Part 3 out of 5
WRITTEN IN THE PROSPECT OF DEATH.
Sad solitary Thought, who keep'st thy vigils.
Thy solemn vigils, in the sick man's mind;
Communing lonely with his sinking soul,
And musing on the dubious glooms that lie
In dim obscurity before him,--thee,
Wrapt in thy dark magnificence, I call
At this still midnight hour, this awful season,
When, on my bed, in wakeful restlessness,
I turn me wearisome; while all around,
All, all, save me, sink in forgetfulness;
I only wake to watch the sickly taper
Which lights me to my tomb. Yes, 'tis the hand
Of death I feel press heavy on my vitals,
Slow sapping the warm current of existence.
My moments now are few--the sand of life
Ebbs fastly to its finish. Yet a little,
And the last fleeting particle will fall
Silent, unseen, unnoticed, unlamented.
Come then, sad Thought, and let us meditate,
While meditate we may.--We have now
--But a small portion of what men call time
To hold communion; for even now the knife,
The separating knife, I feel divide
The tender bond that binds my soul to earth.
Yes, I must die--I feel that I must die;
And though to me has life been dark and dreary,
Though Hope for me has smiled but to deceive,
And Disappointment still pursued her blandishments,
Yet do I feel my soul recoil within me
As I contemplate the dim gulf of death,
The shuddering void, the awful blank--futurity.
Ay, I had planned full many a sanguine scheme
Of earthly happiness--romantic schemes,
And fraught with loveliness; and it is hard
To feel the hand of Death arrest one's steps,
Throw a chill blight o'er all one's budding hopes,
And hurl one's soul untimely to the shades,
Lost in the gaping gulf of blank oblivion.
Fifty years hence, and who will hear of Henry?
Oh! none;--another busy brood of beings
Will shoot up in the interim, and none
Will hold him in remembrance. I shall sink
As sinks a stranger in the crowded streets
Of busy London:--Some short bustle's caused,
A few inquiries, and the crowds close in,
And all's forgotten.--On my grassy grave
The men of future times will careless tread,
And read my name upon the sculptured stone;
Nor will the sound, familiar to their ears,
Recall my vanish'd memory. I did hope
For better things!--I hoped I should not leave
The earth without a vestige;--Fate decrees
It shall be otherwise, and I submit.
Henceforth, oh, world, no more of thy desires!
No more of hope! the wanton vagrant Hope!
I abjure all. Now other cares engross me,
And my tired soul, with emulative haste,
Looks to its God, and prunes its wings for heaven.
When pride and envy, and the scorn
Of wealth my heart with gall imbued,
I thought how pleasant were the morn
Of silence, in the solitude;
To hear the forest bee on wing;
Or by the stream, or woodland spring,
To lie and muse alone--alone,
While the tinkling waters moan,
Or such wild sounds arise, as say,
Man and noise are far away.
Now, surely, thought I, there's enow
To fill life's dusty way;
And who will miss a poet's feet,
Or wonder where he stray:
So to the woods and wastes I'll go,
And I will build an osier bower,
And sweetly there to me shall flow
The meditative hour.
And when the Autumn's withering hand,
Shall strew with leaves the sylvan land,
I'll to the forest caverns hie:
And in the dark and stormy nights
I'll listen to the shrieking sprites,
Who, in the wintry wolds and floods,
Keep jubilee, and shred the woods;
Or, as it drifted soft and slow,
Hurl in ten thousand shapes the snow.
* * * * *
Oh! thou most fatal of Pandora's train,
Consumption! silent cheater of the eye;
Thou comest not robed in agonizing pain,
Nor mark'st thy course with Death's delusive dye,
But silent and unnoticed thou dost lie;
O'er life's soft springs thy venom dost diffuse,
And, while thou givest new lustre to the eye,
While o'er the cheek are spread health's ruddy hues,
E'en then life's little rest thy cruel power subdues.
Oft I've beheld thee, in the glow of youth,
Hid 'neath the blushing roses which there bloom'd;
And dropp'd a tear, for then thy cankering tooth
I knew would never stay, till all consumed,
In the cold vault of death he were entomb'd.
But oh! what sorrow did I feel, as swift,
Insidious ravager, I saw thee fly
Through fair Lucina's breast of whitest snow,
Preparing swift her passage to the sky.
Though still intelligence beam'd in the glance,
The liquid lustre of her fine blue eye;
Yet soon did languid listlessness advance,
And soon she calmly sunk in death's repugnant trance.
Even when her end was swiftly drawing near,
And dissolution hover'd o'er her head:
Even then so beauteous did her form appear,
That none who saw her but admiring said,
Sure so much beauty never could be dead.
Yet the dark lash of her expressive eye
Bent lowly down upon the languid--
* * * * *
Loud rage the winds without.--The wintry cloud
O'er the cold northstar casts her flitting shroud;
And Silence, pausing in some snow-clad dale,
Starts as she hears, by fits, the shrieking gale;
Where now, shut out from every still retreat,
Her pine-clad summit, and her woodland seat,
Shall Meditation, in her saddest mood,
Retire o'er all her pensive stores to brood?
Shivering and blue the peasant eyes askance
The drifted fleeces that around him dance,
And hurries on his half-averted form,
Stemming the fury of the sidelong storm.
Him soon shall greet his snow-topp'd [cot of thatch],
Soon shall his numb'd hand tremble on the latch,
Soon from his chimney's nook the cheerful flame
Diffuse a genial warmth throughout his frame;
Round the light fire, while roars the north wind loud,
What merry groups of vacant faces crowd;
These hail his coming--these his meal prepare,
And boast in all that cot no lurking care.
What though the social circle be denied,
Even Sadness brightens at her own fireside,
Loves, with fix'd eye, to watch the fluttering blaze,
While musing Memory dwells on former days;
Or Hope, bless'd spirit! smiles--and still forgiven,
Forgets the passport, while she points to Heaven.
Then heap the fire--shut out the biting air,
And from its station wheel the easy chair:
Thus fenced and warm, in silent fit, 'tis sweet
To hear without the bitter tempest beat,
All, all alone--to sit, and muse, and sigh,
The pensive tenant of obscurity.
* * * * *
TO A FRIEND IN DISTRESS,
WHO, WHEN THE AUTHOR REASONED WITH HIM CALMLY,
ASKED, "IF HE DID NOT FEEL FOR HIM."
"Do I not feel?" The doubt is keen as steel.
Yea, I do feel--most exquisitely feel;
My heart can weep, when, from my downcast eye,
I chase the tear, and stem the rising sigh:
Deep buried there I close the rankling dart,
And smile the most when heaviest is my heart.
On this I act--whatever pangs surround,
'Tis magnanimity to hide the wound!
When all was new, and life was in its spring,
I lived an unloved, solitary thing;
Even then I learn'd to bury deep from day
The piercing cares that wore my youth away:
Even then I learn'd for others' cares to feel;
Even then I wept I had not power to heal:
Even then, deep-sounding through the nightly gloom,
I heard the wretched's groan, and mourn'd the wretched's doom.
Who were my friends in youth?--The midnight fire--
The silent moonbeam, or the starry choir;
To these I 'plain'd, or turn'd from outer sight,
To bless my lonely taper's friendly light;
I never yet could ask, howe'er forlorn,
For vulgar pity mix'd with vulgar scorn;
The sacred source of woe I never ope,
My breast's my coffer, and my God's my hope.
But that I do feel, Time, my friend, will show,
Though the cold crowd the secret never know;
With them I laugh--yet, when no eye can see,
I weep for nature, and I weep for thee.
Yes, thou didst wrong me, ... I fondly thought,
In thee I'd found the friend my heart had sought!
I fondly thought, that thou couldst pierce the guise,
And read the truth that in my bosom lies;
I fondly thought, ere Time's last days were gone,
Thy heart and mine had mingled into one!
Yes--and they yet will mingle. Days and years
Will fly, and leave us partners in our tears:
We then shall feel that friendship has a power
To soothe affliction in her darkest hour;
Time's trial o'er, shall clasp each other's hand,
And wait the passport to a better land.
Half past Eleven o'clock at Night.
Yet once more, and once more, awake, my Harp,
From silence and neglect--one lofty strain;
Lofty, yet wilder than the winds of Heaven,
And speaking mysteries more than words can tell,
I ask of thee; for I, with hymnings high,
Would join the dirge of the departing year.
Yet with no wintry garland from the woods,
Wrought of the leafless branch, or ivy sear,
Wreathe I thy tresses, dark December! now;
Me higher quarrel calls, with loudest song,
And fearful joy, to celebrate the day
Of the Redeemer.--Near two thousand suns
Have set their seals upon the rolling lapse
Of generations, since the dayspring first
Beam'd from on high!--Now to the mighty mass
Of that increasing aggregate we add
One unit more. Space in comparison
How small, yet mark'd with how much misery;
Wars, famines, and the fury, Pestilence,
Over the nations hanging her dread scourge;
The oppressed, too, in silent bitterness,
Weeping their sufferance; and the arm of wrong,
Forcing the scanty portion from the weak,
And steeping the lone widow's couch with tears.
So has the year been character'd with woe
In Christian land, and mark'd with wrongs and crimes;
Yet 't was not thus He taught--not thus He lived,
Whose birth we this day celebrate with prayer
And much thanksgiving. He, a man of woes,
Went on the way appointed,--path, though rude,
Yet borne with patience still:--He came to cheer
The broken-hearted, to raise up the sick,
And on the wandering and benighted mind
To pour the light of truth. O task divine!
O more than angel teacher! He had words
To soothe the barking waves, and hush the winds;
And when the soul was toss'd in troubled seas,
Wrapp'd in thick darkness and the howling storm,
He, pointing to the star of peace on high,
Arm'd it with holy fortitude, and bade it smile
At the surrounding wreck.----
When with deep agony his heart was rack'd,
Not for himself the tear-drop dew'd his cheek,
For them He wept, for them to Heaven He pray'd,
His persecutors--"Father, pardon them,
They know not what they do."
Angels of Heaven,
Ye who beheld Him fainting on the cross,
And did him homage, say, may mortal join
The halleluiahs of the risen God?
Will the faint voice and grovelling song be heard
Amid the seraphim in light divine?
Yes, he will deign, the Prince of Peace will deign,
For mercy, to accept the hymn of faith,
Low though it be and humble. Lord of life,
The Christ, the Comforter, thine advent now
Fills my uprising soul.--I mount, I fly
Far o'er the skies, beyond the rolling orbs;
The bonds of flesh dissolve, and earth recedes,
And care, and pain, and sorrow are no more.
* * * * *
Yet once again, my Harp, yet once again
One ditty more, and on the mountain ash
I will again suspend thee. I have felt
The warm tear frequent on my cheek, since last,
At eventide, when all the winds were hush'd,
I woke to thee the melancholy song.
Since then with Thoughtfulness, a maid severe,
I've journey'd, and have learn'd to shape the freaks
Of frolic fancy to the line of truth;
Not unrepining, for my froward heart
Stills turns to thee, mine Harp, and to the flow
Of spring-gales past--the woods and storied haunts
Of my not songless boyhood.--Yet once more,
Not fearless, I will wake thy tremulous tones,
My long-neglected Harp. He must not sink;
The good, the brave--he must not, shall not sink
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Though from the Muse's chalice I may pour
No precious dews of Aganippe's well,
Or Castaly,--though from the morning cloud
I fetch no hues to scatter on his hearse:
Yet will I wreathe a garland for his brows,
Of simple flowers, such as the hedge-rows scent
Of Britain, my loved country; and with tears
Most eloquent, yet silent, I will bathe
Thy honour'd corse, my Nelson, tears as warm
And honest as the ebbing blood that flow'd
Fast from thy honest heart. Thou, Pity, too,
If ever I have loved, with faltering step,
To follow thee in the cold and starless night,
To the top-crag of some rain-beaten cliff;
And, as I heard the deep gun bursting loud
Amid the pauses of the storm, have pour'd
Wild strains, and mournful, to the hurrying winds,
The dying soul's viaticum; if oft
Amid the carnage of the field I've sate
With thee upon the moonlight throne, and sung
To cheer the fainting soldier's dying soul,
With mercy and forgiveness--visitant
Of Heaven--sit thou upon my harp,
And give it feeling, which were else too cold
For argument so great, for theme so high.
How dimly on that morn the sun arose,
'Kerchief'd in mists, and tearful, when--
* * * * *
EPIGRAM ON ROBERT BLOOMFIELD.
Bloomfield, thy happy omen'd name
Ensures continuance to thy fame;
Both sense and truth this verdict give,
While fields shall bloom, thy name shall live!
OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF MR. GILL, WHO WAS
DROWNED IN THE RIVER TRENT, WHILE
BATHING, 9TH AUGUST, 1802.
He sunk, the impetuous river roll'd along,
The sullen wave betray'd his dying breath;
And rising sad the rustling sedge among,
The gale of evening touch'd the cords of death.
Nymph of the Trent! why didst thou not appear
To snatch the victim from thy felon wave!
Alas! too late thou camest to embalm his bier,
And deck with waterflags his early grave.
Triumphant, riding o'er its tumid prey,
Rolls the red stream in sanguinary pride;
While anxious crowds, in vain, expectant stay,
And ask the swoln corse from the murdering tide.
The stealing tear-drop stagnates in the eye,
The sudden sigh by friendship's bosom proved,
I mark them rise--I mark the general sigh!
Unhappy youth! and wert thou so beloved?
On thee, as lone I trace the Trent's green brink,
When the dim twilight slumbers on the glade;
On thee my thoughts shall dwell, nor Fancy shrink
To hold mysterious converse with thy shade.
Of thee, as early, I, with vagrant feet,
Hail the gray-sandal'd morn in Colwick's vale,
Of thee my sylvan reed shall warble sweet,
And wild-wood echoes shall repeat the tale.
And, oh! ye nymphs of Pćon! who preside
O'er running rill and salutary stream.
Guard ye in future well the halcyon tide
From the rude death-shriek and the dying scream.
INSCRIPTION FOR A MONUMENT TO THE MEMORY OF COWPER.
Reader! if with no vulgar sympathy
Thou view'st the wreck of genius and of worth,
Stay thou thy footsteps near this hallow'd spot.
Here Cowper rests. Although renown have made
His name familiar to thine ear, this stone
May tell thee that his virtues were above
The common portion:--that the voice, now hush'd
In death, was once serenely querulous
With pity's tones, and in the ear of woe
Spake music. Now, forgetful, at thy feet,
His tired head presses on its last long rest,
Still tenant of the tomb;--and on the cheek,
Once warm with animation's lambent flush,
Sits the pale image of unmark'd decay.
Yet mourn not. He had chosen the better part;
And, these sad garments of Mortality
Put off, we trust, that to a happier land
He went a light and gladsome passenger.
Sigh'st thou for honours, reader? Call to mind
That glory's voice is impotent to pierce
The silence of the tomb! but virtue blooms
Even on the wreck of life, and mounts the skies.
So gird thy loins with lowliness, and walk
With Cowper on the pilgrimage of Christ.
"I'M PLEASED, AND YET I'M SAD."
When twilight steals along the ground,
And all the bells are ringing round,
One, two, three, four, and five,
I at my study window sit,
And, wrapp'd in many a musing fit,
To bliss am all alive.
But though impressions calm and sweet
Thrill round my heart a holy heat,
And I am inly glad;
The tear-drop stands in either eye,
And yet I cannot tell thee why,
I'm pleased, and yet I'm sad.
The silvery rack that flies away,
Like mortal life or pleasure's ray,
Does that disturb my breast?
Nay, what have I, a studious man,
To do with life's unstable plan,
Or pleasure's fading vest?
Is it that here I must not stop,
But o'er yon blue hill's woody top
Must bend my lonely way?
No, surely no! for give but me
My own fireside, and I shall be
At home where'er I stray.
Then is it that yon steeple there,
With music sweet shall fill the air,
When thou no more canst hear?
Oh, no! oh, no! for then, forgiven,
I shall be with my God in heaven,
Released from every fear.
Then whence it is I cannot tell,
But there is some mysterious spell
That holds me when I'm glad;
And so the tear-drop fills my eye,
When yet in truth I know not why,
Or wherefore I am sad.
It is not that my lot is low,
That bids this silent tear to flow;
It is not grief that bids me moan;
It is that I am all alone.
In woods and glens I love to roam,
When the tired hedger hies him home;
Or by the woodland pool to rest,
When pale the star looks on its breast.
Yet when the silent evening sighs,
With hallow'd airs and symphonies,
My spirit takes another tone,
And sighs that it is all alone.
The autumn leaf is sere and dead,
It floats upon the water's bed;
I would not be a leaf, to die
Without recording sorrow's sigh!
The woods and winds, with sullen wail,
Tell all the same unvaried tale;
I've none to smile when I am free,
And when I sigh, to sigh with me.
Yet in my dreams a form I view,
That thinks on me, and loves me too;
I start, and when the vision's flown,
I weep that I am all alone.
If far from me the Fates remove
Domestic peace, connubial love,
The prattling ring, the social cheer,
Affection's voice, affection's tear,
Ye sterner powers, that bind the heart,
To me your iron aid impart!
O teach me when the nights are chill,
And my fireside is lone and still;
When to the blaze that crackles near,
I turn a tired and pensive ear,
And Nature conquering bids me sigh
For love's soft accents whispering nigh;
O teach me, on that heavenly road,
That leads to Truth's occult abode,
To wrap my soul in dreams sublime,
Till earth and care no more be mine.
Let bless'd Philosophy impart
Her soothing measures to my heart;
And while with Plato's ravish'd ears
I list the music of the spheres,
Or on the mystic symbols pore,
That hide the Chald's sublimer lore,
I shall not brood on summers gone,
Nor think that I am all alone.
Fanny! upon thy breast I may not lie!
Fanny! thou dost not hear me when I speak!
Where art thou, love?--Around I turn my eye,
And as I turn, the tear is on my cheek.
Was it a dream? or did my love behold
Indeed my lonely couch?--Methought the breath
Fann'd not her bloodless lip; her eye was cold
And hollow, and the livery of death
Invested her pale forehead. Sainted maid!
My thoughts oft rest with thee in thy cold grave,
Through the long wintry night, when wind and wave
Rock the dark house where thy poor head is laid.
Yet, hush! my fond heart, hush! there is a shore
Of better promise; and I know at last,
When the long sabbath of the tomb is past,
We two shall meet in Christ--to part no more.
Saw'st thou that light? exclaim'd the youth, and paused:
Through yon dark firs it glanced, and on the stream
That skirts the woods it for a moment play'd.
Again, more light it gleam'd,--or does some sprite
Delude mine eyes with shapes of wood and streams,
And lamp far beaming through the thicket's gloom,
As from some bosom'd cabin, where the voice
Of revelry, or thrifty watchfulness,
Keeps in the lights at this unwonted hour?
No sprite deludes mine eyes,--the beam now glows
With steady lustre.--Can it be the moon
Who, hidden long by the invidious veil
That blots the Heavens, now sets behind the woods?
No moon to-night has look'd upon the sea
Of clouds beneath her, answer'd Rudiger,
She has been sleeping with Endymion.
* * * * *
The pious man,
In this bad world, when mists and couchant storms
Hide Heaven's fine circlet, springs aloft in faith
Above the clouds that threat him, to the fields
Of ether, where the day is never veil'd
With intervening vapours, and looks down
Serene upon the troublous sea, that hides
The earth's fair breast, that sea whose nether face
To grovelling mortals frowns and darkens all;
But on whose billowy back, from man conceal'd,
The glaring sunbeam plays.
Lo! on the eastern summit, clad in gray,
Morn, like a horseman girt for travel, comes,
And from his tower of mist,
Night's watchman hurries down.
There was a little bird upon that pile;
It perch'd upon a ruin'd pinnacle,
And made sweet melody.
The song was soft, yet cheerful, and most clear,
For other note none swell'd the air but his.
It seem'd as if the little chorister,
Sole tenant of the melancholy pile,
Were a lone hermit, outcast from his kind,
Yet withal cheerful. I have heard the note
Echoing so lonely o'er the aisle forlorn,
O pale art thou, my lamp, and faint
Thy melancholy ray:
When the still night's unclouded saint
Is walking on her way.
Through my lattice leaf embower'd,
Fair she sheds her shadowy beam,
And o'er my silent sacred room
Casts a checker'd twilight gloom;
I throw aside the learned sheet,
I cannot choose but gaze, she looks so mildly sweet.
Sad vestal, why art thou so fair,
Or why am I so frail?
Methinks thou lookest kindly on me, Moon,
And cheerest my lone hours with sweet regards!
Surely like me thou'rt sad, but dost not speak
Thy sadness to the cold unheeding crowd;
So mournfully composed, o'er yonder cloud
Thou shinest, like a cresset, beaming far
From the rude watch-tower, o'er the Atlantic wave.
O give me music--for my soul doth faint;
I'm sick of noise and care, and now mine ear
Longs for some air of peace, some dying plaint,
That may the spirit from its cell unsphere.
Hark how it falls! and now it steals along,
Like distant bells upon the lake at eve,
When all is still; and now it grows more strong,
As when the choral train their dirges weave,
Mellow and many-voiced; where every close,
O'er the old minster roof, in echoing waves reflows.
Oh! I am wrapt aloft. My spirit soars
Beyond the skies, and leaves the stars behind.
Lo! angels lead me to the happy shores,
And floating pćans fill the buoyant wind.
Farewell! base earth, farewell! my soul is freed,
Far from its clayey cell it springs,--
* * * * *
And must thou go, and must we part?
Yes, Fate decrees, and I submit;
The pang that rends in twain my heart,
Oh, Fanny, dost thou share in it?
Thy sex is fickle,--when away,
Some happier youth may win thy----
* * * * *
Ah! who can say, however fair his view,
Through what sad scenes his path may lie?
Ah! who can give to others' woes his sigh,
Secure his own will never need it too?
Let thoughtless youth its seeming joys pursue,
Soon will they learn to scan with thoughtful eye
The illusive past and dark futurity;
Soon will they know--
* * * * *
Hush'd is the lyre--the hand that swept
The low and pensive wires,
Robb'd of its cunning, from the task retires.
Yes--it is still--the lyre is still;
The spirit which its slumbers broke
Hath pass'd away,--and that weak hand that woke
Its forest melodies hath lost its skill.
Yet I would press you to my lips once more,
Ye wild, yet withering flowers of poesy;
Yet would I drink the fragrance which ye pour,
Mix'd with decaying odours: for to me
Ye have beguiled the hours of infancy,
As in the wood-paths of my native--
* * * * *
When high romance o'er every wood and stream
Dark lustre shed, my infant mind to fire,
Spell-struck, and fill'd with many a wondering dream,
First in the groves I woke the pensive lyre.
All there was mystery then, the gust that woke
The midnight echo was a spirit's dirge,
And unseen fairies would the moon invoke
To their light morrice by the restless surge.
Now to my sober'd thought with life's false smiles,
Too much ...
The vagrant Fancy spreads no more her wiles,
And dark forebodings now my bosom fill.
Once more, and yet once more,
I give unto my harp a dark woven lay;
I heard the waters roar,
I heard the flood of ages pass away.
O thou, stern spirit, who dost dwell
In thine eternal cell,
Noting, gray chronicler! the silent years,
I saw thee rise,--I saw the scroll complete;
Thou spakest, and at thy feet
The universe gave way.
 These Fragments were written upon the back of his mathematical papers,
during the last year of his life.
FRAGMENT OF AN ECCENTRIC DRAMA.
WRITTEN AT A VERY EARLY AGE.
THE DANCE OF THE CONSUMPTIVES.
Merry, merry go the bells,
Over the heath, over the moor, and over the dale,
"Swinging slow with sullen roar,"
Dance, dance away the jocund roundelay!
Ding-dong, ding-dong calls us away.
Round the oak, and round the elm,
Merrily foot it o'er the ground!
The sentry ghost it stands aloof,
So merrily, merrily foot it round.
Merry, merry go the bells,
Swelling in the nightly gale,
The sentry ghost,
It keeps its post,
And soon, and soon our sports must fail:
But let us trip the nightly ground,
While the merry, merry bells ring round.
Hark! Hark! the deathwatch ticks!
See, see, the winding-sheet!
Our dance is done,
Our race is run,
And we must lie at the alder's feet!
Merry, merry go the bells,
Swinging o'er the weltering wave!
And we must seek
Our deathbeds bleak,
Where the green sod grows upon the grave.
They vanish--The Goddess of Consumption descends, habited
in a sky-blue robe, attended by mournful music.
Come, Melancholy, sister mine!
Cold the dews, and chill the night!
Come from thy dreary shrine!
The wan moon climbs the heavenly height,
And underneath her sickly ray
Troops of squalid spectres play,
And the dying mortals' groan
Startles the night on her dusky throne.
Come, come, sister mine!
Gliding on the pale moonshine:
We'll ride at ease
On the tainted breeze,
And oh! our sport will be divine.
The Goddess of Melancholy advances out of a deep glen in the
rear, habited in black, and covered with a thick veil.--She
Sister, from my dark abode,
Where nests the raven, sits the toad,
Hither I come, at thy command:
Sister, sister, join thy hand!
I will smooth the way for thee,
Thou shalt furnish food for me.
Come, let us speed our way
Where the troops of spectres play.
To charnel-houses, churchyards drear,
Where Death sits with a horrible leer,
A lasting grin, on a throne of bones,
And skim along the blue tombstones.
Come, let us speed away,
Lay our snares, and spread our tether!
I will smooth the way for thee,
Thou shalt furnish food for me;
And the grass shall wave
O'er many a grave,
Where youth and beauty sleep together.
Come, let us speed our way,
Join our hands, and spread our tether!
I will furnish food for thee,
Thou shalt smooth the way for me!
And the grass shall wave
O'er many a grave,
Where youth and beauty sleep together.
Hist, sister, hist! who comes here?
Oh! I know her by that tear,
By that blue eye's languid glare,
By her skin, and by her hair:
She is mine,
And she is thine,
Now the deadliest draught prepare.
In the dismal night air dress'd,
I will creep into her breast:
Flush her cheek, and bleach her skin,
And feed on the vital fire within.
Lover, do not trust her eyes,--
When they sparkle most, she dies!
Mother, do not trust her breath,--
Comfort she will breathe in death!
Father, do not strive to save her,--
She is mine, and I must have her!
The coffin must be her bridal bed!
The winding-sheet must wrap her head;
The whispering winds must o'er her sigh,
For soon in the grave the maid must lie:
The worm it will riot
On heavenly diet,
When death has deflower'd her eye.
While Consumption speaks, Angelina enters.]
With  what a silent and dejected pace
Dost thou, wan Moon! upon thy way advance
In the blue welkin's vault!--Pale wanderer!
Hast thou too felt the pangs of hopeless love,
That thus, with such a melancholy grace,
Thou dost pursue thy solitary course?
Has thy Endymion, smooth-faced boy, forsook
Thy widow'd breast--on which the spoiler oft
Has nestled fondly, while the silver clouds
Fantastic pillow'd thee, and the dim night,
Obsequious to thy will, encurtain'd round
With its thick fringe thy couch? Wan traveller,
How like thy fate to mine!--Yet I have still
One heavenly hope remaining, which thou lack'st;
My woes will soon be buried in the grave
Of kind forgetfulness--my journey here.
Though it be darksome, joyless, and forlorn,
Is yet but short, and soon my weary feet
Will greet the peaceful inn of lasting rest.
But thou, unhappy Queen! art doom'd to trace
Thy lonely walk in the drear realms of night,
While many a lagging age shall sweep beneath
The leaden pinions of unshaken time;
Though not a hope shall spread its glittering hue
To cheat thy steps along the weary way.
O that the sum of human happiness
Should be so trifling, and so frail withal,
That when possess'd, it is but lessened grief;
And even then there's scarce a sudden gust
That blows across the dismal waste of life,
But bears it from the view. Oh! who would shun
The hour that cuts from earth, and fear to press
The calm and peaceful pillows of the grave,
And yet endure the various ills of life,
And dark vicissitudes! Soon, I hope, I feel,
And am assured, that I shall lay my dead,
My weary aching head, on its last rest,
And on my lowly bed the grass-green sod
Will flourish sweetly. And then they will weep
That one so young, and what they're pleased to call
So beautiful, should die so soon. And tell
How painful Disappointment's canker'd fang
Wither'd the rose upon my maiden cheek.
Oh, foolish ones! why, I shall sleep so sweetly,
Laid in my darksome grave, that they themselves
Might envy me my rest! And as for them,
Who, on the score of former intimacy,
May thus remembrance me--they must themselves
Around the winter fire
(When out-a-doors the biting frost congeals,
And shrill the skater's irons on the pool
Ring loud, as by the moonlight he performs
His graceful evolutions) they not long
Shall sit and chat of older times, and feats
Of early youth, but silent, one by one,
Shall drop into their shrouds. Some, in their age,
Ripe for the sickle; others young, like me,
And falling green beneath the untimely stroke.
Thus, in short time, in the churchyard forlorn,
Where I shall lie, my friends will lay them down,
And dwell with me, a happy family.
And oh! thou cruel, yet beloved youth,
Who now hast left me hopeless here to mourn,
Do thou but shed one tear upon my corse
And say that I was gentle, and deserved
A better lover, and I shall forgive
All, all thy wrongs;--and then do thou forget
The hapless Margaret, and be as bless'd
As wish can make thee--Laugh, and play, and sing
With thy dear choice, and never think of me.
Yet hist, I hear a step.--In this dark wood--
* * * * *
 With how sad steps, O Moon! thou climb'st the skies,
How silently, and how wan a face!
_Sir P. Sidney._
TO A FRIEND.
WRITTEN AT A VERY EARLY AGE.
I've read, my friend, of Dioclesian,
And many another noble Grecian,
Who wealth and palaces resigned,
In cots the joys of peace to find;
Maximian's meal of turnip-tops
(Disgusting food to dainty chops)
I've also read of, without wonder;
But such a cursed egregious blunder,
As that a man of wit and sense
Should leave his books to hoard up pence,--
Forsake the loved Aonian maids
For all the petty tricks of trades,
I never, either now, or long since,
Have heard of such a peace of nonsense;
That one who learning's joys hath felt,
And at the Muse's altar knelt,
Should leave a life of sacred leisure
To taste the accumulating pleasure;
And, metamorphosed to an alley duck,
Grovel in loads of kindred muck.
Oh! 't is beyond my comprehension!
A courtier throwing up his pension,--
A lawyer working without a fee,--
A parson giving charity,--
A truly pious methodist preacher,--
Are not, egad, so out of nature.
Had nature made thee half a fool,
But given thee wit to keep a school,
I had not stared at thy backsliding:
But when thy wit I can confide in,
When well I know thy just pretence
To solid and exalted sense;
When well I know that on thy head
Philosophy her lights hath shed,
I stand aghast! thy virtues sum to,
I wonder what this world will come to!
Yet, whence this strain? shall I repine
That thou alone dost singly shine?
Shall I lament that thou alone,
Of men of parts, hast prudence known?
ON READING THE POEMS OF WARTON.
Oh, Warton! to thy soothing shell,
Stretch'd remote in hermit cell,
Where the brook runs babbling by,
For ever I could listening lie;
And catching all the muses' fire,
Hold converse with the tuneful quire.
What pleasing themes thy page adorn,
The ruddy streaks of cheerful morn,
The pastoral pipe, the ode sublime,
And Melancholy's mournful chime!
Each with unwonted graces shines
In thy ever lovely lines.
Thy muse deserves the lasting meed;
Attuning sweet the Dorian reed,
Now the lovelorn swain complains,
And sings his sorrows to the plains;
Now the sylvan scenes appear
Through all the changes of the year;
Or the elegiac strain
Softly sings of mental pain,
And mournful diapasons sail
On the faintly dying gale.
But, ah! the soothing scene is o'er,
On middle flight we cease to soar,
For now the muse assumes a bolder sweep,
Strikes on the lyric string her sorrows deep,
In strains unheard before.
Now, now the rising fire thrills high,
Now, now to heaven's high realms we fly,
And every throne explore:
The soul entranced, on mighty wings,
With all the poet's heat upsprings,
And loses earthly woes;
Till all alarm'd at the giddy height,
The Muse descends on gentler flight,
And lulls the wearied soul to soft repose.
The western gale,
Mild as the kisses of connubial love,
Plays round my languid limbs, as all dissolved,
Beneath the ancient elm's fantastic shade
I lie, exhausted with the noontide heat:
While rippling o'er its deep worn pebble bed,
The rapid rivulet rushes at my feet,
Dispensing coolness. On the fringed marge
Full many a floweret rears its head,--or pink,
Or gaudy daffodil. 'Tis here, at noon,
The buskin'd wood-nymphs from the heat retire,
And lave them in the fountain; here secure
From Pan, or savage satyr, they disport:
Or stretch'd supinely on the velvet turf,
Lull'd by the laden bee, or sultry fly,
Invoke the god of slumber....
* * * * *
And, hark! how merrily, from distant tower,
Ring round the village bells! now on the gale
They rise with gradual swell, distinct and loud;
Anon they die upon the pensive ear,
Melting in faintest music. They bespeak
A day of jubilee, and oft they bear,
Commix'd along the unfrequented shore,
The sound of village dance and tabor loud,
Startling the musing ear of Solitude.
Such is the jocund wake of Whitsuntide,
When happy Superstition, gabbling eld!
Holds her unhurtful gambols. All the day
The rustic revellers ply the mazy dance
On the smooth shaven green, and then at eve
Commence the harmless rites and auguries;
And many a tale of ancient days goes round.
They tell of wizard seer, whose potent spells
Could hold in dreadful thrall the labouring moon,
Or draw the fix'd stars from their eminence,
And still the midnight tempest. Then anon
Tell of uncharnel'd spectres, seen to glide
Along the lone wood's unfrequented path,
Startling the 'nighted traveller; while the sound
Of undistinguished murmurs, heard to come
From the dark centre of the deepening glen,
Struck on his frozen ear.
Thou art fallen man's best friend! With thee he speeds
In frigid apathy along his way.
And never does the tear of agony
Burn down his scorching cheek; or the keen steel
Of wounded feeling penetrate his breast.
E'en now, as leaning on this fragrant bank,
I taste of all the keener happiness
Which sense refined affords--E'en now my heart
Would fain induce me to forsake the world,
Throw off these garments, and in shepherd's weeds,
With a small flock, and short suspended reed,
To sojourn in the woodland.--Then my thought
Draws such gay pictures of ideal bliss,
That I could almost err in reason's spite,
And trespass on my judgment.
Such is life:
The distant prospect always seems more fair,
And when attain'd, another still succeeds,
Far fairer than before,--yet compass'd round
With the same dangers, and the same dismay.
And we poor pilgrims in this dreary maze,
Still discontented, chase the fairy form
Of unsubstantial Happiness, to find,
When life itself is sinking in the strife,
'Tis but an airy bubble and a cheat.
COMMENCEMENT OF A POEM ON DESPAIR.
Some to Aonian lyres of silver sound
With winning elegance attune their song,
Form'd to sink lightly on the soothed sense,
And charm the soul with softest harmony:
'Tis then that Hope with sanguine eye is seen
Roving through Fancy's gay futurity;
Her heart light dancing to the sounds of pleasure,
Pleasure of days to come. Memory, too, then
Comes with her sister, Melancholy sad,
Pensively musing on the scenes of youth,
Scenes never to return.
Such subjects merit poets used to raise
The attic verse harmonious; but for me
A deadlier theme demands my backward hand,
And bids me strike the strings of dissonance
With frantic energy.
'Tis wan Despair I sing, if sing I can
Of him before whose blast the voice of Song,
And Mirth, and Hope, and Happiness all fly,
Nor ever dare return. His notes are heard
At noon of night, where, on the coast of blood,
The lacerated son of Angola
Howls forth his sufferings to the moaning wind;
And, when the awful silence of the night
Strikes the chill death-dew to the murderer's heart,
He speaks in every conscience-prompted word
Half utter'd, half suppressed.
'Tis him I sing--Despair--terrific name,
Striking unsteadily the tremulous chord
Of timorous terror--discord in the sound:
For to a theme revolting as is this,
Dare not I woo the maids of harmony,
Who love to sit and catch the soothing sound
Of lyre Ćolian, or the martial bugle,
Calling the hero to the field of glory,
And firing him with deeds of high emprise
And warlike triumph: but from scenes like mine
Shrink they affrighted, and detest the bard
Who dares to sound the hollow tones of horror.
Hence, then, soft maids,
And woo the silken zephyr in the bowers
By Heliconia's sleep-inviting stream:
For aid like yours I seek not; 'tis for powers
Of darker hue to inspire a verse like mine!
'Tis work for wizards, sorcerers, and fiends.
Hither, ye furious imps of Acheron,
Nurslings of hell, and beings shunning light,
And all the myriads of the burning concave:
Souls of the damned:--Hither, oh! come and join
The infernal chorus. 'Tis Despair I sing!
He, whose sole tooth inflicts a deadlier pang
Than all your tortures join'd. Sing, sing Despair!
Repeat the sound, and celebrate his power;
Unite shouts, screams, and agonizing shrieks,
Till the loud pćan ring through hell's high vault,
And the remotest spirits of the deep
Leap from the lake, and join the dreadful song.
 Alluding to the two pleasing poems, the Pleasures of Hope and of
THE EVE OF DEATH.
Silence of death--portentous calm,
Those airy forms that yonder fly
Denote that your void foreruns a storm,
That the hour of fate is nigh.
I see, I see, on the dim mist borne,
The Spirit of battles rear his crest!
I see, I see, that ere the morn,
His spear will forsake its hated rest,
And the widow'd wife of Larrendill will beat her naked breast.
O'er the smooth bosom of the sullen deep,
No softly ruffling zephyrs fly;
But nature sleeps a deathless sleep,
For the hour of battle is nigh.
Not a loose leaf waves on the dusky oak,
But a creeping stillness reigns around;
Except when the raven, with ominous croak,
On the ear does unwelcomely sound.
I know, I know what this silence means;
I know what the raven saith--
Strike, oh, ye bards! the melancholy harp,
For this is the eve of death.
Behold, how along the twilight air
The shades of our fathers glide!
There Morven fled, with the blood-drench'd hair,
And Colma with gray side.
No gale around its coolness flings,
Yet sadly sigh the gloomy trees;
And hark! how the harp's unvisited strings
Sound sweet, as if swept by a whispering breeze!
'Tis done! the sun he has set in blood!
He will never set more to the brave;
Let us pour to the hero the dirge of death,
For to-morrow he hies to the grave.
Oh! who would cherish life,
And cling unto this heavy clog of clay,
Love this rude world of strife,
Where glooms and tempests cloud the fairest day;
And where, 'neath outward smiles,
Conceal'd the snake lies feeding on its prey,
Where pitfalls lie in every flowery way,
And sirens lure the wanderer to their wiles!
Hateful it is to me,
Its riotous railings and revengeful strife;
I'm tired with all its screams and brutal shouts
Dinning the ear;--away--away with life!
And welcome, oh! thou silent maid,
Who in some foggy vault art laid,
Where never daylight's dazzling ray
Comes to disturb thy dismal sway;
And there amid unwholesome damps dost sleep,
In such forgetful slumbers deep,
That all thy senses stupefied
Are to marble petrified.
Sleepy Death, I welcome thee!
Sweet are thy calms to misery.
Poppies I will ask no more,
Nor the fatal hellebore;
Death is the best, the only cure,
His are slumbers ever sure.
Lay me in the Gothic tomb,
In whose solemn fretted gloom
I may lie in mouldering state,
With all the grandeur of the great:
Over me, magnificent,
Carve a stately monument;
Then thereon my statue lay,
With hands in attitude to pray,
And angels serve to hold my head,
Weeping o'er the father dead.
Duly too at close of day,
Let the pealing organ play;
And while the harmonious thunders roll,
Chant a vesper to my soul:
Thus how sweet my sleep will be,
Shut out from thoughtful misery!
Away with Death--away
With all her sluggish sleeps and chilling damps,
Impervious to the day,
Where nature sinks into inanity.
How can the soul desire
Such hateful nothingness to crave,
And yield with joy the vital fire
To moulder in the grave!
Yet mortal life is sad,
Eternal storms molest its sullen sky;
And sorrows ever rife
Drain the sacred fountain dry--
Away with mortal life!
But, hail the calm reality,
The seraph Immortality!
Hail the heavenly bowers of peace,
Where all the storms of passion cease.
Wild life's dismaying struggle o'er,
The wearied spirit weeps no more;
But wears the eternal smile of joy,
Tasting bliss without alloy.
Welcome, welcome, happy bowers,
Where no passing tempest lowers;
But the azure heavens display
The everlasting smile of day;
Where the choral seraph choir
Strike to praise the harmonious lyre;
And the spirit sinks to ease,
Lull'd by distant symphonies.
Oh! to think of meeting there
The friends whose graves received our tear,
The daughter loved, the wife adored,
To our widow'd arms restored;
And all the joys which death did sever,
Given to us again for ever!
Who would cling to wretched life,
And hug the poison'd thorn of strife;
Who would not long from earth to fly,
A sluggish senseless lump to lie,
When the glorious prospect lies
Full before his raptured eyes?
WRITTEN BETWEEN THE AGES OF FOURTEEN AND
FIFTEEN, WITH A FEW SUBSEQUENT
Music, all powerful o'er the human mind,
Can still each mental storm, each tumult calm,
Soothe anxious care on sleepless couch reclined,
And e'en fierce Anger's furious rage disarm.
At her command the various passions lie;
She stirs to battle, or she lulls to peace;
Melts the charm'd soul to thrilling ecstasy,
And bids the jarring world's harsh clangour cease.
Her martial sounds can fainting troops inspire
With strength unwonted, and enthusiasm raise;
Infuse new ardour, and with youthful fire
Urge on the warrior gray with length of days.
Far better she, when, with her soothing lyre,
She charms the falchion from the savage grasp,
And melting into pity vengeful ire,
Looses the bloody breastplate's iron clasp.
With her in pensive mood I long to roam,
At midnight's hour, or evening's calm decline,
And thoughtful o'er the falling streamlet's foam,
In calm seclusion's hermit walks recline.
Whilst mellow sounds from distant copse arise,
Of softest flute or reeds harmonic join'd,
With rapture thrill'd each worldly passion dies,
And pleased attention claims the passive mind.
Soft through the dell the dying strains retire,
Then burst majestic in the varied swell;
Now breathe melodious as the Grecian lyre,
Or on the ear in sinking cadence dwell.
Romantic sounds! such is the bliss ye give,
That heaven's bright scenes seem bursting on the soul,
With joy I'd yield each sensual wish, to live
For ever 'neath your undefiled control.
Oh! surely melody from heaven was sent,
To cheer the soul when tired with human strife,
To soothe the wayward heart by sorrow rent,
And soften down the rugged road of life.
ON BEING CONFINED TO SCHOOL ONE
PLEASANT MORNING IN SPRING.
WRITTEN AT THE AGE OF THIRTEEN.
The morning sun's enchanting rays
Now call forth every songster's praise;
Now the lark, with upward flight,
Gaily ushers in the light;
While wildly warbling from each tree,
The birds sing songs to Liberty.
But for me no songster sings,
For me no joyous lark upsprings;
For I, confined in gloomy school,
Must own the pedant's iron rule,
And far from sylvan shades and bowers,
In durance vile must pass the hours;
There con the scholiast's dreary lines,
Where no bright ray of genius shines,
And close to rugged learning cling,
While laughs around the jocund spring.
How gladly would my soul forego
All that arithmeticians know,
Or stiff grammarians quaintly teach,
Or all that industry can reach,
To taste each morn of all the joys
That with the laughing sun arise;
And unconstrain'd to rove along
The bushy brakes and glens among;
And woo the muse's gentle power
In unfrequented rural bower:
But, ah! such heaven-approaching joys
Will never greet my longing eyes;
Still will they cheat in vision fine,
Yet never but in fancy shine.
Oh, that I were the little wren
That shrilly chirps from yonder glen!
Oh, far away I then would rove
To some secluded bushy grove;
There hop and sing with careless glee.
Hop and sing at liberty;
And, till death should stop my lays,
Far from men would spend my days.
Thee do I own, the prompter of my joys,
The soother of my cares, inspiring peace;
And I will ne'er forsake thee. Men may rave,
And blame and censure me, that I don't tie
My every thought down to the desk, and spend
The morning of my life in adding figures
With accurate monotony: that so
The good things of the world may be my lot,
And I might taste the blessedness of wealth:
But, oh! I was not made for money getting;
For me no much respected plum awaits.
Nor civic honour, envied. For as still
I tried to cast with school dexterity
The interesting sums, my vagrant thoughts
Would quick revert to many a woodland haunt,
Which fond remembrance cherished, and the pen
Dropp'd from my senseless fingers as I pictured,
In my mind's eye, how on the shores of Trent
I erewhile wander'd with my early friends
In social intercourse. And then I'd think
How contrary pursuits had thrown us wide,
One from the other, scatter'd o'er the globe;
They were set down with sober steadiness,
Each to his occupation. I alone,
A wayward youth, misled by Fancy's vagaries,
Remain'd unsettled, insecure, and veering
With every wind to every point of the compass.
Yes, in the counting-house I could indulge
In fits of close abstraction; yea, amid
The busy bustling crowds could meditate,
And send my thoughts ten thousand leagues away
Beyond the Atlantic, resting on my friend.
Ay, Contemplation, even in earliest youth
I woo'd thy heavenly influence! I would walk
A weary way when all my toils were done,
To lay myself at night in some lone wood,
And hear the sweet song of the nightingale.
Oh, those were times of happiness, and still
To memory doubly dear; for growing years
Had not then taught me man was made to mourn;
And a short hour of solitary pleasure,
Stolen from sleep, was ample recompense
For all the hateful bustles of the day.
My opening mind was ductile then, and plastic,
And soon the marks of care were worn away,
While I was sway'd by every novel impulse,
Yielding to all the fancies of the hour.
But it has now assumed its character;
Mark'd by strong lineaments, its haughty tone,
Like the firm oak, would sooner break than bend.
Yet still, O Contemplation! I do love
To indulge thy solemn musings; still the same
With thee alone I know to melt and weep,
In thee alone delighting. Why along
The dusky tract of commerce should I toil,
When, with an easy competence content,
I can alone be happy; where with thee
I may enjoy the loveliness of Nature,
And loose the wings of Fancy? Thus alone
Can I partake the happiness on earth;
And to be happy here is a man's chief end,
For to be happy he must needs be good.
MY OWN CHARACTER.
ADDRESSED (DURING ILLNESS) TO A LADY.
Dear Fanny, I mean, now I'm laid on the shelf,
To give you a sketch--ay, a sketch of myself.
'Tis a pitiful subject, I frankly confess,
And one it would puzzle a painter to dress;
But, however, here goes, and as sure as a gun,
I'll tell all my faults like a penitent nun;
For I know, for my Fanny, before I address her,
She wont be a cynical father confessor.
Come, come, 'twill not do! put that curling brow down;
You can't, for the soul of you, learn how to frown.
Well, first I premise, it's my honest conviction,
That my breast is a chaos of all contradiction;
Religious--deistic--now loyal and warm;
Then a dagger-drawn democrat hot for reform:
This moment a fop, that, sententious as Titus;
Democritus now, and anon Heraclitus;
Now laughing and pleased, like a child with a rattle;
Then vex'd to the soul with impertinent tattle;
Now moody and sad, now unthinking and gay,
To all points of the compass I veer in a day.
I'm proud and disdainful to Fortune's gay child,
But to Poverty's offspring submissive and mild;
As rude as a boor, and as rough in dispute;
Then as for politeness--oh! dear--I'm a brute!
I show no respect where I never can feel it;
And as for contempt, take no pains to conceal it.
And so in the suite, by these laudable ends,
I've a great many foes, and a very few friends.
And yet, my dear Fanny, there are who can feel
That this proud heart of mine is not fashion'd of steel.
It can love (can it not?)--it can hate, I am sure;
And it's friendly enough, though in friends it be poor.
For itself though it bleed not, for others it bleeds;
If it have not ripe virtues, I'm sure it's the seeds;
And though far from faultless, or even so-so,
I think it may pass as our worldly things go.
Well, I've told you my frailties without any gloss;
Then as to my virtues, I'm quite at a loss!
I think I'm devout, and yet I can't say,
But in process of time I may get the wrong way.
I'm a general lover, if that's commendation,
And yet can't withstand you know whose fascination.
But I find that amidst all my tricks and devices,
In fishing for virtues, I'm pulling up vices;
So as for the good, why, if I possess it,
I am not yet learned enough to express it.
You yourself must examine the lovelier side,
And after your every art you have tried,
Whatever my faults, I may venture to say,
Hypocrisy never will come in your way.
I am upright, I hope; I'm downright, I'm clear!
And I think my worst foe must allow I'm sincere;
And if ever sincerity glow'd in my breast,
'Tis now when I swear----.
LINES WRITTEN IN WILFORD CHURCHYARD.
ON RECOVERY FROM SICKNESS.
Here would I wish to sleep. This is the spot
Which I have long mark'd out to lay my bones in.
Tired out and wearied with the riotous world,
Beneath this yew I would be sepulchred.
It is a lovely spot! The sultry sun,
From his meridian height, endeavours vainly
To pierce the shadowy foliage, while the zephyr
Comes wafting gently o'er the rippling Trent,
And plays about my wan cheek. 'Tis a nook
Most pleasant. Such a one perchance did Gray
Frequent, as with a vagrant muse he wanton'd.
Come, I will sit me down and meditate,
For I am wearied with my summer's walk;
And here I may repose in silent ease;
And thus, perchance, when life's sad journey's o'er,
My harass'd soul, in this same spot, may find
The haven of its rest--beneath this sod
Perchance may sleep it sweetly, sound as death.
I would not have my corpse cemented down
With brick and stone, defrauding the poor earthworm
Of its predestined dues; no, I would lie
Beneath a little hillock, grass o'ergrown,
Swath'd down with osiers, just as sleep the cotters.
Yet may not undistinguish'd be my grave;
But there at eve may some congenial soul
Duly resort, and shed a pious tear,
The good man's benison--no more I ask.
And, oh! (if heavenly beings may look down
From where, with cherubim, inspired they sit,
Upon this little dim-discover'd spot,
The earth,) then will I cast a glance below
On him who thus my ashes shall embalm;
And I will weep too, and will bless the wanderer,
Wishing he may not long be doom'd to pine
In this low-thoughted world of darkling woe,
But that, ere long, he reach his kindred skies.
Yet 't was a silly thought, as if the body,
Mouldering beneath the surface of the earth,
Could taste the sweets of summer scenery,
And feel the freshness of the balmy breeze!
Yet nature speaks within the human bosom,
And, spite of reason, bids it look beyond
His narrow verge of being, and provide
A decent residence for its clayey shell,
Endear'd to it by time. And who would lay
His body in the city burial-place,
To be thrown up again by some rude sexton,
And yield its narrow house another tenant,
Ere the moist flesh had mingled with the dust,
Ere the tenacious hair had left the scalp,
Exposed to insult lewd, and wantonness?
No, I will lay me in the village ground;
There are the dead respected. The poor hind,
Unletter'd as he is, would scorn to invade
The silent resting place of death. I've seen
The labourer, returning from his toil,
Here stay his steps, and call his children round,
And slowly spell the rudely sculptured rhymes,
And, in his rustic manner, moralize.
I've mark'd with what a silent awe he'd spoken,
With head uncover'd, his respectful manner,
And all the honours which he paid the grave,
And thought on cities, where e'en cemeteries,
Bestrew'd with all the emblems of mortality,
Are not protected from the drunken insolence
Of wassailers profane, and wanton havoc.
Grant, Heaven, that here my pilgrimage may close!
Yet, if this be denied, where'er my bones
May lie--or in the city's crowded bounds,
Or scatter'd wide o'er the huge sweep of waters,
Or left a prey on some deserted shore
To the rapacious cormorant,--yet still,
(For why should sober reason cast away
A thought which soothes the soul?) yet still my spirit
Shall wing its way to these my native regions,
And hover o'er this spot. Oh, then I'll think
Of times when I was seated 'neath this yew
In solemn rumination; and will smile
With joy that I have got my long'd release.
Thou base repiner at another's joy,
Whose eye turns green at merit not thine own,
Oh, far away from generous Britons fly,
And find on meaner climes a fitter throne.
Away, away, it shall not be,
Thou shalt not dare defile our plains;
The truly generous heart disdains
Thy meaner, lowlier fires, while he
Joys at another's joy, and smiles at other's jollity.
Triumphant monster! though thy schemes succeed--
Schemes laid in Acheron, the brood of night,
Yet, but a little while, and nobly freed,
Thy happy victim will emerge to light;
When o'er his head in silence that reposes
Some kindred soul shall come to drop a tear;
Then will his last cold pillow turn to roses,
Which thou hadst planted with the thorn severe;
Then will thy baseness stand confess'd, and all
Will curse the ungenerous fate, that bade a Poet fall.
* * * * *
Yet, ah! thy arrows are too keen, too sure:
Couldst thou not pitch upon another prey?
Alas! in robbing him thou robb'st the poor,
Who only boast what thou wouldst take away.
See the lone Bard at midnight study sitting,
O'er his pale features streams his dying lamp;
While o'er fond Fancy's pale perspective flitting,
Successive forms their fleet ideas stamp.
Yet say, is bliss upon his brow impress'd?
Does jocund Health in Thought's still mansion live?
Lo, the cold dews that on his temples rest,
That short quick sigh--their sad responses give.
And canst thou rob a poet of his song;
Snatch from the bard his trivial meed of praise?
Small are his gains, nor does he hold them long;
Then leave, oh, leave him to enjoy his lays
While yet he lives--for to his merits just,
Though future ages join his fame to raise,
Will the loud trump awake his cold unheeding dust?
* * * * *
Yes, my stray steps have wander'd, wander'd far
From thee, and long, heart-soothing Poesy!
And many a flower, which in the passing time
My heart hath register'd, nipp'd by the chill
Of undeserved neglect, hath shrunk and died.
Heart-soothing Poesy! Though thou hast ceased
To hover o'er the many-voiced strings
Of my long silent lyre, yet thou canst still
Call the warm tear from its thrice hallow'd cell,
And with recalled images of bliss
Warm my reluctant heart. Yes, I would throw,
Once more would throw a quick and hurried hand
O'er the responding chords. It hath not ceased--
It cannot, will not cease; the heavenly warmth
Plays round my heart, and mantles o'er my cheek;
Still, though unbidden, plays. Fair Poesy!
The summer and the spring, the wind and rain,
Sunshine and storm, with various interchange,
Have mark'd full many a day, and week, and month.
Since by dark wood, or hamlet far retired,
Spell-struck, with thee I loiter'd. Sorceress!
I cannot burst thy bonds. It is but lift
Thy blue eyes to that deep-bespangled vault,
Wreathe thy enchanted tresses round thine arm,
And mutter some obscure and charmed rhyme,
And I could follow thee, on thy night's work,
Up to the regions of thrice chasten'd fire,
Or, in the caverns of the ocean flood,
Thrid the light mazes of thy volant foot.
Yet other duties call me, and mine ear
Must turn away from the high minstrelsy
Of thy soul-trancing harp, unwillingly
Must turn away; there are severer strains
(And surely they are sweet as ever smote
The ear of spirit, from this mortal coil
Released and disembodied), there are strains
Forbid to all, save those whom solemn thought,
Through the probation of revolving years,
And mighty converse with the spirit of truth,
Have purged and purified. To these my soul
Aspireth; and to this sublimer end
I gird myself, and climb the toilsome steep
With patient expectation. Yea, sometimes
Foretaste of bliss rewards me; and sometimes
Spirits unseen upon my footsteps wait,
And minister strange music, which doth seem
Now near, now distant, now on high, now low,
Then swelling from all sides, with bliss complete,
And full fruition filling all the soul.
Surely such ministry, though rare, may soothe
The steep ascent, and cheat the lassitude
Of toil; and but that my fond heart
Reverts to day-dreams of the summer gone,
When by clear fountain, or embower'd brake,
I lay a listless muser, prizing, far
Above all other lore, the poet's theme;
But for such recollections I could brace
My stubborn spirit for the arduous path
Of science unregretting; eye afar
Philosophy upon her steepest height,
And with bold step and resolute attempt
Pursue her to the innermost recess,
Where throned in light she sits, the Queen of Truth.
Woman of weeping eye, ah! for thy wretched lot,
Putting on smiles to lure the lewd passenger,
Smiling while anguish gnaws at thy heavy heart;
Sad is thy chance, thou daughter of misery,
Vice and disease are wearing thee fast away,
While the unfeeling ones sport with thy sufferings.
Destined to pamper the vicious one's appetite;
Spurned by the beings who lured thee from innocence;
Sinking unnoticed in sorrow and indigence;
Thou hast no friends, for they with thy virtue fled;
Thou art an outcast from house and from happiness;
Wandering alone on the wide world's unfeeling stage!
Daughter of misery, sad is thy prospect here;
Thou hast no friend to soothe down the bed of death;
None after thee inquires with solicitude;
Famine and fell disease shortly will wear thee down,
Yet thou hast still to brave often the winter's wind,
Loathsome to those thou wouldst court with thine hollow eyes.
Soon thou wilt sink into death's silent slumbering,
And not a tear shall fall on thy early grave.
Nor shall a single stone tell where thy bones are laid.
Once wert thou happy--thou wert once innocent;
But the seducer beguiled thee in artlessness,
Then he abandoned thee unto thine infamy.
Now he perhaps is reclined on a bed of down:
But if a wretch like him sleeps in security,
God of the red right arm! where is thy thunder-bolt?
TO MY LYRE.
Thou simple Lyre! thy music wild
Has served to charm the weary hour,
And many a lonely night has 'guiled,
When even pain has own'd, and smiled,
Its fascinating power.
Yet, O my Lyre! the busy crowd
Will little heed thy simple tones;
Them mightier minstrels harping loud
Engross,--and thou and I must shroud
Where dark oblivion 'thrones.
No hand, they diapason o'er,
Well skill'd I throw with sweep sublime;
For me, no academic lore
Has taught the solemn strain to pour,
Or build the polish'd rhyme.
Yet thou to sylvan themes canst soar;
Thou know'st to charm the woodland train;
The rustic swains believe thy power
Can hush the wild winds when they roar,
And still the billowy main.
These honours, Lyre, we yet may keep,
I, still unknown, may live with thee,
And gentle zephyr's wing will sweep
Thy solemn string, where low I sleep,
Beneath the alder tree.
This little dirge will please me more
Than the full requiem's swelling peal;
I'd rather than that crowds should sigh
For me, that from some kindred eye
The trickling tear should steal.
Yet dear to me the wreath of bay,
Perhaps from me debarr'd;
And dear to me the classic zone,
Which, snatch'd from learning's labour'd throne,
Adorns the accepted bard.
And O! if yet 'twere mine to dwell
Where Cam or Isis winds along,
Perchance, inspired with ardour chaste,
I yet might call the ear of taste
To listen to my song.
Oh! then, my little friend, thy style
I'd change to happier lays,
Oh! then the cloister'd glooms should smile,
And through the long, the fretted aisle
Should swell the note of praise.
TO AN EARLY PRIMROSE.
Mild offspring of a dark and sullen sire!
Whose modest form, so delicately fine,
Was nursed in whirling storms,
And cradled in the winds.
Thee when young spring first question'd winter's sway,
And dared the sturdy blusterer to the fight,
Thee on this bank he threw
To mark his victory.
In this low vale, the promise of the year,
Serene thou openest to the nipping gale,
Unnoticed and alone,
Thy tender elegance.
So virtue blooms, brought forth amid the storms
Of chill adversity, in some lone walk
Of life she rears her head,
Obscure and unobserved;
While every bleaching breeze that on her blows
Chastens her spotless purity of breast,
And hardens her to bear
Serene the ills of life.
ODE ADDRESSED TO H. FUSELI, ESQ. R. A.
ON SEEING ENGRAVINGS FROM HIS DESIGNS.
Mighty magician! who on Torneo's brow,
When sullen tempests wrap the throne of night,
Art wont to sit and catch the gleam of light
That shoots athwart the gloom opaque below;
And listen to the distant death-shriek long
From lonely mariner foundering in the deep,
Which rises slowly up the rocky steep,
While the weird sisters weave the horrid song:
Or, when along the liquid sky
Serenely chant the orbs on high,
Dost love to sit in musing trance,
And mark the northern meteor's dance
(While far below the fitful oar
Flings its faint pauses on the steepy shore),
And list the music of the breeze,
That sweeps by fits the bending seas;
And often bears with sudden swell
The shipwreck'd sailor's funeral knell,
By the spirits sung, who keep
Their night-watch on the treacherous deep,
And guide the wakeful helmsman's eye
To Helice in northern sky;
And there upon the rock reclined
With mighty visions fill'st the mind,
Such as bound in magic spell
Him who grasp'd the gates of Hell,
And, bursting Pluto's dark domain,
Held to the day the terrors of his reign.
Genius of Horror and romantic awe,
Whose eye explores the secrets of the deep,
Whose power can bid the rebel fluids creep,
Can force the inmost soul to own its law;
Who shall now, sublimest spirit,
Who shall now thy wand inherit,
From him thy darling child who best
Thy shuddering images expressed?
Sullen of soul, and stern, and proud,
His gloomy spirit spurn'd the crowd,
And now he lays his aching head
In the dark mansion of the silent dead.
Mighty magician! long thy wand has lain
Buried beneath the unfathomable deep;