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The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto IV

Still o'er my mind wild Fancy holds her sway,
Still on strange visionary land I stray.
Now scenes crowd thick! now indistinct appear!
Swift glide the months, and turn the varying year!

Near the Bull's horn light's rising monarch draws;
Now on its back the Pleiades he thaws
From vernal heat pale winter forc'd to fly,
Northward retires, yet turns a wat'ry eye:
Then with an aguish breath nips infant blooms,
Deprives unfolding spring of rich perfumes,
Shakes the slow-circling blood of human race,
And in sharp, livid looks contracts the face.
Now o'er Norwegian hills he strides away:
Such slipp'ry paths Ambition's steps betray.
Turning, with sighs, far spiral firs he sees,
Which bow obedient to the southern breeze.
Now from yon Zemblan rock his crest he shrouds,
Like Fame's, obscur'd amid the whitening clouds;
Thence his lost empire is with tears deplor'd:
Such tyrants shed o'er liberty restor'd.
Beneath his eye (that throws malignant light
Ten times the measur'd round of mortal sight)
A waste, pale-glimm'ring, like a moon, that wanes
A wild expanse of frozen sea contains.
It cracks! vast floating mountains beat the shore;
Far off he hears those icy ruins roar,
And from the hideous crash distracted flies,
Like one who feels his dying infant's cries.
Near, and more near the rushing torrents sound,
And one great rift runs thro' the vast profound,
Swift as a shooting meteor; groaning loud,
Like deep-roll'd thunder thro' a rending cloud.
The late-dark Pole now feels unsetting day;
In hurricanes of wrath he whirls his way;
O'er many a polar Alp to Frost he goes,
O'er crackling vales, embrown'd with melting snows;
Here bears stalk tenants of the barren space,
Few men! unsocial those!-a barb'rous race!
At length the cave appears! the race is run:
Now he recounts vast conquests lost, and won,
And taleful in th' embrace of Frost remains,
Barr'd from our climes, and bound in icy chains.

Meanwhile the sun his beams on Cancer throws,
Which now beneath his warmest influence glows.
From glowing Cancer fall'n, the King of day,
Red thro' the kindling Lion shoots his ray.
The tawny harvest pays the earlier plough,
And mellowing fruitage loads the bending bough.
'Tis day-spring. Now green lab'rinths I frequent,
Where Wisdom oft retires to meet Content.

The mounting lark her warbling anthem lends,
From note to note the ravish'd soul ascends;
As thus it would the patriarch's ladder climb,
By some good angel led to worlds sublime:
Oft (legends say) the snake, with waken'd ire,
Like Envy rears in many a scaly spire;
Then songsters droop, then yield their vital gore,
And innocence and music are no more.

Mild rides the morn in orient beauty drest,
An azure mantle, and a purple vest,
Which, blown by gales, her gemmy feet display,
Her amber tresses negligently gay.
Collected now her rosy hand they fill,
And, gently wrung, the pearly dew distil.
The songful zephyrs, and the laughing hours,
Breathe sweet; and strew her op'ning way with flow'rs

The chatt'ring swallows leave their nested care,
Each promising return with plenteous fare.
So the fond swain, who to the market hies,
Stills, with big hopes, his infant's tender cries.

Yonder two turtles, o'er their callow brood,
Hang hov'ring, ere they seek their guiltless food.
Fondly they bill. Now to their morning care,
Like our first parents, part the am'rous pair:
But ah!-a pair no more!-With spreading wings,
From the high-sounding cliff a vulture springs;
Steady he sails along th' aerial grey,
Swoops down, and bears yon tim'rous dove away.
Start we, who worse than vultures, Nimrods find,
Men meditating prey on human-kind?

Wild beasts to gloomy dens repace their way,
Where their couch'd young demand the slaughter'd prey.
Rooks, from their nodding nests, black-swarming fly,
And, in hoarse uproar, tell the fowler nigh.

Now, in his tabernacle rous'd, the sun
Is warn'd the blue etherial steep to run;
While on his couch of floating jasper laid,
From his bright eye Sleep calls the dewy shade.
The crystal dome transparent pillars raise,
Whence, beam'd from saphires, living azure plays;
The liquid floor, in-wrought with pearls divine,
Where all his labours in mosaic shine.
His coronet, a cloud of silver-white:
His robe with unconsuming crimson bright,
Varied with gems, all heaven's collected store!
While his loose locks descend, a golden show'r.
If to his steps compar'd, we tardy find
The Grecian racers, who out-strip the wind,
Fleet to the glowing race behold him start!
His quick'ning eyes a quiv'ring radiance dart,
And, while this last nocturnal flag is furl'd,
Swift into life and motion look the world.
The sun-flow'r now averts her blooming cheek
From west, to view his eastern lustre break.
What gay, creative pow'r his presence brings?
Hills, lawns, lakes, villages!-the face of things,
All night beneath successive shadows miss'd,
Instant begins in colours to exist:
But absent these from sons of riot keep,
Lost in impure, unmeditating sleep.
T'unlock his fence, the new-ris'n swain prepares,
And ere forth-driv'n recounts his fleecy cares;
When, lo! an ambush'd wolf, with hunger bold,
Springs at the prey, and fierce invades the fold!
But by the pastor not in vain defy'd,
Like our arch-foe by some celestial guide.

Spread on yon rock the sea-calf I survey:
Bask'd in the sun, his skin reflects the day.
He sees yon tow'r-like ship the waves divide,
And slips again beneath the glassy tide.

The wat'ry herbs, and shrubs, and vines, and flow'rs,
Rear their bent heads, o'ercharg'd with nightly show'rs.

Hail, glorious sun! to whose attractive fires,
The waken'd, vegetative life aspires!
The juices, wrought by thy directive force,
Thro' plants and trees perform their genial course,
Extend in root, with bark unyielding bind
The hearted trunk; or weave the branching rind;
Expand in leaves, in flow'ry blossoms shoot,
Bleed in rich gums, and swell in ripen'd fruit.
From thee, bright, universal Pow'r! began
Instinct in brute, and gen'rous love in man.

Talk'd I of love?-Yon swain, with am'rous air,
Soft swells his pipe, to charm the rural fair.
She milks the flocks, then, list'ning as he plays,
Steals, in the running brook, a conscious gaze.

The trout, that deep, in winter, ooz'd remains,
Up-springs, and sunward turns its crimson stains.

The tenants of the warren, vainly chas'd;
Now lur'd to ambient fields for green repast,
Seek their small, vaulted labyrinths in vain;
Entangling nets betray the skipping train;
Red massacres thro' their republic fly,
And heaps on heaps by ruthless spaniels die.

The fisher, who the lonely beech has stray'd,
And all the live-long night his net-work spread,
Drags in, and bears the loaded snare away;
Where flounce, deceiv'd, th' expiring finny prey.

Near Neptune's temple, (Neptune's now no more,)
Whose statue plants a trident on the shore,
In sportive rings the gen'rous dolphins wind,
And eye, and think the image human kind:
Dear, pleasing friendship!-See! the pile commands
The vale, and grim as Superstition stands!
Time's hand there, leaves its print of mossy green,
With hollows, carv'd for snakes, and birds obscene.

O, Gibbs, whose art the solemn fane can raise,
Where God delights to dwell, and man to praise;
When moulder'd thus the column falls away,
Like some great prince majestic in decay;
When Ignorance and Scorn the ground shall tread,
Where Wisdom tutor'd, and Devotion pray'd;
Where shall thy pompous work our wonder claim?
What, but the Muse alone, preserve thy name?

The sun shines broken thro' yon arch that rears
This once-round fabric, half-depriv'd by years,
Which rose a stately colonnade, and crown'd
Encircling pillars, now unfaithful found;
In fragments, these the fall of those forbode,
Which, nodding, just up-heave their crumbling load.
High, on yon column, which has batter'd stood,
Like some stripp'd oak, the grandeur of the wood,
The stork inhabits her aƫrial nest;
By her are liberty and peace carest;
She flies the realms that own despotic kings,
And only spreads o'er free-born states her wings.
The roof is now the daw's, or raven's haunt,
And loathsome toads in the dark entrance pant;
Or snakes, that lurk to snap the heedless fly,
And fated bird, that oft comes flutt'ring by.

An aqueduct across yon vale is laid,
Its channel thro' a ruin'd arch betray'd;
Whirl'd down a steep it flies with torrent-force,
Flashes, and roars, and plows a devious course.

Attracted mists a golden cloud commence,
While thro' high-colour'd air strike rays intense.
Betwixt two points, which yon steep mountains show,
Lies a mild bay, to which kind breezes flow.
Beneath a grotto, arch'd for calm retreat,
Leads length'ning in the rock-Be this my seat.
Heat never enters here; but coolness reigns
O'er zephyrs, and distilling, wat'ry veins.
Secluded now I trace th' instructive page,
And live o'er scenes of many a backward age;
Thro' days, months, years, thro' time's whole course I run,
And present stand where time itself begun.

Ye mighty Dead, of just, distinguish'd fame,
Your thoughts, (ye bright instructors!) here I claim.
Here ancient knowledge opens nature's springs;
Here truths historic give the hearts of kings;
Hence Contemplation learns white hours to find,
And labours virtue on th' attentive mind:
O lov'd retreat! thy joys content bestow,
Nor guilt nor shame, nor sharp repentance know.
What the fifth Charles long aim'd in power to see,
That happiness he found reserv'd in thee.

Now let me change the page-Here Tully weeps,
While in death's icy arms his Tullia sleeps,
His daughter dear!-Retir'd I see him mourn,
By all the frenzy now of anguish torn.
Wild his complaint! Nor sweeter sorrows strains,
When Singer for Alexis lost complains.
Each friend condoles, expostulates, reproves;
More than a father raving Tully loves;
Or Sallust censures thus!-Unheeding blame,
He schemes a temple to his Tullia's name.
Thus o'er my Hermit once did grief prevail,
Thus rose Olympia's tomb, his moving tale,
The sighs, tears, frantic starts, that banish rest,
And all the bursting sorrows of his breast.

But hark! a sudden pow'r attunes the air!
Th' inchanting sound enamour'd breezes bear;
Now low, now high, they sink, or lift the song,
Which the cave echoes sweet, and sweet the creeks prolong.

I listen'd, gaz'd, when, wond'rous to behold!
From ocean steam'd a vapour gath'ring roll'd:
A blue, round spot on the mid-roof it came,
Spread broad, and redden'd into dazzling flame.
Full-orb'd it shone, and dimm'd the swimming sight,
While doubling objects danc'd with darkling light.
Amaz'd I stood!-amaz'd I still remain!
What earthly pow'r this wonder can explain;
Gradual, at length, the lustre dies away:
My eyes restor'd, a mortal form survey.
My Hermit-friend! 'Tis he.-All hail (he cries)
I see, and would alleviate, thy surprize.
The vanish'd meteor, was heaven's message meant,
To warn thee hence: I know the high intent.
Hear then! in this sequester'd cave retir'd,
Departed saints converse with men inspir'd.
'Tis sacred ground; nor can thy mind endure,
Yet unprepar'd, an intercourse so pure.
Quick let us hence-And now extend thy views
O'er yonder lawn; there find the heav'n-born Muse!
Or seek her, where she trusts her tuneful tale
To the mid, silent wood, or vocal vale;
Where trees half check the light with trembling shades,
Close in deep glooms, or open clear in glades;
Or where surrounding vistas far descend,
The landscape varied at each less'ning end!
She, only she can mortal thought refine,
And raise thy voice to visitants divine.

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