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To Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bart From the South-West Coast Or Cumberland 1811

FAR from our home by Grasmere's quiet Lake,
From the Vale's peace which all her fields partake,
Here on the bleakest point of Cumbria's shore
We sojourn stunned by Ocean's ceaseless roar;
While, day by day, grim neighbour! huge Black Comb
Frowns deepening visibly his native gloom,
Unless, perchance rejecting in despite
What on the Plain 'we' have of warmth and light,
In his own storms he hides himself from sight.
Rough is the time; and thoughts, that would be free
From heaviness, oft fly, dear Friend, to thee;
Turn from a spot where neither sheltered road
Nor hedge-row screen invites my steps abroad;
Where one poor Plane-tree, having as it might
Attained a stature twice a tall man's height,
Hopeless of further growth, and brown and sere
Through half the summer, stands with top cut sheer,
Like an unshifting weathercock which proves
How cold the quarter that the wind best loves,
Or like a Centinel that, evermore
Darkening the window, ill defends the door
Of this unfinished house--a Fortress bare,
Where strength has been the Builder's only care;
Whose rugged walls may still for years demand
The final polish of the Plasterer's hand.
--This Dwelling's Inmate more than three weeks space
And oft a Prisoner in the cheerless place,
I--of whose touch the fiddle would complain,
Whose breath would labour at the flute in vain,
In music all unversed, nor blessed with skill
A bridge to copy, or to paint a mill,
Tired of my books, a scanty company!
And tired of listening to the boisterous sea--
Pace between door and window muttering rhyme,
An old resource to cheat a froward time!
Though these dull hours (mine is it, or their shame?)
Would tempt me to renounce that humble aim.
--But if there be a Muse who, free to take
Her seat upon Olympus, doth forsake
Those heights (like Phoebus when his golden locks
He veiled, attendant on Thessalian flocks)
And, in disguise, a Milkmaid with her pail
Trips down the pathways of some winding dale;
Or, like a Mermaid, warbles on the shores
To fishers mending nets beside their doors;
Or, Pilgrim-like, on forest moss reclined,
Gives plaintive ditties to the heedless wind,
Or listens to its play among the boughs
Above her head and so forgets her vows--
If such a Visitant of Earth there be
And she would deign this day to smile on me
And aid my verse, content with local bounds
Of natural beauty and life's daily rounds,
Thoughts, chances, sights, or doings, which we tell
Without reserve to those whom we love well--
Then haply, Beaumont! words in current clear
Will flow, and on a welcome page appear
Duly before thy sight, unless they perish here.
What shall I treat of? News from Mona's Isle?
Such have we, but unvaried in its style;
No tales of Runagates fresh landed, whence
And wherefore fugitive or on what pretence;
Of feasts, or scandal, eddying like the wind
Most restlessly alive when most confined.
Ask not of me, whose tongue can best appease
The mighty tumults of the HOUSE OF KEYS;
The last year's cup whose Ram or Heifer gained,
What slopes are planted, or what mosses drained:
An eye of fancy only can I cast
On that proud pageant now at hand or past,
When full five hundred boats in trim array,
With nets and sails outspread and streamers gay,
And chanted hymns and stiller voice of prayer,
For the old Manx-harvest to the Deep repair,
Soon as the herring-shoals at distance shine
Like beds of moonlight shifting on the brine.
Mona from our Abode is daily seen,
But with a wilderness of waves between;
And by conjecture only can we speak
Of aught transacted there in bay or creek;
No tidings reach us thence from town or field,
Only faint news her mountain sunbeams yield,
And some we gather from the misty air,
And some the hovering clouds, our telegraph, declare.
But these poetic mysteries I withhold;
For Fancy hath her fits both hot and cold,
And should the colder fit with You be on
When You might read, my credit would be gone.
Let more substantial themes the pen engage,
And nearer interests culled from the opening stage
Of our migration.--Ere the welcome dawn
Had from the east her silver star withdrawn,
The Wain stood ready, at our Cottage-door,
Thoughtfully freighted with a various store;
And long or ere the uprising of the Sun
O'er dew-damped dust our journey was begun,
A needful journey, under favouring skies,
Through peopled Vales; yet something in the guise
Of those old Patriarchs when from well to well
They roamed through Wastes where now the tented Arabs
dwell.
Say first, to whom did we the charge confide,
Who promptly undertook the Wain to guide
Up many a sharply-twining road and down,
And over many a wide hill's craggy crown,
Through the quick turns of many a hollow nook,
And the rough bed of many an unbridged brook?
A blooming Lass--who in her better hand
Bore a light switch, her sceptre of command
When, yet a slender Girl, she often led,
Skilful and bold, the horse and burthened sled
From the peat-yielding Moss on Gowdar's head.
What could go wrong with such a Charioteer
For goods and chattels, or those Infants dear,
A Pair who smilingly sate side by side,
Our hope confirming that the salt-sea tide
Whose free embraces we were bound to seek,
Would their lost strength restore and freshen the pale cheek?
Such hope did either Parent entertain
Pacing behind along the silent lane.
Blithe hopes and happy musings soon took flight,
For lo! an uncouth melancholy sight--
On a green bank a creature stood forlorn
Just half protruded to the light of morn,
Its hinder part concealed by hedge-row thorn
The Figure called to mind a beast of prey
Stript of its frightful powers by slow decay,
And, though no longer upon rapine bent,
Dim memory keeping of its old intent.
We started, looked again with anxious eyes,
And in that griesly object recognise
The Curate's Dog--his long-tried friend, for they,
As well we knew, together had grown grey.
The Master died, his drooping servant's grief
Found at the Widow's feet some sad relief;
Yet still he lived in pining discontent,
Sadness which no indulgence could prevent;
Hence whole day wanderings, broken nightly sleeps
And lonesome watch that out of doors he keeps;
Not oftentimes, I trust, as we, poor brute!
Espied him on his legs sustained, blank, mute,
And of all visible motion destitute,
So that the very heaving of his breath
Seemed stopt, though by some other power than death.
Long as we gazed upon the form and face,
A mild domestic pity kept its place,
Unscared by thronging fancies of strange hue
That haunted us in spite of what we knew.
Even now I sometimes think of him as lost
In second-sight appearances, or crost
By spectral shapes of guilt, or to the ground,
On which he stood, by spells unnatural bound,
Like a gaunt shaggy Porter forced to wait
In days of old romance at Archimago's gate.
Advancing Summer, Nature's law fulfilled,
The choristers in every grove had stilled;
But we, we lacked not music of our own,
For lightsome Fanny had thus early thrown,
Mid the gay prattle of those infant tongues,
Some notes prelusive, from the round of songs
With which, more zealous than the liveliest bird
That in wild Arden's brakes was ever heard,
Her work and her work's partners she can cheer,
The whole day long, and all days of the year.
Thus gladdened from our own dear Vale we pass
And soon approach Diana's Looking-glass!
To Loughrigg-tarn, round clear and bright as heaven,
Such name Italian fancy would have given,
Ere on its banks the few grey cabins rose
That yet disturb not its concealed repose
More than the feeblest wind that idly blows.
Ah, Beaumont! when an opening in the road
Stopped me at once by charm of what it showed,
The encircling region vividly exprest
Within the mirror's depth, a world at rest--
Sky streaked with purple, grove and craggy bield,
And the smooth green of many a pendent field,
And, quieted and soothed, a torrent small,
A little daring would-be waterfall,
One chimney smoking and its azure wreath,
Associate all in the calm Pool beneath,
With here and there a faint imperfect gleam
Of water-lilies veiled in misty steam--
What wonder at this hour of stillness deep,
A shadowy link 'tween wakefulness and sleep,
When Nature's self, amid such blending, seems
To render visible her own soft dreams,
If, mixed with what appeared of rock, lawn, wood,
Fondly embosomed in the tranquil flood,
A glimpse I caught of that Abode, by Thee
Designed to rise in humble privacy,
A lowly Dwelling, here to be outspread,
Like a small Hamlet, with its bashful head
Half hid in native trees. Alas 'tis not,
Nor ever was; I sighed, and left the spot
Unconscious of its own untoward lot,
And thought in silence, with regret too keen,
Of unexperienced joys that might have been;
Of neighbourhood and intermingling arts,
And golden summer days uniting cheerful hearts.
But time, irrevocable time, is flown.
And let us utter thanks for blessings sown
And reaped--what hath been, and what is, our own.
Not far we travelled ere a shout of glee,
Startling us all, dispersed my reverie;
Such shout as many a sportive echo meeting
Oft-times from Alpine 'chalets' sends a greeting.
Whence the blithe hail? behold a Peasant stand
On high, a kerchief waving in her hand!
Not unexpectant that by early day
Our little Band would thrid this mountain way,
Before her cottage on the bright hill side
She hath advanced with hope to be descried.
Right gladly answering signals we displayed,
Moving along a tract of morning shade,
And vocal wishes sent of like good will
To our kind Friend high on the sunny hill--
Luminous region, fair as if the prime
Were tempting all astir to look aloft or climb;
Only the centre of the shining cot
With door left open makes a gloomy spot,
Emblem of those dark corners sometimes found
Within the happiest breast on earthly ground.
Rich prospect left behind of stream and vale,
And mountain-tops, a barren ridge we scale;
Descend, and reach, in Yewdale's depths, a plain
With haycocks studded, striped with yellowing grain--
An area level as a Lake and spread
Under a rock too steep for man to tread,
Where sheltered from the north and bleak northwest
Aloft the Raven hangs a visible nest,
Fearless of all assaults that would her brood molest.
Hot sunbeams fill the steaming vale; but hark,
At our approach, a jealous watch-dog's bark,
Noise that brings forth no liveried Page of state,
But the whole household, that our coming wait.
With Young and Old warm greetings we exchange,
And jocund smiles, and toward the lowly Grange
Press forward by the teasing dogs unscared.
Entering, we find the morning meal prepared:
So down we sit, though not till each had cast
Pleased looks around the delicate repast--
Rich cream, and snow-white eggs fresh from the nest,
With amber honey from the mountain's breast;
Strawberries from lane or woodland, offering wild
Of children's industry, in hillocks piled;
Cakes for the nonce, and butter fit to lie
Upon a lordly dish; frank hospitality
Where simple art with bounteous nature vied,
And cottage comfort shuned not seemly pride.
Kind Hostess! Handmaid also of the feast,
If thou be lovelier than the kindling East,
Words by thy presence unrestrained may speak
Of a perpetual dawn from brow and cheek
Instinct with light whose sweetest promise lies,
Never retiring, in thy large dark eyes,
Dark but to every gentle feeling true,
As if their lustre flowed from ether's purest blue.
Let me not ask what tears may have been wept
By those bright eyes, what weary vigils kept,
Beside that hearth what sighs may have been heaved
For wounds inflicted, nor what toil relieved
By fortitude and patience, and the grace
Of heaven in pity visiting the place.
Not unadvisedly those secret springs
I leave unsearched: enough that memory clings,
Here as elsewhere, to notices that make
Their own significance for hearts awake,
To rural incidents, whose genial powers
Filled with delight three summer morning hours.
More cold my pen report of grave or gay
That through our gipsy travel cheered the way;
But, bursting forth above the waves, the Sun
Laughs at my pains, and seems to say, 'Be done.'
Yet, Beaumont, thou wilt not, I trust, reprove
This humble offering made by Truth to Love,
Nor chide the Muse that stooped to break a spell
Which might have else been on me yet:--
FAREWELL.

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Related quotes

The River Sings

The river sings
A voice rises above
Fairer than the water, rings

I know you well
For the river has told
All there is to tell

It sung of a maiden
Fair as the waters song
Her heart heavy laden

Though she sang
Her song was sorrowed
In voice the sadness rang

No words were needed
The river knew
Her voice it heeded

She walked alone
Her gaiety was lost
River, her only home

She listened to the water
Telling a story
Calling her River Daughter

The river sang, through day and night
Sang for her, the only listener
She joined the song, through dark and light

She called to her lover
Come free me!
Called with song and river

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Book Fifth-Books

WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,
Earth's paramount Creature! not so much for woes
That thou endurest; heavy though that weight be,
Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine
Doth melt away; but for those palms achieved
Through length of time, by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought; there, there, it is
That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto,
In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked
Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven
As her prime teacher, intercourse with man
Established by the sovereign Intellect,
Who through that bodily image hath diffused,
As might appear to the eye of fleeting time,
A deathless spirit. Thou also, man! hast wrought,
For commerce of thy nature with herself,
Things that aspire to unconquerable life;
And yet we feel--we cannot choose but feel--
That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart
It gives, to think that our immortal being
No more shall need such garments; and yet man,
As long as he shall be the child of earth,
Might almost 'weep to have' what he may lose,
Nor be himself extinguished, but survive,
Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate.
A thought is with me sometimes, and I say,--
Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes
Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch
Her pleasant habitations, and dry up
Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare,
Yet would the living Presence still subsist
Victorious, and composure would ensue,
And kindlings like the morning--presage sure
Of day returning and of life revived.
But all the meditations of mankind,
Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
By reason built, or passion, which itself
Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind
Some element to stamp her image on
In nature somewhat nearer to her own?
Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?

One day, when from my lips a like complaint
Had fallen in presence of a studious friend,
He with a smile made answer, that in truth
'Twas going far to seek disquietude;
But on the front of his reproof confessed
That he himself had oftentimes given way
To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told,
That once in the stillness of a summer's noon,
While I was seated in a rocky cave
By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced,
The famous history of the errant knight
Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts
Beset me, and to height unusual rose,
While listlessly I sate, and, having closed
The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea.
On poetry and geometric truth,
And their high privilege of lasting life,
From all internal injury exempt,
I mused; upon these chiefly: and at length,
My senses yielding to the sultry air,
Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream.
I saw before me stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes:
A lance he bore, and underneath one arm
A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell
Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight
Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide
Was present, one who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me; and while yet
I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight
Which the new-comer carried through the waste
Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone
(To give it in the language of the dream)
Was 'Euclid's Elements,' and 'This,' said he,
'Is something of more worth;' and at the word
Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape,
In colour so resplendent, with command
That I should hold it to my ear. I did so,
And heard that instant in an unknown tongue,
Which yet I understood, articulate sounds,
A loud prophetic blast of harmony;
An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold
Destruction to the children of the earth
By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased
The song, than the Arab with calm look declared
That all would come to pass of which the voice
Had given forewarning, and that he himself
Was going then to bury those two books:
The one that held acquaintance with the stars,
And wedded soul to soul in purest bond
Of reason, undisturbed by space or time;
The other that was a god, yea many gods,
Had voices more than all the winds, with power
To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe,
Through every clime, the heart of human kind.
While this was uttering, strange as it may seem,
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.
Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt
To cleave unto this man; but when I prayed
To share his enterprise, he hurried on
Reckless of me: I followed, not unseen,
For oftentimes he cast a backward look,
Grasping his twofold treasure.--Lance in rest,
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; yet not the knight,
But was an Arab of the desert too;
Of these was neither, and was both at once.
His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed;
And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes
Saw, over half the wilderness diffused,
A bed of glittering light: I asked the cause:
'It is,' said he, 'the waters of the deep
Gathering upon us;' quickening then the pace
Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode,
He left me: I called after him aloud;
He heeded not; but, with his twofold charge
Still in his grasp, before me, full in view,
Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste,
With the fleet waters of a drowning world
In chase of him; whereat I waked in terror,
And saw the sea before me, and the book,
In which I had been reading, at my side.

Full often, taking from the world of sleep
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld,
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given
A substance, fancied him a living man,
A gentle dweller in the desert, crazed
By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes;
Have shaped him wandering upon this quest!
Nor have I pitied him; but rather felt
Reverence was due to a being thus employed;
And thought that, in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched.
Enow there are on earth to take in charge
Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves,
Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear;
Enow to stir for these; yea, will I say,
Contemplating in soberness the approach
Of an event so dire, by signs in earth
Or heaven made manifest, that I could share
That maniac's fond anxiety, and go
Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least
Me hath such strong entrancement overcome,
When I have held a volume in my hand,
Poor earthly casket of immortal verse,
Shakespeare, or Milton, labourers divine!

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power
Of living nature, which could thus so long
Detain me from the best of other guides
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised,
Even in the time of lisping infancy;
And later down, in prattling childhood even,
While I was travelling back among those days,
How could I ever play an ingrate's part?
Once more should I have made those bowers resound,
By intermingling strains of thankfulness
With their own thoughtless melodies; at least
It might have well beseemed me to repeat
Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again,
In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale
That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now.
O Friend! O Poet! brother of my soul,
Think not that I could pass along untouched
By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak?
Why call upon a few weak words to say
What is already written in the hearts
Of all that breathe?--what in the path of all
Drops daily from the tongue of every child,
Wherever man is found? The trickling tear
Upon the cheek of listening Infancy
Proclaims it, and the insuperable look
That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave
There registered: whatever else of power
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be
Peculiar to myself, let that remain
Where still it works, though hidden from all search
Among the depths of time. Yet is it just
That here, in memory of all books which lay
Their sure foundations in the heart of man,
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse,
That in the name of all inspired souls--
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice
That roars along the bed of Jewish song,
And that more varied and elaborate,
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake
Our shores in England,--from those loftiest notes
Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made
For cottagers and spinners at the wheel,
And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs,
Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes,
Food for the hungry ears of little ones,
And of old men who have survived their joys--
'Tis just that in behalf of these, the works,
And of the men that framed them, whether known
Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves,
That I should here assert their rights, attest
Their honours, and should, once for all, pronounce
Their benediction; speak of them as Powers
For ever to be hallowed; only less,
For what we are and what we may become,
Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God,
Or His pure Word by miracle revealed.

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop
To transitory themes; yet I rejoice,
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared
Safe from an evil which these days have laid
Upon the children of the land, a pest
That might have dried me up, body and soul.
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self,
And things that teach as Nature teaches: then,
Oh! where had been the Man, the Poet where,
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend!
If in the season of unperilous choice,
In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales
Rich with indigenous produce, open ground
Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will,
We had been followed, hourly watched, and noosed,
Each in his several melancholy walk
Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed,
Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude;
Or rather like a stalled ox debarred
From touch of growing grass, that may not taste
A flower till it have yielded up its sweets
A prelibation to the mower's scythe.

Behold the parent hen amid her brood,
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part
And straggle from her presence, still a brood,
And she herself from the maternal bond
Still undischarged; yet doth she little more
Than move with them in tenderness and love,
A centre to the circle which they make;
And now and then, alike from need of theirs
And call of her own natural appetites,
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food,
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died
My honoured Mother, she who was the heart
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves:
She left us destitute, and, as we might,
Trooping together. Little suits it me
To break upon the sabbath of her rest
With any thought that looks at others' blame;
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love.
Hence am I checked: but let me boldly say,
In gratitude, and for the sake of truth,
Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught,
Fetching her goodness rather from times past,
Than shaping novelties for times to come,
Had no presumption, no such jealousy,
Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust
Our nature, but had virtual faith that He
Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk,
Doth also for our nobler part provide,
Under His great correction and control,
As innocent instincts, and as innocent food;
Or draws, for minds that are left free to trust
In the simplicities of opening life,
Sweet honey out of spurned or dreaded weeds.
This was her creed, and therefore she was pure
From anxious fear of error or mishap,
And evil, overweeningly so called;
Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes,
Nor selfish with unnecessary cares,
Nor with impatience from the season asked
More than its timely produce; rather loved
The hours for what they are, than from regard
Glanced on their promises in restless pride.
Such was she--not from faculties more strong
Than others have, but from the times, perhaps,
And spot in which she lived, and through a grace
Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness,
A heart that found benignity and hope,
Being itself benign.
My drift I fear
Is scarcely obvious; but, that common sense
May try this modern system by its fruits,
Leave let me take to place before her sight
A specimen pourtrayed with faithful hand.
Full early trained to worship seemliness,
This model of a child is never known
To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath
Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er
As generous as a fountain; selfishness
May not come near him, nor the little throng
Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path;
The wandering beggars propagate his name,
Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun,
And natural or supernatural fear,
Unless it leap upon him in a dream,
Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see
How arch his notices, how nice his sense
Of the ridiculous; not blind is he
To the broad follies of the licensed world,
Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd,
And can read lectures upon innocence;
A miracle of scientific lore,
Ships he can guide across the pathless sea,
And tell you all their cunning; he can read
The inside of the earth, and spell the stars;
He knows the policies of foreign lands;
Can string you names of districts, cities, towns,
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew
Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs;
All things are put to question; he must live
Knowing that he grows wiser every day
Or else not live at all, and seeing too
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:
For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.--Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch
To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray,
Within the pinfold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him; and they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and baffled his best skill,
Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind,
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school,
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings, I believe that there
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies!
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed)
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,--forgetful, too,
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, play
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded!--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters--but be that forgiven)--
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;
Not unresentful where self-justified;
Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy;
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth.
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,
Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!
And knowledge, rightly honoured with that name--
Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power!

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week,
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched,
But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast,
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore,
While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,
Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance.
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

A precious treasure had I long possessed,
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry--
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly,
With one not richer than myself, I made
A covenant that each should lay aside
The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more,
Till our joint savings had amassed enough
To make this book our own. Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house
The holidays returned me, there to find
That golden store of books which I had left,
What joy was mine! How often in the course
Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish,
For a whole day together, have I lain
Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream,
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun,
And there have read, devouring as I read,
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate!
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach,
Such as an idler deals with in his shame,
I to the sport betook myself again.

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides,
And o'er the heart of man; invisibly
It comes, to works of unreproved delight,
And tendency benign, directing those
Who care not, know not, think not, what they do.
The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances; legends penned
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps;
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised
By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun
By the dismantled warrior in old age,
Out of the bowels of those very schemes
In which his youth did first extravagate;
These spread like day, and something in the shape
Of these will live till man shall be no more.
Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours,
And 'they must' have their food. Our childhood sits,
Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past,
Nor what it augurs of the life to come;
But so it is; and, in that dubious hour--
That twilight--when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And, in the long probation that ensues,
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down--oh! then we feel, we feel,
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then,
Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape
Philosophy will call you: 'then' we feel
With what, and how great might ye are in league,
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,
An empire, a possession,--ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.
I am sad
At thought of rapture now for ever flown;
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own 'sakes', a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad
With a dear friend, and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake,
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds
That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought,
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,--nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned,
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add,
From heart-experience, and in humblest sense
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth
A daily wanderer among woods and fields
With living Nature hath been intimate,
Not only in that raw unpractised time
Is stirred to ecstasy, as others are,
By glittering verse; but further, doth receive,
In measure only dealt out to himself,
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature that exists in works
Of mighty Poets. Visionary power
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words:
There, darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,--there,
As in a mansion like their proper home,
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognised,
In flashes, and with glory not their own.

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The Prelude. (book V )

WHEN Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,
Earth's paramount Creature! not so much for woes
That thou endurest; heavy though that weight be,
Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine
Doth melt away; but for those palms achieved
Through length of time, by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought; there, there, it is
That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto,
In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked
Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven
As her prime teacher, intercourse with man
Established by the sovereign Intellect,
Who through that bodily image hath diffused,
As might appear to the eye of fleeting time,
A deathless spirit. Thou also, man! hast wrought,
For commerce of thy nature with herself,
Things that aspire to unconquerable life;
And yet we feel--we cannot choose but feel--
That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart
It gives, to think that our immortal being
No more shall need such garments; and yet man,
As long as he shall be the child of earth,
Might almost "weep to have" what he may lose,
Nor be himself extinguished, but survive,
Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate.
A thought is with me sometimes, and I say,--
Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes
Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch
Her pleasant habitations, and dry up
Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare,
Yet would the living Presence still subsist
Victorious, and composure would ensue,
And kindlings like the morning--presage sure
Of day returning and of life revived.
But all the meditations of mankind,
Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
By reason built, or passion, which itself
Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind
Some element to stamp her image on
In nature somewhat nearer to her own?
Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?

One day, when from my lips a like complaint
Had fallen in presence of a studious friend,
He with a smile made answer, that in truth
'Twas going far to seek disquietude;
But on the front of his reproof confessed
That he himself had oftentimes given way
To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told,
That once in the stillness of a summer's noon,
While I was seated in a rocky cave
By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced,
The famous history of the errant knight
Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts
Beset me, and to height unusual rose,
While listlessly I sate, and, having closed
The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea.
On poetry and geometric truth,
And their high privilege of lasting life,
From all internal injury exempt,
I mused; upon these chiefly: and at length,
My senses yielding to the sultry air,
Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream.
I saw before me stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes:
A lance he bore, and underneath one arm
A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell
Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight
Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide
Was present, one who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me; and while yet
I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight
Which the new-comer carried through the waste
Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone
(To give it in the language of the dream)
Was "Euclid's Elements," and "This," said he,
"Is something of more worth;" and at the word
Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape,
In colour so resplendent, with command
That I should hold it to my ear. I did so,
And heard that instant in an unknown tongue,
Which yet I understood, articulate sounds,
A loud prophetic blast of harmony;
An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold
Destruction to the children of the earth
By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased
The song, than the Arab with calm look declared
That all would come to pass of which the voice 0
Had given forewarning, and that he himself
Was going then to bury those two books:
The one that held acquaintance with the stars,
And wedded soul to soul in purest bond
Of reason, undisturbed by space or time;
The other that was a god, yea many gods,
Had voices more than all the winds, with power
To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe,
Through every clime, the heart of human kind.
While this was uttering, strange as it may seem,
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.
Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt
To cleave unto this man; but when I prayed
To share his enterprise, he hurried on
Reckless of me: I followed, not unseen,
For oftentimes he cast a backward look,
Grasping his twofold treasure.--Lance in rest,
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; yet not the knight,
But was an Arab of the desert too;
Of these was neither, and was both at once.
His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed;
And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes
Saw, over half the wilderness diffused,
A bed of glittering light: I asked the cause:
"It is," said he, "the waters of the deep
Gathering upon us;" quickening then the pace
Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode,
He left me: I called after him aloud;
He heeded not; but, with his twofold charge
Still in his grasp, before me, full in view,
Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste,
With the fleet waters of a drowning world
In chase of him; whereat I waked in terror,
And saw the sea before me, and the book,
In which I had been reading, at my side.

Full often, taking from the world of sleep
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld,
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given
A substance, fancied him a living man,
A gentle dweller in the desert, crazed
By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes;
Have shaped him wandering upon this quest!
Nor have I pitied him; but rather felt
Reverence was due to a being thus employed;
And thought that, in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched.
Enow there are on earth to take in charge
Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves,
Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear;
Enow to stir for these; yea, will I say,
Contemplating in soberness the approach
Of an event so dire, by signs in earth
Or heaven made manifest, that I could share
That maniac's fond anxiety, and go
Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least
Me hath such strong entrancement overcome,
When I have held a volume in my hand,
Poor earthly casket of immortal verse,
Shakespeare, or Milton, labourers divine!

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power
Of living nature, which could thus so long
Detain me from the best of other guides
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised,
Even in the time of lisping infancy;
And later down, in prattling childhood even,
While I was travelling back among those days,
How could I ever play an ingrate's part?
Once more should I have made those bowers resound,
By intermingling strains of thankfulness
With their own thoughtless melodies; at least
It might have well beseemed me to repeat
Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again,
In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale
That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now.
O Friend! O Poet! brother of my soul,
Think not that I could pass along untouched
By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak?
Why call upon a few weak words to say
What is already written in the hearts
Of all that breathe?--what in the path of all
Drops daily from the tongue of every child,
Wherever man is found? The trickling tear
Upon the cheek of listening Infancy
Proclaims it, and the insuperable look
That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave
There registered: whatever else of power
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be
Peculiar to myself, let that remain
Where still it works, though hidden from all search
Among the depths of time. Yet is it just
That here, in memory of all books which lay
Their sure foundations in the heart of man,
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse, 0
That in the name of all inspired souls--
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice
That roars along the bed of Jewish song,
And that more varied and elaborate,
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake
Our shores in England,--from those loftiest notes
Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made
For cottagers and spinners at the wheel,
And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs,
Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes,
Food for the hungry ears of little ones,
And of old men who have survived their joys--
'Tis just that in behalf of these, the works,
And of the men that framed them, whether known
Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves,
That I should here assert their rights, attest
Their honours, and should, once for all, pronounce
Their benediction; speak of them as Powers
For ever to be hallowed; only less,
For what we are and what we may become,
Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God,
Or His pure Word by miracle revealed.

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop
To transitory themes; yet I rejoice,
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared
Safe from an evil which these days have laid
Upon the children of the land, a pest
That might have dried me up, body and soul.
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self,
And things that teach as Nature teaches: then,
Oh! where had been the Man, the Poet where,
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend!
If in the season of unperilous choice,
In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales
Rich with indigenous produce, open ground
Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will,
We had been followed, hourly watched, and noosed,
Each in his several melancholy walk
Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed,
Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude;
Or rather like a stalled ox debarred
From touch of growing grass, that may not taste
A flower till it have yielded up its sweets
A prelibation to the mower's scythe.

Behold the parent hen amid her brood,
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part
And straggle from her presence, still a brood,
And she herself from the maternal bond
Still undischarged; yet doth she little more
Than move with them in tenderness and love,
A centre to the circle which they make;
And now and then, alike from need of theirs
And call of her own natural appetites,
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food,
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died
My honoured Mother, she who was the heart
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves:
She left us destitute, and, as we might,
Trooping together. Little suits it me
To break upon the sabbath of her rest
With any thought that looks at others' blame;
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love.
Hence am I checked: but let me boldly say,
In gratitude, and for the sake of truth,
Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught,
Fetching her goodness rather from times past,
Than shaping novelties for times to come,
Had no presumption, no such jealousy,
Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust
Our nature, but had virtual faith that He
Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk,
Doth also for our nobler part provide,
Under His great correction and control,
As innocent instincts, and as innocent food;
Or draws, for minds that are left free to trust
In the simplicities of opening life,
Sweet honey out of spurned or dreaded weeds.
This was her creed, and therefore she was pure
From anxious fear of error or mishap,
And evil, overweeningly so called;
Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes,
Nor selfish with unnecessary cares,
Nor with impatience from the season asked
More than its timely produce; rather loved
The hours for what they are, than from regard
Glanced on their promises in restless pride.
Such was she--not from faculties more strong
Than others have, but from the times, perhaps,
And spot in which she lived, and through a grace
Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness,
A heart that found benignity and hope,
Being itself benign.
My drift I fear
Is scarcely obvious; but, that common sense
May try this modern system by its fruits,
Leave let me take to place before her sight
A specimen pourtrayed with faithful hand.
Full early trained to worship seemliness,
This model of a child is never known
To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath 0
Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er
As generous as a fountain; selfishness
May not come near him, nor the little throng
Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path;
The wandering beggars propagate his name,
Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun,
And natural or supernatural fear,
Unless it leap upon him in a dream,
Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see
How arch his notices, how nice his sense
Of the ridiculous; not blind is he
To the broad follies of the licensed world,
Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd,
And can read lectures upon innocence;
A miracle of scientific lore,
Ships he can guide across the pathless sea,
And tell you all their cunning; he can read
The inside of the earth, and spell the stars;
He knows the policies of foreign lands;
Can string you names of districts, cities, towns,
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew
Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs;
All things are put to question; he must live
Knowing that he grows wiser every day
Or else not live at all, and seeing too
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:
For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.--Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch
To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray,
Within the pinfold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing-cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him; and they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and baffled his best skill,
Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind,
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school,
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings, I believe that there
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies!
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed) 0
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,--forgetful, too,
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, play
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded!--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters--but be that forgiven)--
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;
Not unresentful where self-justified;
Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy;
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth.
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,
Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!
And knowledge, rightly honoured with that name--
Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power!

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week,
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched,
But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast,
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore,
While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,
Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance.
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

A precious treasure had I long possessed,
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry--
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly,
With one not richer than myself, I made
A covenant that each should lay aside
The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more,
Till our joint savings had amassed enough
To make this book our own. Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house
The holidays returned me, there to find
That golden store of books which I had left,
What joy was mine! How often in the course
Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish,
For a whole day together, have I lain
Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream,
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun,
And there have read, devouring as I read,
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate!
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach,
Such as an idler deals with in his shame,
I to the sport betook myself again.

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides,
And o'er the heart of man; invisibly
It comes, to works of unreproved delight,
And tendency benign, directing those
Who care not, know not, think not, what they do.
The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances; legends penned
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps;
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised
By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun 0
By the dismantled warrior in old age,
Out of the bowels of those very schemes
In which his youth did first extravagate;
These spread like day, and something in the shape
Of these will live till man shall be no more.
Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours,
And 'they must' have their food. Our childhood sits,
Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past,
Nor what it augurs of the life to come;
But so it is; and, in that dubious hour--
That twilight--when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And, in the long probation that ensues,
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down--oh! then we feel, we feel,
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then,
Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape
Philosophy will call you: 'then' we feel
With what, and how great might ye are in league,
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,
An empire, a possession,--ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.
I am sad
At thought of rapture now for ever flown;
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own 'sakes', a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad
With a dear friend, and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake,
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds
That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought,
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,--nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned,
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add,
From heart-experience, and in humblest sense
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth
A daily wanderer among woods and fields
With living Nature hath been intimate,
Not only in that raw unpractised time
Is stirred to ecstasy, as others are,
By glittering verse; but further, doth receive,
In measure only dealt out to himself,
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature that exists in works
Of mighty Poets. Visionary power
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words:
There, darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,--there,
As in a mansion like their proper home, 0
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognised,
In flashes, and with glory not their own.

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M'Fingal - Canto IV

Now Night came down, and rose full soon
That patroness of rogues, the Moon;
Beneath whose kind protecting ray,
Wolves, brute and human, prowl for prey.
The honest world all snored in chorus,
While owls and ghosts and thieves and Tories,
Whom erst the mid-day sun had awed,
Crept from their lurking holes abroad.


On cautious hinges, slow and stiller,
Wide oped the great M'Fingal's cellar,
Where safe from prying eyes, in cluster,
The Tory Pandemonium muster.
Their chiefs all sitting round descried are,
On kegs of ale and seats of cider;
When first M'Fingal, dimly seen,
Rose solemn from the turnip-bin.
Nor yet his form had wholly lost
Th' original brightness it could boast,
Nor less appear'd than Justice Quorum,
In feather'd majesty before 'em.
Adown his tar-streak'd visage, clear
Fell glistening fast th' indignant tear,
And thus his voice, in mournful wise,
Pursued the prologue of his sighs.


"Brethren and friends, the glorious band
Of loyalty in rebel land!
It was not thus you've seen me sitting,
Return'd in triumph from town-meeting;
When blust'ring Whigs were put to stand,
And votes obey'd my guiding hand,
And new commissions pleased my eyes;
Blest days, but ah, no more to rise!
Alas, against my better light,
And optics sure of second-sight,
My stubborn soul, in error strong,
Had faith in Hutchinson too long.
See what brave trophies still we bring
From all our battles for the king;
And yet these plagues, now past before us,
Are but our entering wedge of sorrows!


"I see, in glooms tempestuous, stand
The cloud impending o'er the land;
That cloud, which still beyond their hopes
Serves all our orators with tropes;
Which, though from our own vapors fed,
Shall point its thunders on our head!
I see the Mob, beflipp'd at taverns,
Hunt us, like wolves, through wilds and caverns!
What dungeons open on our fears!
What horsewhips whistle round our ears!
Tar, yet in embryo in the pine,
Shall run on Tories' backs to shine;
Trees, rooted fair in groves of sallows,
Are growing for our future gallows;
And geese unhatch'd, when pluck'd in fray,
Shall rue the feathering of that day.


"For me, before that fatal time,
I mean to fly th' accursed clime,
And follow omens, which of late
Have warn'd me of impending fate.


"For late in visions of the night
The gallows stood before my sight;
I saw its ladder heaved on end;
I saw the deadly rope descend,
And in its noose, that wavering swang,
Friend Malcolm hung, or seem'd to hang.
How changed from him, who bold as lion,
Stood Aid-de-camp to Gen'ral Tryon,
Made rebels vanish once, like witches,
And saved his life, but dropp'd his breeches.
I scarce had made a fearful bow,
And trembling ask'd him, "How d'ye do;"
When lifting up his eyes so wide,
His eyes alone, his hands were tied;
With feeble voice, as spirits use,
Now almost choak'd by gripe of noose;


"Ah, fly my friend, he cried, escape,
And keep yourself from this sad scrape;
Enough you've talk'd and writ and plann'd;
The Whigs have got the upper hand.
Could mortal arm our fears have ended,
This arm (and shook it) had defended.
Wait not till things grow desperater,
For hanging is no laughing matter.
Adventure then no longer stay;
But call your friends and haste away.


"For lo, through deepest glooms of night,
I come to aid thy second-sight,
Disclose the plagues that round us wait,
And scan the dark decrees of fate.


"Ascend this ladder, whence unfurl'd
The curtain opes of t'other world;
For here new worlds their scenes unfold,
Seen from this backdoor of the old.
As when Æneas risk'd his life,
Like Orpheus vent'ring for his wife,
And bore in show his mortal carcase
Through realms of Erebus and Orcus,
Then in the happy fields Elysian,
Saw all his embryon sons in vision;
As shown by great Archangel, Michael,
Old Adam saw the world's whole sequel,
And from the mount's extended space,
The rising fortunes of his race:
So from this stage shalt thou behold
The war its coming scenes unfold,
Raised by my arm to meet thine eye;
My Adam, thou; thine Angel, I.


But first my pow'r, for visions bright,
Must cleanse from clouds thy mental sight,
Remove the dim suffusions spread,
Which bribes and salaries there have bred;
And from the well of Bute infuse
Three genuine drops of Highland dews,
To purge, like euphrasy and rue,
Thine eyes, for much thou hast to view.


Now freed from Tory darkness, raise
Thy head and spy the coming days.
For lo, before our second-sight,
The Continent ascends in light.
From north to south, what gath'ring swarms
Increase the pride of rebel arms!
Through every State our legions brave
Speed gallant marches to the grave,
Of battling Whigs the frequent prize,
While rebel trophies stain the skies.
Behold o'er northern realms afar
Extend the kindling flames of war!
See famed St. John's and Montreal
Doom'd by Montgomery's arm to fall!
Where Hudson with majestic sway
Through hills disparted plows his way,
Fate spreads on Bemus' heights alarms,
And pours destruction on our arms;
There Bennington's ensanguined plain,
And Stony-Point, the prize of Wayne.
Behold near Del'ware's icy roar,
Where morning dawns on Trenton's shore,
While Hessians spread their Christmas feasts,
Rush rude these uninvited guests;
Nor aught avails the captured crew
Their martial whiskers' grisly hue!
On Princeton plains our heroes yield,
And spread in flight the vanquish'd field;
While fear to Mawhood's heels puts on
Wings, wide as worn by Maia's son.
Behold the Pennsylvanian shore
Enrich'd with streams of British gore;
Where many a veteran chief in bed
Of honor rests his slumb'ring head,
And in soft vales, in land of foes,
Their wearied virtue finds repose!
See plund'ring Dunmore's negro band
Fly headlong from Virginia's strand;
And far on southern hills our cousins,
The Scotch M'Donalds, fall by dozens;
Or where King's Mountain lifts its head,
Our ruin'd bands in triumph led!
Behold, o'er Tarlton's blustring train
Defeat extends the captive chain!
Afar near Eutaw's fatal springs,
Lo, rebel Vict'ry spreads her wings!
Through all the land, in varied chace,
We hunt the rainbow of success,
In vain! their Chief, superior still,
Eludes our force with Fabian skill;
Or swift descending by surprize,
Like Prussia's eagle, sweeps the prize.


"I look'd; nor yet, oppress'd with fears,
Gave credit to my eyes or ears;
But held the sights an empty dream,
On Berkley's immaterial scheme;
And pond'ring sad with troubled breast,
At length my rising doubts express'd.
'Ah, whither thus, by rebels smitten,
Is fled th' omnipotence of Britain;
Or fail'd its usual guard to keep,
Absent from home or fast asleep?
Did not, retired to bowers Flysian,
Great Mars leave with her his commission,
And Neptune erst, in treaty free,
Give up dominion o'er the sea?
Else where's the faith of famed orations,
Address, debate and proclamations,
Or courtly sermon, laureat ode,
And ballads on the wat'ry God;
With whose high strains great George enriches
His eloquence of gracious speeches?
Not faithful to our Highland eyes,
These deadly forms of vision rise.
Some whig-inspiring rebel sprite
Now palms delusion on our sight.
I'd scarcely trust a tale so vain,
Should revelation prompt the strain;
Or Ossian's ghost the scenes rehearse
In all the melody of Erse."


"Too long," quoth Malcolm, "from confusion,
You've dwelt already in delusion;
As sceptics, of all fools the chief,
Hold faith in creeds of unbelief.
I come to draw thy veil aside
Of error, prejudice and pride.
Fools love deception, but the wise
Prefer sad truths to pleasing lies.
For know, those hopes can ne'er succeed,
That trust on Britain's breaking reed.
For weak'ning long from bad to worse,
By cureless atrophy of purse,
She feels at length with trembling heart,
Her foes have found her mortal part.
As famed Achilles, dipp'd by Thetis
In Styx, as sung in antient ditties,
Grew all case-harden'd o'er, like steel,
Invulnerable, save his heel;
And laugh'd at swords and spears and squibs,
And all diseases, but the kibes;
Yet met at last his deadly wound,
By Paris' arrow nail'd to ground:
So Britain's boasted strength deserts
In these her empire's utmost skirts,
Removed beyond her fierce impressions,
And atmosphere of omnipresence;
Nor to this shore's remoter ends
Her dwarf-omnipotence extends.
Hence in this turn of things so strange,
'Tis time our principles to change:
For vain that boasted faith, that gathers
No perquisite, but tar and feathers;
No pay, but stripes from whiggish malice,
And no promotion, but the gallows.
I've long enough stood firm and steady,
Half-hang'd for loyalty already,
And could I save my neck and pelf,
I'd turn a flaming whig myself.
But since, obnoxious here to fate,
This saving wisdom comes too late,
Our noblest hopes already crost,
Our sal'ries gone, our titles lost,
Doom'd to worse suff'rings from the mob,
Than Satan's surg'ries used on Job;
What hope remains, but now with sleight
What's left of us to save by flight?


'Now raise thine eyes, for visions true
Again ascending wait thy view.'


"I look'd; and clad in early light,
The spires of Boston met my sight;
The morn o'er eastern hills afar
Illumed the varied scenes of war;
Great Howe had sweetly in the lap
Of Loring taken out his nap;
When all th' encircling hills around
With instantaneous breastworks crown'd,
With pointed thunders met his sight,
Like magic, rear'd the former night.
Each summit, far as eye commands,
Shone, peopled with rebellious bands.
Aloft their tow'ring heroes rise,
As Titans erst assail'd the skies;
Leagued in superior force to prove
The sceptred hand of British Jove.
Mounds piled on hills ascended fair
With batt'ries placed in middle air,
That hurl'd their fiery bolts amain,
In thunder on the trembling plain.
I saw, along the prostrate strand
Our baffled generals quit the land,
Eager, as frighted mermaids, flee
T' our boasted element, the sea,
And tow'rd their town of refuge fly,
Like convict Jews condemn'd to die.
Then to the north I turn'd my eyes,
Where Saratoga's heights arise,
And saw our chosen vet'ran band
Descend in terror o'er the land;
T' oppose this fury of alarms,
Saw all New-England wake to arms,
And every Yankee, full of mettle,
Swarm forth, like bees at sound of kettle.
Not Rome, when Tarquin raped Lucretia,
Saw wilder must'ring of militia.
Through all the woods and plains of fight,
What mortal battles pain'd my sight,
While British corses strew'd the shore,
And Hudson tinged his streams with gore.
What tongue can tell the dismal day,
Or paint the parti-color'd fray,
When yeomen left their fields afar
To plow the crimson plains of war;
When zeal to swords transform'd their shares,
And turn'd their pruning hooks to spears,
Changed tailor's geese to guns and ball,
And stretch'd to pikes the cobbler's awl;
While hunters, fierce like mighty Nimrod,
Made on our troops a furious inroad,
And levelling squint on barrel round,
Brought our beau-officers to ground;
While sunburnt wigs, in high command,
Rush daring on our frighted band,
And ancient beards and hoary hair,
Like meteors, stream in troubled air;
While rifle-frocks drove Gen'rals cap'ring,
And Red-coats shrunk from leathern apron,
And epaulette and gorget run
From whinyard brown and rusty gun.
With locks unshorn not Samson more
Made useless all the show of war,
Nor fought with ass's jaw for rarity
With more success, or singularity.
I saw our vet'ran thousands yield,
And pile their muskets on the field,
And peasant guards, in rueful plight,
March off our captured bands from fight;
While every rebel fife in play
To Yankee-doodle tuned its lay,
And like the music of the spheres,
Mellifluous sooth'd their vanquish'd ears."


"Alas, I cried, what baleful star
Sheds fatal influence on the war?
And who that chosen Chief of fame,
That heads this grand parade of shame?"


"There see how fate, great Malcolm cried,
Strikes with its bolts the tow'rs of pride!
Behold that martial Macaroni,
Compound of Phoebus and Bellona,
Equipp'd alike for feast or fray,
With warlike sword and singsong lay,
Where equal wit and valour join!
This, this is he--the famed Burgoyne!
Who pawn'd his honor and commission,
To coax the patriots to submission,
By songs and balls secure allegiance,
And dance the ladies to obedience.
Oft his Camp-Muses he'll parade
At Boston in the grand blockade;
And well inspired with punch of arrack,
Hold converse sweet in tent or barrack,
Aroused to more poetic passion,
Both by his theme and situation.
For genius works more strong and clear
When close confined, like bottled beer.
So Prior's wit gain'd matchless power
By inspiration of the Tower;
And Raleigh, once to prison hurl'd,
Wrote the whole hist'ry of the world;
So Wilkes grew, while in jail he lay,
More patriotic every day,
But found his zeal, when not confined,
Soon sink below the freezing point,
And public spirit, once so fair,
Evaporate in open air.
But thou, great favourite of Venus,
By no such luck shalt cramp thy genius;
Thy friendly stars, till wars shall cease,
Shall ward th' ill fortune of release,
And hold thee fast in bonds not feeble,
In good condition still to scribble.
Such merit fate shall shield from firing,
Bomb, carcase, langridge and cold iron,
Nor trust thy doubly-laurell'd head,
To rude assaults of flying lead.
Hence thou, from Yankee troops retreating,
For pure good fortune shalt be beaten,
Not taken oft, released or rescued,
Pass for small change, like simple Prescott;
But captured then, as fates befall,
Shall stand thy fortune, once for all.
Then raise thy daring thoughts sublime,
And dip thy conq'ring pen in rhyme,
And changing war for puns and jokes,
Write new Blockades and Maids of Oaks."


This said, he turn'd and saw the tale
Had dyed my trembling cheeks with pale;
Then pitying in a milder vein,
Pursued the visionary strain;


"Too much perhaps hath pain'd your view,
From vict'ries of the Rebel crew.
Now see the deeds, not small or scanty,
Of British valour and humanity;
And learn from this heroic sight,
How England's sons and friends can fight,
In what dread scenes their courage grows,
And how they conquer all their foes."


I look'd, and saw in wintry skies
Our spacious prison-walls arise,
Where Britons, all their captives taming,
Plied them with scourging, cold and famine,
By noxious food and plagues contagious
Reduced to life's last, fainting stages.
Amid the dead, that crowd the scene,
The moving skeletons were seen.
Aloft the haughty Loring stood,
And thrived, like Vampire, on their blood,
And counting all his gains arising,
Dealt daily rations out, of poison.
At hand our troops, in vaunting strain,
Insulted all their wants and pain,
And turn'd upon the dying tribe
The bitter taunt and scornful gibe;
And British captains, chiefs of might,
Exulting in the joyous sight,
On foes disarm'd, with courage daring,
Exhausted all their tropes of swearing.
Distain'd around with rebel blood,
Like Milton's Lazar house it stood,
Where grim Despair presided Nurse,
And Death was Regent of the house.


Amazed I cried, "Is this the way
That British valor wins the day?"
More had I said in strains unwelcome,
Till interrupted thus by Malcolm.


"Blame not, said he, but learn the reason
Of this new mode of conq'ring treason.
'Tis but a wise, politic plan
To root out all the rebel clan;
For surely treason ne'er can thrive
Where not a soul is left alive;
A scheme all other chiefs to surpass,
And do th' effectual work to purpose.
Know, War itself is nothing further
Than th' art and mystery of Murther;
He, who most methods has essay'd,
Is the best Gen'ral of the trade,
And stands Death's plenipotentiary
To conquer, poison, starve and bury.
This Howe well knew and thus began;
(Despising Carlton's coaxing plan,
To keep his pris'ners well and merry,
And deal them food, like commissary,
And by parol or ransom vain,
Dismiss them all to fight again)
Hence his first captives, with great spirit
He tied up, for his troops to fire at,
And hoped they'd learn on foes thus taken,
To aim at rebels without shaking.
Then deep in stratagem, he plann'd
The sure destruction of the land;
Turn'd famine, torture and despair
To useful enginry of war;
Sent forth the small-pox, and the greater,
To thin the land of every traitor;
Spread desolation o'er their head,
And plagues in providence's stead;
Perform'd with equal skill and beauty
Th' avenging Angel's tour of duty:
Then bade these prison-walls arise,
Like temple tow'ring to the skies,
Where British Clemency renown'd
Might fix her seat on hallow'd ground,
(That Virtue, as each herald saith,
Of whole blood kin to Punic Faith)
Where all her godlike pow'rs unveiling,
She finds a grateful shrine to dwell in:
And at this altar for her honor,
Chose this High-priest to wait upon her,
Who with just rites, in ancient guise,
Offers the human sacrifice.
Here every day, her vot'ries tell,
She more devours, than th' idol Bel;
And thirsts more rav'nously for gore,
Than any worshipp'd Power before.
That ancient heathen godhead, Moloch,
Oft stay'd his stomach with a bullock;
And if his morning rage you'd check first,
One child sufficed him for a breakfast:
But British clemency with zeal
Devours her hundreds at a meal;
Right well by nat'ralists defined
A being of carniv'rous kind:
So erst Gargantua pleased his palate,
And eat six pilgrims up in sallad.
Not blest with maw less ceremonious
The wide-mouth'd whale, that swallow'd Jonas;
Like earthquake gapes, to death devote,
That open sepulchre, her throat;
The grave or barren womb you'd stuff,
And sooner bring to cry, enough;
Or fatten up to fair condition
The lean-flesh'd kine of Pharaoh's vision.


Behold her temple, where it stands
Erect, by famed Britannic hands.
'Tis the Black-hole of Indian structure,
New-built in English architecture,
On plan, 'tis said, contrived and wrote
By Clive, before he cut his throat;
Who, ere he took himself in hand,
Was her high-priest in nabob-land:
And when with conq'ring triumph crown'd,
He'd well enslaved the nation round,
With tender British heart, the Chief,
Since slavery's worse than loss of life,
Bade desolation circle far,
And famine end the work of war;
And loosed their chains, and for their merits
Dismiss'd them free to worlds of spirits.
Whence they with choral hymns of praise,
Return'd to sooth his latter days,
And hov'ring round his restless bed,
Spread nightly visions o'er his head.


Now turn thine eyes to nobler sights,
And mark the prowess of our fights.
Behold, like whelps of Britain's lion,
Our warriors, Clinton, Vaughan, and Tryon,
March forth with patriotic joy
To ravish, plunder, burn, destroy.
Great Gen'rals, foremost in their nation,
The journeymen of Desolation!
Like Samson's foxes, each assails,
Let loose with firebrands in their tails,
And spreads destruction more forlorn,
Than they among Philistine corn.
And see in flames their triumphs rise,
Illuming all the nether skies,
O'er-streaming, like a new Aurora,
The western hemisphere with glory!
What towns, in ashes laid, confess
These heroes' prowess and success!
What blacken'd walls and burning fanes,
For trophies spread the ruin'd plains!
What females, caught in evil hour,
By force submit to British power;
Or plunder'd negroes in disaster
Confess King George their lord and master!
What crimson corses strew their way,
What smoaking carnage dims the day!
Along the shore, for sure reduction,
They wield the besom of destruction.
Great Homer likens, in his Ilias,
To dogstar bright the fierce Achilles;
But ne'er beheld in red procession
Three dogstars rise in constellation,
Nor saw, in glooms of evening misty,
Such signs of fiery triplicity,
Which, far beyond the comet's tail,
Portend destruction where they sail.
Oh, had Great-Britain's warlike shore
Produced but ten such heroes more,
They'd spared the pains, and held the station
Of this world's final conflagration;
Which when its time comes, at a stand,
Would find its work all done t' its hand!


Yet though gay hopes our eyes may bless,
Malignant fate forbids success;
Like morning dreams our conquest flies,
Dispersed before the dawn arise."


Here Malcolm paused; when pond'ring long
Grief thus gave utt'rance to my tongue.
"Where shrink in fear our friends dismay'd,
And where the Tories' promised aid?
Can none, amid these fierce alarms,
Assist the power of royal arms?"
"In vain, he cried, our King depends
On promised aid of Tory friends.
When our own efforts want success,
Friends ever fail, as fears increase.
As leaves, in blooming verdure wove,
In warmth of summer clothe the grove,
But when autumnal frosts arise,
Leave bare their trunks to wintry skies:
So, while your power can aid their ends,
You ne'er can need ten thousand friends;
But once in want, by foes dismay'd,
May advertise them, stol'n or stray'd.
Thus ere Great-Britain's force grew slack,
She gain'd that aid she did not lack;
But now in dread, imploring pity,
All hear unmoved her dol'rous ditty;
Allegiance wand'ring turns astray,
And Faith grows dim for lack of pay.
In vain she tries, by new inventions,
Fear, falsehood, flatt'ry, threats and pensions;
Or sends Commiss'ners with credentials
Of promises and penitentials.
As, for his fare o'er Styx of old,
The Trojan stole the bough of gold,
And least grim Cerb'rus should make head,
Stuff'd both his fobs with ginger-bread:
Behold, at Britain's utmost shifts,
Comes Johnstone loaded with like gifts,
To venture through the whiggish tribe,
To cuddle, wheedle, coax and bribe:
And call, to aid his desp'rate mission,
His petticoated politician,
While Venus, join'd to act the farce,
Strolls forth embassadress for Mars.
In vain he strives, for while he lingers,
These mastiffs bite his off'ring fingers;
Nor buys for George and realms infernal
One spaniel, but the mongrel, Arnold.


"'Twere vain to paint, in vision'd show,
The mighty nothings done by Howe;
What towns he takes in mortal fray,
As stations whence to run away;
What triumphs gain'd in conflict warm,
No aid to us, to them no harm;
For still th' event alike is fatal,
Whate'er success attend the battle,
Whether he vict'ry gain or lose it,
Who ne'er had skill enough to use it.
And better 'twere, at their expense,
T' have drubb'd him into common sense,
And waked, by bastings on his rear,
Th' activity, though but of fear.
By slow advance his arms prevail,
Like emblematic march of snail,
That, be Millennium nigh or far,
'Twould long before him end the war.
From York to Philadelphian ground,
He sweeps the pompous flourish round,
Wheel'd circ'lar by eccentric stars,
Like racing boys at prison-bars,
Who take th' opposing crew in whole,
By running round the adverse goal;
Works wide the traverse of his course,
Like ship t' evade the tempest's force;
Like mill-horse circling in his race,
Advances not a single pace,
And leaves no trophies of reduction,
Save that of cankerworms, destruction.
Thus having long both countries curst,
He quits them as he found them first,
Steers home disgraced, of little worth,
To join Burgoyne and rail at North.


"Now raise thine eyes and view with pleasure,
The triumphs of his famed successor."


"I look'd, and now by magic lore
Faint rose to view the Jersey shore:
But dimly seen in gloom array'd,
For night had pour'd her sable shade,
And every star, with glimm'rings pale,
Was muffled deep in ev'ning veil.
Scarce visible, in dusky night
Advancing red-coats rose in sight;
The length'ning train in gleaming rows
Stole silent from their slumb'ring foes;
No trembling soldier dared to speak,
And not a wheel presumed to creak.
My looks my new surprize confess'd,
Till by great Malcolm thus address'd.
"Spend not thy wits in vain researches;
'Tis one of Clinton's moonlight marches.
From Philadelphia now retreating
To save his baffled troops a beating,
With hasty strides he flies in vain,
His rear attack'd on Monmouth plain.
With various chance the dread affray
Holds in suspense till close of day,
When his tired bands, o'ermatch'd in fight,
Are rescued by descending night.
He forms his camp, with great parade,
While evening spreads the world in shade,
Then still, like some endanger'd spark,
Steals off on tiptoe in the dark:
Yet writes his king in boasting tone
How grand he march'd by light of moon.
I see him, but thou canst not; proud
He leads in front the trembling crowd,
And wisely knows, as danger's near,
'Twill fall much heaviest on his rear.
Go on, great Gen'ral, nor regard
The scoffs of every scribbling bard;
Who sings how gods, that fearful night,
Aided by miracle your flight,
As once they used, in Homer's day,
To help weak heroes run away;
Tells how the hours, at this sad trial,
Went back, as erst on Ahaz' dial,
While British Joshua stay'd the moon
On Monmouth plains for Ajalon.
Heed not their sneers or gibes so arch,
Because she set before your march.
A small mistake! your meaning right;
You take her influence for her light:
Her influence, which shall be your guide,
And o'er your Gen'ralship preside.
Hence still shall teem your empty skull
With vict'ries, when the moon's at full,
Which by transition passing strange
Wane to defeats before the change.
Still shall you steer, on land or ocean,
By like eccentric lunar motion;
Eclips'd in many a fatal crisis,
And dimm'd when Washington arises.


"And see how Fate, herself turn'd traitor,
Inverts the ancient course of nature;
And changes manners, tempers, climes,
To suit the genius of the times!
See, Bourbon forms a gen'rous plan,
New guardian of the rights of man,
And prompt in firm alliance joins
To aid the Rebels' proud designs!
Behold from realms of eastern day
His sails innum'rous shape their way,
In warlike line the billows sweep,
And roll the thunders of the deep!
See, low in equinoctial skies,
The western islands fall their prize;
See British flags, o'ermatch'd in might,
Put all their faith in instant flight,
Or broken squadrons, from th' affray,
Drag slow their wounded hulks away!
Behold his Chiefs, in daring setts,
D'Estaignes, De Grasses and Fayettes,
Spread through our camps their dread alarms,
And swell the fear of rebel arms!
Yet ere our glories sink in night,
A gleam of hope shall strike your sight;
As lamps, that fail of oil and fire,
Collect one glimm'ring to expire.


"For lo, where southern shores extend,
Behold our gather'd hosts descend,
Where Charleston views, with varying beams
Her turrets gild th' encircling streams!
There by superior force compell'd,
Behold their gallant Lincoln yield;
Nor aught the wreaths avail him now,
Pluck'd from Burgoyne's imperious brow.
See, furious from the vanquish'd strand,
Cornwallis leads his mighty band;
The southern realms and Georgian shore
Submit and own the victor's power;
Lo! sunk before his wasting way,
The Carolinas fall his prey!
See, shrinking from his conq'ring eye,
The Rebel legions fall or fly;
And with'ring in these torrid skies,
The northern laurel fades and dies!
With rapid force he leads his train
To fair Virginia's cultured plain,
Triumphant eyes the travell'd zone,
And boasts the southern realm his own.


"Nor yet this hero's glories bright
Blaze only in the fields of fight.
Not Howe's humanity more deserving
In gifts of hanging and of starving;
Not Arnold plunders more tobacco,
Or steals more negroes for Jamaica;
Scarce Rodney's self, among th' Eustatians,
Insults so well the laws of nations;
Ev'n Tryon's fame grows dim, and mourning
He yields the civic crown of burning.
I see, with pleasure and surprize,
New triumph sparkling in your eyes;
But view, where now renew'd in might,
Again the Rebels dare the fight."
"I look'd, and far in southern skies
Saw Greene, their second hope, arise,
And with his small, but gallant, band.
Invade the Carolinian land.
As winds, in stormy circles whirl'd,
Rush billowy o'er the darken'd world,
And where their wasting fury roves
Successive sweep th' astonish'd groves:
Thus where he pours the rapid fight,
Our boasted conquests sink in night,
And far o'er all the extended field
Our forts resign, our armies yield,
Till now, regain'd the vanquish'd land,
He lifts his standard on the strand.


"Again to fair Virginia's coast
I turn'd and view'd the British host,
Where Chesapeak's wide waters lave
Her shores and join th' Atlantic wave.
There famed Cornwallis tow'ring rose,
And scorn'd secure his distant foes;
His bands the haughty rampart raise,
And bid the Royal standard blaze.
When lo, where ocean's bounds extend,
Behold the Gallic sails ascend,
With fav'ring breezes stem their way,
And crowd with ships the spacious bay.
Lo! Washington, from northern shores,
O'er many a region wheels his force,
And Rochambeau, with legions bright,
Descends in terror to the fight.
Not swifter cleaves his rapid way
The eagle, cow'ring o'er his prey;
Or knights in famed romance, that fly
On fairy pinions through the sky.
Amazed, the Briton's startled pride
Sees ruin wake on every side,
And all his troops, to fate consign'd,
By instantaneous stroke, Burgoyned.
Not Cadmus view'd with more surprise,
From earth embattled armies rise,
Who from the dragon's teeth beheld
Men starting fierce with spear and shield.
I saw, with looks downcast and grave,
The Chief emerging from his cave,
Where chased, like fox, in mighty round,
His hunters earth'd him first in ground;
And doom'd by fate to rebel sway,
Yield all his captured host a prey.
There while I view'd the vanquish'd town,
Thus with a sigh my friend went on."


"Behold'st thou not that band forlorn,
Like slaves in Roman triumphs borne,
Their faces length'ning with their fears,
And cheeks distain'd with streams of tears;
Like dramatis personæ sage,
Equipp'd to act on Tyburn's stage.
Lo, these are they, who lured by follies
Left all, and follow'd great Cornwallis,
Expectant of the promised glories,
And new Millennial reign of Tories!
Alas! in vain, all doubts forgetting,
They tried th' omnipotence of Britain;
But found her arm, once strong and brave,
So shorten'd now, she cannot save.
Not more aghast, departed souls
Who risk'd their fate on Popish bulls,
And find St. Peter, at the wicket,
Refuse to countersign their ticket,
When driven to purgatory back,
With each his pardon in his pack;
Than Tories, must'ring at their stations,
On faith of royal proclamations.
As Pagan chiefs at every crisis,
Confirm'd their leagues by sacrifices,
And herds of beasts, to all their deities,
Oblations fell, at close of treaties:
Cornwallis thus, in ancient fashion,
Concludes his grand capitulation;
And heedless of their screams or suff'rings,
Gives up the Tories for sin-off'rings.
See where, relieved from sad embargo,
Steer off consign'd a recreant cargo;
Like old scape-goats to roam in pain,
Mark'd like their great forerunner, Cain.
The rest now doom'd by British leagues
To vengeance of resentful Whigs,
Hold doubtful lives on tenure ill
Of tenancy at Rebel-will,
While hov'ring o'er their forfeit persons,
The gallows waits his just reversions.


"Thou too, M'Fingal, ere that day,
Shalt taste the terrors of th' affray.
See, o'er thee hangs in angry skies,
Where Whiggish Constellations rise,
And while plebeian signs ascend,
Their mob-inspiring aspects bend,
That baleful Star, whose horrid hair
Shakes forth the plagues of down and tar!
I see the pole, that rears on high
Its flag terrific through the sky;
The mob beneath prepared t' attack,
And tar predestined for thy back.
Ah quit, my friend, this dang'rous home,
Nor wait the darker scenes to come.
For know, that fate's auspicious door,
Once shut to flight, is oped no more;
Nor wears its hinge, by changing stations,
Like Mercy's door in Proclamations.


"But lest thou pause, or doubt to fly,
To stranger visions turn thine eye.
Each cloud, that dimm'd thy mental ray,
And all the mortal mists decay.
See, more than human pow'rs befriend,
And lo! their hostile forms ascend.
There tow'ring o'er the extended strand,
The Genius of this western land,
For vengeance arm'd, his sword assumes,
And stands, like Tories, dress'd in plumes!
See, o'er yon Council-seat, with pride
How Freedom spreads her banners wide!
There Patriotism, with torch address'd
To fire with zeal each daring breast;
While all the Virtues in their train,
Escaped with pleasure o'er the main,
Desert their ancient British station,
Possess'd with rage of emigration.
Honor, his bus'ness at a stand,
For fear of starving quits their land;
And Justice, long disgraced at Court, had
By Mansfield's sentence been transported.
Vict'ry and Fame attend their way,
Though Britain wish their longer stay;
Care not what George or North would be at,
Nor heed their writs of Ne exeat;
But fired with love of colonizing,
Quit the fall'n empire for the rising."


"I look'd, and saw, with horror smitten,
These hostile pow'rs averse to Britain.


"When lo, an awful spectre rose,
With languid paleness on his brows;
Wan dropsies swell'd his form beneath,
And iced his bloated cheeks with death;
His tatter'd robes exposed him bare
To every blast of ruder air;
On two weak crutches propp'd he stood,
That bent at every step he trod;
Gilt titles graced their sides so slender,
One, "Regulation," t'other, "Tender;"
His breastplate graved, with various dates,
"The Faith of all th' United States;"
Before him went his funeral pall,
His grave stood, dug to wait his fall.


"I started, and aghast I cried,
"What means this spectre at their side?
What danger from a pow'r so vain,
Or union with that splendid train?"


"Alas, great Malcolm cried, experience
Might teach you not to trust appearance.
Here stands, as dress'd by fell Bellona,
The ghost of Continental Money!
Of Dame Necessity descended,
With whom Credulity engender'd:
Though born with constitution frail,
And feeble strength, that soon must fail,
Yet strangely vers'd in magic lore,
And gifted with transforming power.
His skill the wealth Peruvian joins,
With diamonds of Brazilian mines.
As erst Jove fell, by subtle wiles,
On Danae's apron through the tiles,
In show'rs of gold; his potent wand
Shall shed like show'rs o'er all the land.
Less great the wondrous art was reckon'd
Of tallies cast by Charles the second,
Or Law's famed Missisippi schemes,
Or all the wealth of South-Sea dreams.
For he, of all the world, alone
Owns the long-sought Philos'pher's stone,
Restores the fabulous times to view,
And proves the tale of Midas true.
O'er heaps of rags he waves his wand;
All turn to gold at his command,
Provide for present wants and future,
Raise armies, victual, clothe, accoutre,
Adjourn our conquests by essoin,
Check Howe's advance, and take Burgoyne;
Then makes all days of payment vain,
And turns all back to rags again.
In vain great Howe shall play his part
To ape and counterfeit his art;
In vain shall Clinton, more belated,
A conj'rer turn to imitate it.
With like ill luck and pow'rs as narrow,
They'll fare, like sorcerers of old Pharaoh;
Who, though the art they understood
Of turning rivers into blood,
And caused their frogs and snakes t' exist,
That with some merit croak'd and hiss'd,
Yet ne'er by every quaint device
Could frame the true Mosaic lice.
He for the Whigs his arts shall try,
Their first, and long their sole, ally;
A Patriot firm, while breath he draws,
He'll perish in his Country's cause,
And when his magic labors cease,
Lie buried in eternal peace.


Now view the scenes, in future hours,
That wait the famed European powers.
See, where yon chalky cliffs arise,
The hills of Britain strike your eyes;
Its small extension long supplied
By full immensity of pride;
So small, that had it found a station
In this new world, at first creation,
Or doom'd by justice, been betimes
Transported over for its crimes,
We'd find full room for't in lake Erie, or
That larger water-pond, Superior,
Where North at margin taking stand,
Would scarce be able to spy land.
See, dwindling from her height amain,
What piles of ruin spread the plain;
With mould'ring hulks her ports are fill'd,
And brambles clothe the lonely field!
See, on her cliffs her Genius lies,
His handkerchief at both his eyes,
With many a deep-drawn sigh and groan,
To mourn her ruin, and his own!
While joyous Holland, France and Spain
With conq'ring navies awe the main;
And Russian banners wide unfurl'd
Spread commerce round the eastern world.


And see, (sight hateful and tormenting!)
This Rebel Empire, proud and vaunting,
From anarchy shall change her crasis,
And fix her pow'r on firmer basis;
To glory, wealth and fame ascend,
Her commerce wake, her realms extend;
Where now the panther guards his den,
Her desert forests swarm with men;
Gay cities, tow'rs and columns rise,
And dazzling temples meet the skies;
Her pines, descending to the main,
In triumph spread the wat'ry plain,
Ride inland seas with fav'ring gales,
And crowd her ports with whitening sails:
Till to the skirts of western day,
The peopled regions own her sway."


Thus far M'Fingal told his tale,
When startling shouts his ears assail;
And strait the Constable, their sentry,
Aghast rush'd headlong down the entry,
And with wild outcry, like magician,
Dispersed the residue of vision.
For now the Whigs the news had found
Of Tories must'ring under ground,
And with rude bangs and loud uproar,
'Gan thunder furious at the door.
The lights put out, each tory calls,
To cover him on cellar walls,
Creeps in each box, or bin, or tub,
To hide him from the rage of mob,
Or lurks, where cabbage-heads in row
Adorn'd the sides with verdant show.
M'Fingal deem'd it vain to stay,
And risk his bones in second fray:
But chose a grand retreat from foes,
In literal sense, beneath their nose.
The window then, which none else knew,
He softly open'd and crept through,
And crawling slow in deadly fear,
By movements wise made good his rear.
Then scorning all the fame of martyr,
For Boston took his swift departure,
Nor look'd back on the fatal spot,
More than the family of Lot.
Not North in more distress'd condition,
Out-voted first by opposition;
Nor good King George, when our dire phantom
Of Independence came to haunt him,
Which hov'ring round by night and day,
Not all his conj'rors e'er could lay.
His friends, assembled for his sake,
He wisely left in pawn, at stake,
To tarring, feath'ring, kicks and drubs
Of furious, disappointed mobs,
Or with their forfeit heads to pay
For him, their leader, crept away.
So when wise Noah summon'd greeting,
All animals to gen'ral meeting,
From every side the members went,
All kinds of beasts to represent;
Each, from the flood, took care t' embark,
And save his carcase in the ark:
But as it fares in state and church,
Left his constituents in the lurch.

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In Peace

A track of moonlight on a quiet lake,
Whose small waves on a silver-sanded shore
Whisper of peace, and with the low winds make
Such harmonies as keep the woods awake,
And listening all night long for their sweet sake
A green-waved slope of meadow, hovered o'er
By angel-troops of lilies, swaying light
On viewless stems, with folded wings of white;
A slumberous stretch of mountain-land, far seen
Where the low westering day, with gold and green,
Purple and amber, softly blended, fills
The wooded vales, and melts among the hills;
A vine-fringed river, winding to its rest
On the calm bosom of a stormless sea,
Bearing alike upon its placid breast,
With earthly flowers and heavenly' stars impressed,
The hues of time and of eternity
Such are the pictures which the thought of thee,
O friend, awakeneth,--charming the keen pain
Of thy departure, and our sense of loss
Requiting with the fullness of thy gain.
Lo! on the quiet grave thy life-borne cross,
Dropped only at its side, methinks doth shine,
Of thy beatitude the radiant sign!
No sob of grief, no wild lament be there,
To break the Sabbath of the holy air;
But, in their stead, the silent-breathing prayer
Of hearts still waiting for a rest like thine.
O spirit redeemed! Forgive us, if henceforth,
With sweet and pure similitudes of earth,
We keep thy pleasant memory freshly green,
Of love's inheritance a priceless part,
Which Fancy's self, in reverent awe, is seen
To paint, forgetful of the tricks of art,
With pencil dipped alone in colors of the heart.

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Danger Zone

Midnight, something dont feel right
Its been too much, too far away from home
Hard life, living the hard life
I cant resist, Im falling
To the danger zone
All day long Im pushed and shoved
I just cant get enough
In the danger zone
Red light, dont stop for no red light
You know Im always trouble on my own
Lonely, ever so lonely
Ive got too much time
Im heading for the danger zone
All day long Im pushed and shoved
I just cant get enough
In the danger zone
Im eager, eager to please
I cant stand no more
Its got me on my knees
Aint gonna feel no hurt
Aint gonna feel no pain
I got nothin left to lose
I aint got no shame
Dont try to stop me
Just leave me on my own
Im gonna live or die
In the danger zone
Im living in the danger zone
In the danger zone
Hard life, Im living the hard life
Im gonna take a chance
In the danger zone
Lonely, ever so lonely
Im gonna live or die
In the danger zone4
Midnight, cant wait until midnight
Help e Im falling to the danger zone

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I Need You Now

My friend, I need you now
Please take me by the hands
Stand by me in my hours of need
Take time to understand

Take my hand, dear friend
And lead me fron this place
Chase away my doubts and fears
Wipe the tears from off my face

friend, I can't stand alone
I need you hands to hold
The warmth of your gently touch
In my world that grown so cold

Please be a friend to me
and hold be day to day
Because with your loving hands in mine
I know we'll find the way.

carlisa smith

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Today I sat…

Today I sat
By a quiet lake
Listening to the water lap upon the shore
I let my mind wander on lands and things yet to explore

Today I sat
Sheltered by an ancient pine
Bent and cracked by a long forgotten storm
I closed my eyes and let my spirit transform

Today I sat
On an old stone wall
Watching the birds fly by
And I did and thought nothing at all

Today I sat
And watched the children at play
Carefree and happy no worries around
No better way to spend the day

Today I sat
And watched the flowers grow
Their quiet struggle to survive
Made my heart glow

Today I sat…

© JPM 7/2/08

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Horses Makes You Happy

When your day seems out of balance
and so many things go wrong.
When people fight around you,
And the day drags on so long...

When parents act like children
And you think they will get a divorce
Go to the field
And hug your horse

Your horse calms you down
Makes you feel more happier
The gentle breath
With one little tear
Dragging from your face

When you look at him
Look at his eyes
He will be happy
You will a have a big surprise! ! !

His head rests on your shoulder
you groomed him good and tight
He puts your world in balance
and makes it seem all right.

Your tears will soon stop flowing,
The sadness is now ended.
The garbage has been lifted
you’ll be quiet and at peace.

So when you need the balance
go to your horse each day
The best happiness you can seek
is out there chomping on hay!

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Nothing is Impossible

N othing is Impossible where heart
O pens out to heart when, far apart,
T wo minds touch tendrils, tender feelings flow
H ope effervesces, empathy may glow
I n scope communicating common start,
N ew adventure no known maps may chart.
G reat expectations may be met, and so
I f screens can disappear, fresh breezes blow
S omething precious shall the applecart
I nside upset. Simplicity, not art,
M ay then emotions foster, help to grow.
P erhaps the role ‘chance’ plays in life, may show
O bstacles to be the counterpart
S ecret of opportunities in part
S et back from sight, from what the mind needs know.
I nsight alone lets light from darkness sow
B etween the life-lines seeds love can impart.
L et twinned souls travel to those realms Descartes
E ncountered not through ‘logic pure’... Think Heart!


29 August 1996 revision date uncertain before 2000
robi03_0823_robi03_0000 AXX_LXX

for previous version see below


Nothing is Impossible!

Life offers opportunities to rise
Above the hum and drum of everyday,
Discarding empty arguments to play
A role that true intelligence supplies.
Know by intelligence one means the cries
Only the heart can feel and share, display
Loves echo in a magic interplay,
And new tomorrows free from former ties.
Remember as you read these lines that skies
Of blue will chase all worries, cares, away,
Vanquishing uncertainties, dark, grey.
At last through hope for scope see new dawn rise!
Let light and laughter link, from false fears free,
Know nothing is impossible for thee!

22 August 1996

acrostic Poem © Jonathan Robin – Nothing is Impossible

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Amy Lowell

The Forsaken

Holy Mother of God, Merciful Mary. Hear me! I am very weary. I have come
from a village miles away, all day I have been coming, and I ache for such
far roaming. I cannot walk as light as I used, and my thoughts grow confused.
I am heavier than I was. Mary Mother, you know the cause!


Beautiful Holy Lady, take my shame away from me! Let this fear
be only seeming, let it be that I am dreaming. For months I have hoped
it was so, now I am afraid I know. Lady, why should this be shame,
just because I haven't got his name. He loved me, yes, Lady, he did,
and he couldn't keep it hid. We meant to marry. Why did he die?


That day when they told me he had gone down in the avalanche, and could not
be found until the snow melted in Spring, I did nothing. I could not cry.
Why should he die? Why should he die and his child live? His little child
alive in me, for my comfort. No, Good God, for my misery! I cannot face
the shame, to be a mother, and not married, and the poor child to be reviled
for having no father. Merciful Mother, Holy Virgin, take away this sin I did.
Let the baby not be. Only take the stigma off of me!


I have told no one but you, Holy Mary. My mother would call me 'whore',
and spit upon me; the priest would have me repent, and have
the rest of my life spent in a convent. I am no whore, no bad woman,
he loved me, and we were to be married. I carried him always in my heart,
what did it matter if I gave him the least part of me too? You were a virgin,
Holy Mother, but you had a son, you know there are times when a woman
must give all. There is some call to give and hold back nothing.
I swear I obeyed God then, and this child who lives in me is the sign.
What am I saying? He is dead, my beautiful, strong man! I shall never
feel him caress me again. This is the only baby I shall have.
Oh, Holy Virgin, protect my baby! My little, helpless baby!


He will look like his father, and he will be as fast a runner and as good
a shot. Not that he shall be no scholar neither. He shall go to school
in winter, and learn to read and write, and my father will teach him to carve,
so that he can make the little horses, and cows, and chamois,
out of white wood. Oh, No! No! No! How can I think such things,
I am not good. My father will have nothing to do with my boy,
I shall be an outcast thing. Oh, Mother of our Lord God, be merciful,
take away my shame! Let my body be as it was before he came.
No little baby for me to keep underneath my heart for those long months.
To live for and to get comfort from. I cannot go home and tell my mother.
She is so hard and righteous. She never loved my father, and we were born
for duty, not for love. I cannot face it. Holy Mother, take my baby away!
Take away my little baby! I don't want it, I can't bear it!


And I shall have nothing, nothing! Just be known as a good girl.
Have other men want to marry me, whom I could not touch, after having known
my man. Known the length and breadth of his beautiful white body,
and the depth of his love, on the high Summer Alp, with the moon above,
and the pine-needles all shiny in the light of it. He is gone, my man,
I shall never hear him or feel him again, but I could not touch another.
I would rather lie under the snow with my own man in my arms!


So I shall live on and on. Just a good woman. With nothing to warm my heart
where he lay, and where he left his baby for me to care for. I shall not be
quite human, I think. Merely a stone-dead creature. They will respect me.
What do I care for respect! You didn't care for people's tongues
when you were carrying our Lord Jesus. God had my man give me my baby,
when He knew that He was going to take him away. His lips will comfort me,
his hands will soothe me. All day I will work at my lace-making,
and all night I will keep him warm by my side and pray the blessed Angels
to cover him with their wings. Dear Mother, what is it that sings?
I hear voices singing, and lovely silver trumpets through it all. They seem
just on the other side of the wall. Let me keep my baby, Holy Mother.
He is only a poor lace-maker's baby, with a stain upon him,
but give me strength to bring him up to be a man.

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Think it over

Time to think it all over
Dear friend
Resituate, delegate
Inorder to start afresh
once again
Reaffirm what it really takes
To make all matter regulate
Reorganizing, is not to hesitate
Just utilizing proper timing
To assist all concerning
By Encouraging to cooperate
To lead is the
Opportunity, to demonstate
Think it over

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Life-death border

Raining raining and raining
Everywhere there is forest
There is mountain and rain and rain
Forest is full of trees
Mountains and mountains full of
Stones trees and stones stones
Here is a stream here there is water
And it is the border we must cross
Lion and lion tiger and tiger
Here there is a river come and
Come till completion of over
Over of time age birth death
Come my dear friend we are all
Here to make merry to get pleasure
And to cross life death border.

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Book First [Introduction-Childhood and School Time]

OH there is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.
What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale
Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove
Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream
Shall with its murmur lull me into rest?
The earth is all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again!
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind
Come fast upon me: it is shaken off,
That burthen of my own unnatural self,
The heavy weight of many a weary day
Not mine, and such as were not made for me.
Long months of peace (if such bold word accord
With any promises of human life),
Long months of ease and undisturbed delight
Are mine in prospect; whither shall I turn,
By road or pathway, or through trackless field,
Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing
Upon the river point me out my course?

Dear Liberty! Yet what would it avail
But for a gift that consecrates the joy?
For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven
Was blowing on my body, felt within
A correspondent breeze, that gently moved
With quickening virtue, but is now become
A tempest, a redundant energy,
Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both,
And their congenial powers, that, while they join
In breaking up a long-continued frost,
Bring with them vernal promises, the hope
Of active days urged on by flying hours,--
Days of sweet leisure, taxed with patient thought
Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high,
Matins and vespers of harmonious verse!

Thus far, O Friend! did I, not used to make
A present joy the matter of a song,
Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains
That would not be forgotten, and are here
Recorded: to the open fields I told
A prophecy: poetic numbers came
Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe
A renovated spirit singled out,
Such hope was mine, for holy services.
My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's
Internal echo of the imperfect sound;
To both I listened, drawing from them both
A cheerful confidence in things to come.

Content and not unwilling now to give
A respite to this passion, I paced on
With brisk and eager steps; and came, at length,
To a green shady place, where down I sate
Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice
And settling into gentler happiness.
'Twas autumn, and a clear and placid day,
With warmth, as much as needed, from a sun
Two hours declined towards the west; a day
With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass,
And in the sheltered and the sheltering grove
A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts
Encouraged and dismissed, till choice was made
Of a known Vale, whither my feet should turn,
Nor rest till they had reached the very door
Of the one cottage which methought I saw.
No picture of mere memory ever looked
So fair; and while upon the fancied scene
I gazed with growing love, a higher power
Than Fancy gave assurance of some work
Of glory there forthwith to be begun,
Perhaps too there performed. Thus long I mused,
Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon,
Save when, amid the stately grove of oaks,
Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup
Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once
To the bare earth dropped with a startling sound.
From that soft couch I rose not, till the sun
Had almost touched the horizon; casting then
A backward glance upon the curling cloud
Of city smoke, by distance ruralised;
Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive,
But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took,
Even with the chance equipment of that hour,
The road that pointed toward the chosen Vale.
It was a splendid evening, and my soul
Once more made trial of her strength, nor lacked
Aeolian visitations; but the harp
Was soon defrauded, and the banded host
Of harmony dispersed in straggling sounds,
And lastly utter silence! 'Be it so;
Why think of anything but present good?'
So, like a home-bound labourer, I pursued
My way beneath the mellowing sun, that shed
Mild influence; nor left in me one wish
Again to bend the Sabbath of that time
To a servile yoke. What need of many words?
A pleasant loitering journey, through three days
Continued, brought me to my hermitage.
I spare to tell of what ensued, the life
In common things--the endless store of things,
Rare, or at least so seeming, every day
Found all about me in one neighbourhood--
The self-congratulation, and, from morn
To night, unbroken cheerfulness serene.
But speedily an earnest longing rose
To brace myself to some determined aim,
Reading or thinking; either to lay up
New stores, or rescue from decay the old
By timely interference: and therewith
Came hopes still higher, that with outward life
I might endue some airy phantasies
That had been floating loose about for years,
And to such beings temperately deal forth
The many feelings that oppressed my heart.
That hope hath been discouraged; welcome light
Dawns from the east, but dawns to disappear
And mock me with a sky that ripens not
Into a steady morning: if my mind,
Remembering the bold promise of the past,
Would gladly grapple with some noble theme,
Vain is her wish; where'er she turns she finds
Impediments from day to day renewed.

And now it would content me to yield up
Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts
Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend!
The Poet, gentle creature as he is,
Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times;
His fits when he is neither sick nor well,
Though no distress be near him but his own
Unmanageable thoughts: his mind, best pleased
While she as duteous as the mother dove
Sits brooding, lives not always to that end,
But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on
That drive her as in trouble through the groves;
With me is now such passion, to be blamed
No otherwise than as it lasts too long.

When, as becomes a man who would prepare
For such an arduous work, I through myself
Make rigorous inquisition, the report
Is often cheering; for I neither seem
To lack that first great gift, the vital soul,
Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sort
Of Elements and Agents, Under-powers,
Subordinate helpers of the living mind:
Nor am I naked of external things,
Forms, images, nor numerous other aids
Of less regard, though won perhaps with toil
And needful to build up a Poet's praise.
Time, place, and manners do I seek, and these
Are found in plenteous store, but nowhere such
As may be singled out with steady choice;
No little band of yet remembered names
Whom I, in perfect confidence, might hope
To summon back from lonesome banishment,
And make them dwellers in the hearts of men
Now living, or to live in future years.
Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking
Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea,
Will settle on some British theme, some old
Romantic tale by Milton left unsung;
More often turning to some gentle place
Within the groves of Chivalry, I pipe
To shepherd swains, or seated harp in hand,
Amid reposing knights by a river side
Or fountain, listen to the grave reports
Of dire enchantments faced and overcome
By the strong mind, and tales of warlike feats,
Where spear encountered spear, and sword with sword
Fought, as if conscious of the blazonry
That the shield bore, so glorious was the strife;
Whence inspiration for a song that winds
Through ever-changing scenes of votive quest
Wrongs to redress, harmonious tribute paid
To patient courage and unblemished truth,
To firm devotion, zeal unquenchable,
And Christian meekness hallowing faithful loves.
Sometimes, more sternly moved, I would relate
How vanquished Mithridates northward passed,
And, hidden in the cloud of years, became
Odin, the Father of a race by whom
Perished the Roman Empire: how the friends
And followers of Sertorius, out of Spain
Flying, found shelter in the Fortunate Isles,
And left their usages, their arts and laws,
To disappear by a slow gradual death,
To dwindle and to perish one by one,
Starved in those narrow bounds: but not the soul
Of Liberty, which fifteen hundred years
Survived, and, when the European came
With skill and power that might not be withstood,
Did, like a pestilence, maintain its hold
And wasted down by glorious death that race
Of natural heroes: or I would record
How, in tyrannic times, some high-souled man,
Unnamed among the chronicles of kings,
Suffered in silence for Truth's sake: or tell,
How that one Frenchman, through continued force
Of meditation on the inhuman deeds
Of those who conquered first the Indian Isles,
Went single in his ministry across
The Ocean; not to comfort the oppressed,
But, like a thirsty wind, to roam about
Withering the Oppressor: how Gustavus sought
Help at his need in Dalecarlia's mines:
How Wallace fought for Scotland; left the name
Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower,
All over his dear Country; left the deeds
Of Wallace, like a family of Ghosts,
To people the steep rocks and river banks,
Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul
Of independence and stern liberty.
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts;
Some variegated story, in the main
Lofty, but the unsubstantial structure melts
Before the very sun that brightens it,
Mist into air dissolving! Then a wish,
My last and favourite aspiration, mounts
With yearning toward some philosophic song
Of Truth that cherishes our daily life;
With meditations passionate from deep
Recesses in man's heart, immortal verse
Thoughtfully fitted to the Orphean lyre;
But from this awful burthen I full soon
Take refuge and beguile myself with trust
That mellower years will bring a riper mind
And clearer insight. Thus my days are past
In contradiction; with no skill to part
Vague longing, haply bred by want of power,
From paramount impulse not to be withstood,
A timorous capacity, from prudence,
From circumspection, infinite delay.
Humility and modest awe, themselves
Betray me, serving often for a cloak
To a more subtle selfishness; that now
Locks every function up in blank reserve,
Now dupes me, trusting to an anxious eye
That with intrusive restlessness beats off
Simplicity and self-presented truth.
Ah! better far than this, to stray about
Voluptuously through fields and rural walks,
And ask no record of the hours, resigned
To vacant musing, unreproved neglect
Of all things, and deliberate holiday.
Far better never to have heard the name
Of zeal and just ambition, than to live
Baffled and plagued by a mind that every hour
Turns recreant to her task; takes heart again,
Then feels immediately some hollow thought
Hang like an interdict upon her hopes.
This is my lot; for either still I find
Some imperfection in the chosen theme,
Or see of absolute accomplishment
Much wanting, so much wanting, in myself,
That I recoil and droop, and seek repose
In listlessness from vain perplexity,
Unprofitably travelling toward the grave,
Like a false steward who hath much received
And renders nothing back.
Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved
To blend his murmurs with my nurse's song,
And, from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flowed along my dreams? For this, didst thou,
O Derwent! winding among grassy holms
Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,
Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts
To more than infant softness, giving me
Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind
A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.

When he had left the mountains and received
On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers
That yet survive, a shattered monument
Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed
Along the margin of our terrace walk;
A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved.
Oh, many a time have I, a five years' child,
In a small mill-race severed from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer's day;
Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again
Alternate, all a summer's day, or scoured
The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves
Of yellow ragwort; or, when rock and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height,
Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian plains, and from my mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport
A naked savage, in the thunder shower.

Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up
Fostered alike by beauty and by fear:
Much favoured in my birth-place, and no less
In that beloved Vale to which erelong
We were transplanted;--there were we let loose
For sports of wider range. Ere I had told
Ten birth-days, when among the mountain slopes
Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped
The last autumnal crocus, 'twas my joy
With store of springes o'er my shoulder hung
To range the open heights where woodcocks run
Along the smooth green turf. Through half the night,
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied
That anxious visitation;--moon and stars
Were shining o'er my head. I was alone,
And seemed to be a trouble to the peace
That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befell
In these night wanderings, that a strong desire
O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird
Which was the captive of another's toil
Became my prey; and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills
Low breathings coming after me, and sounds
Of undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

Nor less, when spring had warmed the cultured Vale,
Moved we as plunderers where the mother-bird
Had in high places built her lodge; though mean
Our object and inglorious, yet the end
Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung
Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass
And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock
But ill sustained, and almost (so it seemed)
Suspended by the blast that blew amain,
Shouldering the naked crag, oh, at that time
While on the perilous ridge I hung alone,
With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind
Blow through my ear! the sky seemed not a sky
Of earth--and with what motion moved the clouds!

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society. How strange, that all
The terrors, pains, and early miseries,
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused
Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part,
And that a needful part, in making up
The calm existence that is mine when I
Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end!
Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ;
Whether her fearless visitings, or those
That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light
Opening the peaceful clouds; or she would use
Severer interventions, ministry
More palpable, as best might suit her aim.

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cave, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my bark,--
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought
That givest to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion, not in vain
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things--
With life and nature--purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me
With stinted kindness. In November days,
When vapours rolling down the valley made
A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods,
At noon and 'mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine;
Mine was it in the fields both day and night,
And by the waters, all the summer long.

And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twilight gloom,
I heeded not their summons: happy time
It was indeed for all of us--for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six,--I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel,
We hissed along the polished ice in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase
And woodland pleasures,--the resounding horn,
The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle; with the din
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while far distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars
Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.
Not seldom from the uproar I retired
Into a silent bay, or sportively
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
To cut across the reflex of a star
That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed
Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes,
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me--even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round!
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep.

Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills!
And Souls of lonely places! can I think
A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed
Such ministry, when ye, through many a year
Haunting me thus among my boyish sports,
On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills,
Impressed, upon all forms, the characters
Of danger or desire; and thus did make
The surface of the universal earth,
With triumph and delight, with hope and fear,
Work like a sea?
Not uselessly employed,
Might I pursue this theme through every change
Of exercise and play, to which the year
Did summon us in his delightful round.

We were a noisy crew; the sun in heaven
Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours;
Nor saw a band in happiness and joy
Richer, or worthier of the ground they trod.
I could record with no reluctant voice
The woods of autumn, and their hazel bowers
With milk-white clusters hung; the rod and line,
True symbol of hope's foolishness, whose strong
And unreproved enchantment led us on
By rocks and pools shut out from every star,
All the green summer, to forlorn cascades
Among the windings hid of mountain brooks.
--Unfading recollections! at this hour
The heart is almost mine with which I felt,
From some hill-top on sunny afternoons,
The paper kite high among fleecy clouds
Pull at her rein like an impetuous courser;
Or, from the meadows sent on gusty days,
Beheld her breast the wind, then suddenly
Dashed headlong, and rejected by the storm.

Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt,
A ministration of your own was yours;
Can I forget you, being as you were
So beautiful among the pleasant fields
In which ye stood? or can I here forget
The plain and seemly countenance with which
Ye dealt out your plain comforts? Yet had ye
Delights and exultations of your own.
Eager and never weary we pursued
Our home-amusements by the warm peat-fire
At evening, when with pencil, and smooth slate
In square divisions parcelled out and all
With crosses and with cyphers scribbled o'er,
We schemed and puzzled, head opposed to head
In strife too humble to be named in verse:
Or round the naked table, snow-white deal,
Cherry or maple, sate in close array,
And to the combat, Loo or Whist, led on
A thick-ribbed army; not, as in the world,
Neglected and ungratefully thrown by
Even for the very service they had wrought,
But husbanded through many a long campaign.
Uncouth assemblage was it, where no few
Had changed their functions: some, plebeian cards
Which Fate, beyond the promise of their birth,
Had dignified, and called to represent
The persons of departed potentates.
Oh, with what echoes on the board they fell!
Ironic diamonds,--clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades,
A congregation piteously akin!
Cheap matter offered they to boyish wit,
Those sooty knaves, precipitated down
With scoffs and taunts, like Vulcan out of heaven:
The paramount ace, a moon in her eclipse,
Queens gleaming through their splendour's last decay,
And monarchs surly at the wrongs sustained
By royal visages. Meanwhile abroad
Incessant rain was falling, or the frost
Raged bitterly, with keen and silent tooth;
And, interrupting oft that eager game,
From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice
The pent-up air, struggling to free itself,
Gave out to meadow grounds and hills a loud
Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves
Howling in troops along the Bothnic Main.

Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace
How Nature by extrinsic passion first
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,
And made me love them, may I here omit
How other pleasures have been mine, and joys
Of subtler origin; how I have felt,
Not seldom even in that tempestuous time,
Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense
Which seem, in their simplicity, to own
An intellectual charm; that calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union between life and joy.

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth,
And twice five summers on my mind had stamped
The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain
Of waters coloured by impending clouds.

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade,
And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills
Sent welcome notice of the rising moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these
A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense
Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league
Of shining water, gathering as it seemed,
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light,
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits
Are prompt attendants, 'mid that giddy bliss
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood
And is forgotten; even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true,
By chance collisions and quaint accidents
(Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed
Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain
Nor profitless, if haply they impressed
Collateral objects and appearances,
Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep
Until maturer seasons called them forth
To impregnate and to elevate the mind.
--And if the vulgar joy by its own weight
Wearied itself out of the memory,
The scenes which were a witness of that joy
Remained in their substantial lineaments
Depicted on the brain, and to the eye
Were visible, a daily sight; and thus
By the impressive discipline of fear,
By pleasure and repeated happiness,
So frequently repeated, and by force
Of obscure feelings representative
Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright,
So beautiful, so majestic in themselves,
Though yet the day was distant, did become
Habitually dear, and all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.
I began
My story early--not misled, I trust,
By an infirmity of love for days
Disowned by memory--ere the breath of spring
Planting my snowdrops among winter snows:
Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend! so prompt
In sympathy, that I have lengthened out
With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale.
Meanwhile, my hope has been, that I might fetch
Invigorating thoughts from former years;
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature
To honourable toil. Yet should these hopes
Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught
To understand myself, nor thou to know
With better knowledge how the heart was framed
Of him thou lovest; need I dread from thee
Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit
Those recollected hours that have the charm
Of visionary things, those lovely forms
And sweet sensations that throw back our life,
And almost make remotest infancy
A visible scene, on which the sun is shining?

One end at least hath been attained; my mind
Hath been revived, and if this genial mood
Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down
Through later years the story of my life.
The road lies plain before me;--'tis a theme
Single and of determined bounds; and hence
I choose it rather at this time, than work
Of ampler or more varied argument,
Where I might be discomfited and lost:
And certain hopes are with me, that to thee
This labour will be welcome, honoured Friend!

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The Prelude, Book 2: School-time (Continued)

. Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace
My life through its first years, and measured back
The way I travell'd when I first began
To love the woods and fields; the passion yet
Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befal,
By nourishment that came unsought, for still,
From week to week, from month to month, we liv'd
A round of tumult: duly were our games
Prolong'd in summer till the day-light fail'd;
No chair remain'd before the doors, the bench
And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
The Labourer, and the old Man who had sate,
A later lingerer, yet the revelry
Continued, and the loud uproar: at last,
When all the ground was dark, and the huge clouds
Were edged with twinkling stars, to bed we went,
With weary joints, and with a beating mind.
Ah! is there one who ever has been young,
Nor needs a monitory voice to tame
The pride of virtue, and of intellect?
And is there one, the wisest and the best
Of all mankind, who does not sometimes wish
For things which cannot be, who would not give,
If so he might, to duty and to truth
The eagerness of infantine desire?
A tranquillizing spirit presses now
On my corporeal frame: so wide appears
The vacancy between me and those days,
Which yet have such self-presence in my mind
That, sometimes, when I think of them, I seem
Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself
And of some other Being. A grey Stone
Of native rock, left midway in the Square
Of our small market Village, was the home
And centre of these joys, and when, return'd
After long absence, thither I repair'd,
I found that it was split, and gone to build
A smart Assembly-room that perk'd and flar'd
With wash and rough-cast elbowing the ground
Which had been ours. But let the fiddle scream,
And be ye happy! yet, my Friends! I know
That more than one of you will think with me
Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
From whom the stone was nam'd who there had sate
And watch'd her Table with its huckster's wares
Assiduous, thro' the length of sixty years.

We ran a boisterous race; the year span round
With giddy motion. But the time approach'd
That brought with it a regular desire
For calmer pleasures, when the beauteous forms
Of Nature were collaterally attach'd
To every scheme of holiday delight,
And every boyish sport, less grateful else,
And languidly pursued. When summer came
It was the pastime of our afternoons
To beat along the plain of Windermere
With rival oars, and the selected bourne
Was now an Island musical with birds
That sang for ever; now a Sister Isle
Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown
With lillies of the valley, like a field;
And now a third small Island where remain'd
An old stone Table, and a moulder'd Cave,
A Hermit's history. In such a race,
So ended, disappointment could be none,
Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy:
We rested in the shade, all pleas'd alike,
Conquer'd and Conqueror. Thus the pride of strength,
And the vain-glory of superior skill
Were interfus'd with objects which subdu'd
And temper'd them, and gradually produc'd
A quiet independence of the heart.
And to my Friend, who knows me, I may add,
Unapprehensive of reproof, that hence
Ensu'd a diffidence and modesty,
And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much,
The self-sufficing power of solitude.

No delicate viands sapp'd our bodily strength;
More than we wish'd we knew the blessing then
Of vigorous hunger, for our daily meals
Were frugal, Sabine fare! and then, exclude
A little weekly stipend, and we lived
Through three divisions of the quarter'd year
In pennyless poverty. But now, to School
Return'd, from the half-yearly holidays,
We came with purses more profusely fill'd,
Allowance which abundantly suffic'd
To gratify the palate with repasts
More costly than the Dame of whom I spake,
That ancient Woman, and her board supplied.
Hence inroads into distant Vales, and long
Excursions far away among the hills,
Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground,
Or in the woods, or near a river side,
Or by some shady fountain, while soft airs
Among the leaves were stirring, and the sun
Unfelt, shone sweetly round us in our joy.

Nor is my aim neglected, if I tell
How twice in the long length of those half-years
We from our funds, perhaps, with bolder hand
Drew largely, anxious for one day, at least,
To feel the motion of the galloping Steed;
And with the good old Inn-keeper, in truth,
On such occasion sometimes we employ'd
Sly subterfuge; for the intended bound
Of the day's journey was too distant far
For any cautious man, a Structure famed
Beyond its neighbourhood, the antique Walls
Of that large Abbey which within the vale
Of Nightshade, to St. Mary's honour built,
Stands yet, a mouldering Pile, with fractured Arch,
Belfry, and Images, and living Trees,
A holy Scene! along the smooth green turf
Our Horses grazed: to more than inland peace
Left by the sea wind passing overhead
(Though wind of roughest temper) trees and towers
May in that Valley oftentimes be seen,
Both silent and both motionless alike;
Such is the shelter that is there, and such
The safeguard for repose and quietness.


Our steeds remounted, and the summons given,
With whip and spur we by the Chauntry flew
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legg'd Knight,
And the stone-Abbot, and that single Wren
Which one day sang so sweetly in the Nave
Of the old Church, that, though from recent showers
The earth was comfortless, and, touch'd by faint
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place,
And respirations, from the roofless walls
The shuddering ivy dripp'd large drops, yet still,
So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible Bird
Sang to itself, that there I could have made
My dwelling-place, and liv'd for ever there
To hear such music. Through the Walls we flew
And down the valley, and a circuit made
In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth
We scamper'd homeward. Oh! ye Rocks and Streams,
And that still Spirit of the evening air!
Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt
Your presence, when with slacken'd step we breath'd
Along the sides of the steep hills, or when,
Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea,
We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand.


Upon the Eastern Shore of Windermere,
Above the crescent of a pleasant Bay,
There stood an Inn, no homely-featured Shed,
Brother of the surrounding Cottages,
But 'twas a splendid place, the door beset
With Chaises, Grooms, and Liveries, and within
Decanters, Glasses, and the blood-red Wine.
In ancient times, or ere the Hall was built
On the large Island, had this Dwelling been
More worthy of a Poet's love, a Hut,
Proud of its one bright fire, and sycamore shade.
But though the rhymes were gone which once inscribed
The threshold, and large golden characters
On the blue-frosted Signboard had usurp'd
The place of the old Lion, in contempt
And mockery of the rustic painter's hand,
Yet to this hour the spot to me is dear
With all its foolish pomp. The garden lay
Upon a slope surmounted by the plain
Of a small Bowling-green; beneath us stood
A grove; with gleams of water through the trees
And over the tree-tops; nor did we want
Refreshment, strawberries and mellow cream.
And there, through half an afternoon, we play'd
On the smooth platform, and the shouts we sent
Made all the mountains ring. But ere the fall
Of night, when in our pinnace we return'd
Over the dusky Lake, and to the beach
Of some small Island steer'd our course with one,
The Minstrel of our troop, and left him there,
And row'd off gently, while he blew his flute
Alone upon the rock; Oh! then the calm
And dead still water lay upon my mind
Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky
Never before so beautiful, sank down
Into my heart, and held me like a dream.


Thus daily were my sympathies enlarged,
And thus the common range of visible things
Grew dear to me: already I began
To love the sun, a Boy I lov'd the sun,
Not as I since have lov'd him, as a pledge
And surety of our earthly life, a light
Which while we view we feel we are alive;
But, for this cause, that I had seen him lay
His beauty on the morning hills, had seen
The western mountain touch his setting orb,
In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess
Of happiness, my blood appear'd to flow
With its own pleasure, and I breath'd with joy.
And from like feelings, humble though intense,
To patriotic and domestic love
Analogous, the moon to me was dear;
For I would dream away my purposes,
Standing to look upon her while she hung
Midway between the hills, as if she knew
No other region; but belong'd to thee,
Yea, appertain'd by a peculiar right
To thee and thy grey huts, my darling Vale!


Those incidental charms which first attach'd
My heart to rural objects, day by day
Grew weaker, and I hasten on to tell
How Nature, intervenient till this time,
And secondary, now at length was sought
For her own sake. But who shall parcel out
His intellect, by geometric rules,
Split, like a province, into round and square?
Who knows the individual hour in which
His habits were first sown, even as a seed,
Who that shall point, as with a wand, and say,
'This portion of the river of my mind
Came from yon fountain?' Thou, my Friend! art one
More deeply read in thy own thoughts; to thee
Science appears but, what in truth she is,
Not as our glory and our absolute boast,
But as a succedaneum, and a prop
To our infirmity. Thou art no slave
Of that false secondary power, by which,
In weakness, we create distinctions, then
Deem that our puny boundaries are things
Which we perceive, and not which we have made.
To thee, unblinded by these outward shows,
The unity of all has been reveal'd
And thou wilt doubt with me, less aptly skill'd
Than many are to class the cabinet
Of their sensations, and, in voluble phrase,
Run through the history and birth of each,
As of a single independent thing.
Hard task to analyse a soul, in which,
Not only general habits and desires,
But each most obvious and particular thought,
Not in a mystical and idle sense,
But in the words of reason deeply weigh'd,
Hath no beginning. Bless'd the infant Babe,
(For with my best conjectures I would trace
The progress of our Being) blest the Babe,
Nurs'd in his Mother's arms, the Babe who sleeps
Upon his Mother's breast, who, when his soul
Claims manifest kindred with an earthly soul,
Doth gather passion from his Mother's eye!
Such feelings pass into his torpid life
Like an awakening breeze, and hence his mind
Even [in the first trial of its powers]
Is prompt and watchful, eager to combine
In one appearance, all the elements
And parts of the same object, else detach'd
And loth to coalesce. Thus, day by day,
Subjected to the discipline of love,
His organs and recipient faculties
Are quicken'd, are more vigorous, his mind spreads,
Tenacious of the forms which it receives.
In one beloved presence, nay and more,
In that most apprehensive habitude
And those sensations which have been deriv'd
From this beloved Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
All objects through all intercourse of sense.
No outcast he, bewilder'd and depress'd;
Along his infant veins are interfus'd
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature, that connect him with the world.
Emphatically such a Being lives,
An inmate of this active universe;
From nature largely he receives; nor so
Is satisfied, but largely gives again,
For feeling has to him imparted strength,
And powerful in all sentiments of grief,
Of exultation, fear, and joy, his mind,
Even as an agent of the one great mind,
Creates, creator and receiver both,
Working but in alliance with the works
Which it beholds.--Such, verily, is the first
Poetic spirit of our human life;
By uniform control of after years
In most abated or suppress'd, in some,
Through every change of growth or of decay,
Pre-eminent till death. From early days,
Beginning not long after that first time
In which, a Babe, by intercourse of touch,
I held mute dialogues with my Mother's heart
I have endeavour'd to display the means
Whereby this infant sensibility,
Great birthright of our Being, was in me
Augmented and sustain'd. Yet is a path
More difficult before me, and I fear
That in its broken windings we shall need
The chamois' sinews, and the eagle's wing:
For now a trouble came into my mind
From unknown causes. I was left alone,
Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why.
The props of my affections were remov'd,
And yet the building stood, as if sustain'd
By its own spirit! All that I beheld
Was dear to me, and from this cause it came,
That now to Nature's finer influxes
My mind lay open, to that more exact
And intimate communion which our hearts
Maintain with the minuter properties
Of objects which already are belov'd,
And of those only. Many are the joys
Of youth; but oh! what happiness to live
When every hour brings palpable access
Of knowledge, when all knowledge is delight,
And sorrow is not there. The seasons came,
And every season to my notice brought
A store of transitory qualities
Which, but for this most watchful power of love
Had been neglected, left a register
Of permanent relations, else unknown,
Hence life, and change, and beauty, solitude
More active, even, than 'best society',
Society made sweet as solitude
By silent inobtrusive sympathies,
And gentle agitations of the mind
From manifold distinctions, difference
Perceived in things, where to the common eye,
No difference is; and hence, from the same source
Sublimer joy; for I would walk alone,
In storm and tempest, or in starlight nights
Beneath the quiet Heavens; and, at that time,
Have felt whate'er there is of power in sound
To breathe an elevated mood, by form
Or image unprofaned; and I would stand,
Beneath some rock, listening to sounds that are
The ghostly language of the ancient earth,
Or make their dim abode in distant winds.
Thence did I drink the visionary power.
I deem not profitless those fleeting moods
Of shadowy exultation: not for this,
That they are kindred to our purer mind
And intellectual life; but that the soul,
Remembering how she felt, but what she felt
Remembering not, retains an obscure sense
Of possible sublimity, to which,
With growing faculties she doth aspire,
With faculties still growing, feeling still
That whatsoever point they gain, they still
Have something to pursue. And not alone,
In grandeur and in tumult, but no less
In tranquil scenes, that universal power
And fitness in the latent qualities
And essences of things, by which the mind
Is mov'd by feelings of delight, to me
Came strengthen'd with a superadded soul,
A virtue not its own. My morning walks
Were early; oft, before the hours of School
I travell'd round our little Lake, five miles
Of pleasant wandering, happy time! more dear
For this, that one was by my side, a Friend
Then passionately lov'd; with heart how full
Will he peruse these lines, this page, perhaps
A blank to other men! for many years
Have since flow'd in between us; and our minds,
Both silent to each other, at this time
We live as if those hours had never been.
Nor seldom did I lift our cottage latch
Far earlier, and before the vernal thrush
Was audible, among the hills I sate
Alone, upon some jutting eminence
At the first hour of morning, when the Vale
Lay quiet in an utter solitude.
How shall I trace the history, where seek
The origin of what I then have felt?
Oft in these moments such a holy calm
Did overspread my soul, that I forgot
That I had bodily eyes, and what I saw
Appear'd like something in myself, a dream,
A prospect in my mind. 'Twere long to tell
What spring and autumn, what the winter snows,
And what the summer shade, what day and night,
The evening and the morning, what my dreams
And what my waking thoughts supplied, to nurse
That spirit of religious love in which
I walked with Nature. But let this, at least
Be not forgotten, that I still retain'd
My first creative sensibility,
That by the regular action of the world
My soul was unsubdu'd. A plastic power
Abode with me, a forming hand, at times
Rebellious, acting in a devious mood,
A local spirit of its own, at war
With general tendency, but for the most
Subservient strictly to the external things
With which it commun'd. An auxiliar light
Came from my mind which on the setting sun
Bestow'd new splendor, the melodious birds,
The gentle breezes, fountains that ran on,
Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obey'd
A like dominion; and the midnight storm
Grew darker in the presence of my eye.
Hence by obeisance, my devotion hence,
And hence my transport. Nor should this, perchance,
Pass unrecorded, that I still have lov'd
The exercise and produce of a toil
Than analytic industry to me
More pleasing, and whose character I deem
Is more poetic as resembling more
Creative agency. I mean to speak
Of that interminable building rear'd
By observation of affinities
In objects where no brotherhood exists
To common minds. My seventeenth year was come
And, whether from this habit, rooted now
So deeply in my mind, or from excess
Of the great social principle of life,
Coercing all things into sympathy,
To unorganic natures I transferr'd
My own enjoyments, or, the power of truth
Coming in revelation, I convers'd
With things that really are, I, at this time
Saw blessings spread around me like a sea.
Thus did my days pass on, and now at length
From Nature and her overflowing soul
I had receiv'd so much that all my thoughts
Were steep'd in feeling; I was only then
Contented when with bliss ineffable
I felt the sentiment of Being spread
O'er all that moves, and all that seemeth still,
O'er all, that, lost beyond the reach of thought
And human knowledge, to the human eye
Invisible, yet liveth to the heart,
O'er all that leaps, and runs, and shouts, and sings,
Or beats the gladsome air, o'er all that glides
Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself
And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not
If such my transports were; for in all things
I saw one life, and felt that it was joy.
One song they sang, and it was audible,
Most audible then when the fleshly ear,
O'ercome by grosser prelude of that strain,
Forgot its functions, and slept undisturb'd.


If this be error, and another faith
Find easier access to the pious mind,
Yet were I grossly destitute of all
Those human sentiments which make this earth
So dear, if I should fail, with grateful voice
To speak of you, Ye Mountains and Ye Lakes,
And sounding Cataracts! Ye Mists and Winds
That dwell among the hills where I was born.
If, in my youth, I have been pure in heart,
If, mingling with the world, I am content
With my own modest pleasures, and have liv'd,
With God and Nature communing, remov'd
From little enmities and low desires,
The gift is yours; if in these times of fear,
This melancholy waste of hopes o'erthrown,
If, 'mid indifference and apathy
And wicked exultation, when good men,
On every side fall off we know not how,
To selfishness, disguis'd in gentle names
Of peace, and quiet, and domestic love,
Yet mingled, not unwillingly, with sneers
On visionary minds; if in this time
Of dereliction and dismay, I yet
Despair not of our nature; but retain
A more than Roman confidence, a faith
That fails not, in all sorrow my support,
The blessing of my life, the gift is yours,
Ye mountains! thine, O Nature! Thou hast fed
My lofty speculations; and in thee,
For this uneasy heart of ours I find
A never-failing principle of joy,
And purest passion. Thou, my Friend! wert rear'd
In the great City, 'mid far other scenes;
But we, by different roads at length have gain'd
The self-same bourne. And for this cause to Thee
I speak, unapprehensive of contempt,
The insinuated scoff of coward tongues,
And all that silent language which so oft
In conversation betwixt man and man
Blots from the human countenance all trace
Of beauty and of love. For Thou hast sought
The truth in solitude, and Thou art one,
The most intense of Nature's worshippers
In many things my Brother, chiefly here
In this my deep devotion. Fare Thee well!
Health, and the quiet of a healthful mind
Attend thee! seeking oft the haunts of men,
And yet more often living with Thyself,
And for Thyself, so haply shall thy days
Be many, and a blessing to mankind.

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Michael: A Pastoral Poem

If from the public way you turn your steps
Up the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll,
You will suppose that with an upright path
Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent
The pastoral mountains front you, face to face.
But, courage! for around that boisterous brook
The mountains have all opened out themselves,
And made a hidden valley of their own.
No habitation can be seen; but they
Who journey thither find themselves alone
With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites
That overhead are sailing in the sky.
It is in truth an utter solitude;
Nor should I have made mention of this Dell
But for one object which you might pass by,
Might see and notice not. Beside the brook
Appears a straggling heap of unhewn stones!
And to that simple object appertains
A story--unenriched with strange events,
Yet not unfit, I deem, for the fireside,
Or for the summer shade. It was the first
Of those domestic tales that spake to me
Of shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men
Whom I already loved; not verily
For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills
Where was their occupation and abode.
And hence this Tale, while I was yet a Boy
Careless of books, yet having felt the power
Of Nature, by the gentle agency
Of natural objects, led me on to feel
For passions that were not my own, and think
(At random and imperfectly indeed)
On man, the heart of man, and human life.
Therefore, although it be a history
Homely and rude, I will relate the same
For the delight of a few natural hearts;
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake
Of youthful Poets, who among these hills
Will be my second self when I am gone.
UPON the forest-side in Grasmere Vale
There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name;
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen,
Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs,
And in his shepherd's calling he was prompt
And watchful more than ordinary men.
Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone; and, oftentimes,
When others heeded not, He heard the South
Make subterraneous music, like the noise
Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills.
The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock
Bethought him, and he to himself would say,
"The winds are now devising work for me!"
And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives
The traveller to a shelter, summoned him
Up to the mountains: he had been alone
Amid the heart of many thousand mists,
That came to him, and left him, on the heights.
So lived he till his eightieth year was past.
And grossly that man errs, who should suppose
That the green valleys, and the streams and rocks,
Were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts.
Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed
The common air; hills, which with vigorous step
He had so often climbed; which had impressed
So many incidents upon his mind
Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;
Which, like a book, preserved the memory
Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved,
Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts
The certainty of honourable gain;
Those fields, those hills--what could they less? had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
His days had not been passed in singleness.
His Helpmate was a comely matron, old--
Though younger than himself full twenty years.
She was a woman of a stirring life,
Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had
Of antique form; this large, for spinning wool;
That small, for flax; and if one wheel had rest
It was because the other was at work.
The Pair had but one inmate in their house,
An only Child, who had been born to them
When Michael, telling o'er his years, began
To deem that he was old,--in shepherd's phrase,
With one foot in the grave. This only Son,
With two brave sheep-dogs tried in many a storm,
The one of an inestimable worth,
Made all their household. I may truly say,
That they were as a proverb in the vale
For endless industry. When day was gone
And from their occupations out of doors
The Son and Father were come home, even then,
Their labour did not cease; unless when all
Turned to the cleanly supper-board, and there,
Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk, 0
Sat round the basket piled with oaten cakes,
And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when the meal
Was ended, Luke (for so the Son was named)
And his old Father both betook themselves
To such convenient work as might employ
Their hands by the fireside; perhaps to card
Wool for the Housewife's spindle, or repair
Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe,
Or other implement of house or field.
Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge,
That in our ancient uncouth country style
With huge and black projection overbrowed
Large space beneath, as duly as the light
Of day grew dim the Housewife hung a lamp;
An aged utensil, which had performed
Service beyond all others of its kind.
Early at evening did it burn--and late,
Surviving comrade of uncounted hours,
Which, going by from year to year, had found,
And left, the couple neither gay perhaps
Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes,
Living a life of eager industry.
And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth year,
There by the light of this old lamp they sate,
Father and Son, while far into the night
The Housewife plied her own peculiar work,
Making the cottage through the silent hours
Murmur as with the sound of summer flies.
This light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public symbol of the life
That thrifty Pair had lived. For, as it chanced,
Their cottage on a plot of rising ground
Stood single, with large prospect, north and south,
High into Easedale, up to Dunmail-Raise,
And westward to the village near the lake;
And from this constant light, so regular
And so far seen, the House itself, by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,
Both old and young, was named THE EVENING STAR.
Thus living on through such a length of years,
The Shepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his Helpmate; but to Michael's heart
This son of his old age was yet more dear--
Less from instinctive tenderness, the same
Fond spirit that blindly works in the blood of all--
Than that a child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
Exceeding was the love he bare to him,
His heart and his heart's joy! For oftentimes
Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female service, not alone
For pastime and delight, as is the use
Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced
To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
His cradle, as with a woman's gentle hand.
And, in a later time, ere yet the Boy
Had put on boy's attire, did Michael love,
Albeit of a stern unbending mind,
To have the Young-one in his sight, when he
Wrought in the field, or on his shepherd's stool
Sate with a fettered sheep before him stretched
Under the large old oak, that near his door
Stood single, and, from matchless depth of shade,
Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun,
Thence in our rustic dialect was called
The CLIPPING TREE, a name which yet it bears.
There, while they two were sitting in the shade,
With others round them, earnest all and blithe,
Would Michael exercise his heart with looks
Of fond correction and reproof bestowed
Upon the Child, if he disturbed the sheep
By catching at their legs, or with his shouts
Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears.
And when by Heaven's good grace the boy grew up
A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek
Two steady roses that were five years old;
Then Michael from a winter coppice cut
With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped
With iron, making it throughout in all
Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff,
And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipt
He as a watchman oftentimes was placed
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;
And, to his office prematurely called,
There stood the urchin, as you will divine,
Something between a hindrance and a help;
And for this cause not always, I believe,
Receiving from his Father hire of praise;
Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,
Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.
But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand
Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights,
Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways,
He with his Father daily went, and they
Were as companions, why should I relate
That objects which the Shepherd loved before
Were dearer now? that from the Boy there came 0
Feelings and emanations--things which were
Light to the sun and music to the wind;
And that the old Man's heart seemed born again?
Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew up:
And now, when he had reached his eighteenth year,
He was his comfort and his daily hope.
While in this sort the simple household lived
From day to day, to Michael's ear there came
Distressful tidings. Long before the time
Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound
In surety for his brother's son, a man
Of an industrious life, and ample means;
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly
Had prest upon him; and old Michael now
Was summoned to discharge the forfeiture,
A grievous penalty, but little less
Than half his substance. This unlooked-for claim,
At the first hearing, for a moment took
More hope out of his life than he supposed
That any old man ever could have lost.
As soon as he had armed himself with strength
To look his trouble in the face, it seemed
The Shepherd's sole resource to sell at once
A portion of his patrimonial fields.
Such was his first resolve; he thought again,
And his heart failed him. "Isabel," said he,
Two evenings after he had heard the news,
"I have been toiling more than seventy years,
And in the open sunshine of God's love
Have we all lived; yet if these fields of ours
Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think
That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I;
And I have lived to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not false,
There are ten thousand to whom loss like this
Had been no sorrow. I forgive him;--but
'Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.
When I began, my purpose was to speak
Of remedies and of a cheerful hope.
Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land
Shall not go from us, and it shall be free;
He shall possess it, free as is the wind
That passes over it. We have, thou know'st,
Another kinsman--he will be our friend
In this distress. He is a prosperous man,
Thriving in trade--and Luke to him shall go,
And with his kinsman's help and his own thrift
He quickly will repair this loss, and then
He may return to us. If here he stay,
What can be done? Where every one is poor,
What can be gained?"
At this the old Man paused,
And Isabel sat silent, for her mind
Was busy, looking back into past times.
There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself,
He was a parish-boy--at the church-door
They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence
And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbours bought
A basket, which they filled with pedlar's wares;
And, with this basket on his arm, the lad
Went up to London, found a master there,
Who, out of many, chose the trusty boy
To go and overlook his merchandise
Beyond the seas; where he grew wondrous rich,
And left estates and monies to the poor,
And, at his birth-place, built a chapel, floored
With marble which he sent from foreign lands.
These thoughts, and many others of like sort,
Passed quickly through the mind of Isabel,
And her face brightened. The old Man was glad,
And thus resumed:--"Well, Isabel! this scheme
These two days, has been meat and drink to me.
Far more than we have lost is left us yet.
--We have enough--I wish indeed that I
Were younger;--but this hope is a good hope.
--Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best
Buy for him more, and let us send him forth
To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night:
--If he 'could' go, the Boy should go tonight."
Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went forth
With a light heart. The Housewife for five days
Was restless morn and night, and all day long
Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare
Things needful for the journey of her son.
But Isabel was glad when Sunday came
To stop her in her work: for, when she lay
By Michael's side, she through the last two nights
Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep:
And when they rose at morning she could see
That all his hopes were gone. That day at noon
She said to Luke, while they two by themselves
Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not go:
We have no other Child but thee to lose
None to remember--do not go away,
For if thou leave thy Father he will die."
The Youth made answer with a jocund voice;
And Isabel, when she had told her fears, 0
Recovered heart. That evening her best fare
Did she bring forth, and all together sat
Like happy people round a Christmas fire.
With daylight Isabel resumed her work;
And all the ensuing week the house appeared
As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length
The expected letter from their kinsman came,
With kind assurances that he would do
His utmost for the welfare of the Boy;
To which, requests were added, that forthwith
He might be sent to him. Ten times or more
The letter was read over; Isabel
Went forth to show it to the neighbours round;
Nor was there at that time on English land
A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel
Had to her house returned, the old Man said,
"He shall depart to-morrow." To this word
The Housewife answered, talking much of things
Which, if at such short notice he should go,
Would surely be forgotten. But at length
She gave consent, and Michael was at ease.
Near the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll,
In that deep valley, Michael had designed
To build a Sheepfold; and, before he heard
The tidings of his melancholy loss,
For this same purpose he had gathered up
A heap of stones, which by the streamlet's edge
Lay thrown together, ready for the work.
With Luke that evening thitherward he walked:
And soon as they had reached the place he stopped,
And thus the old Man spake to him:--"My Son,
To-morrow thou wilt leave me: with full heart
I look upon thee, for thou art the same
That wert a promise to me ere thy birth,
And all thy life hast been my daily joy.
I will relate to thee some little part
Of our two histories; 'twill do thee good
When thou art from me, even if I should touch
On things thou canst not know of.----After thou
First cam'st into the world--as oft befalls
To new-born infants--thou didst sleep away
Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue
Then fell upon thee. Day by day passed on,
And still I loved thee with increasing love.
Never to living ear came sweeter sounds
Than when I heard thee by our own fireside
First uttering, without words, a natural tune;
While thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy joy
Sing at thy Mother's breast. Month followed month,
And in the open fields my life was passed
And on the mountains; else I think that thou
Hadst been brought up upon thy Father's knees.
But we were playmates, Luke: among these hills,
As well thou knowest, in us the old and young
Have played together, nor with me didst thou
Lack any pleasure which a boy can know."
Luke had a manly heart; but at these words
He sobbed aloud. The old Man grasped his hand,
And said, "Nay, do not take it so--I see
That these are things of which I need not speak.
--Even to the utmost I have been to thee
A kind and a good Father: and herein
I but repay a gift which I myself
Received at others' hands; for, though now old
Beyond the common life of man, I still
Remember them who loved me in my youth.
Both of them sleep together: here they lived,
As all their Forefathers had done; and when
At length their time was come, they were not loth
To give their bodies to the family mould.
I wished that thou should'st live the life they lived:
But, 'tis a long time to look back, my Son,
And see so little gain from threescore years.
These fields were burthened when they came to me;
Till I was forty years of age, not more
Than half of my inheritance was mine.
I toiled and toiled; God blessed me in my work,
And till these three weeks past the land was free.
--It looks as if it never could endure
Another Master. Heaven forgive me, Luke,
If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good
That thou should'st go."
At this the old Man paused;
Then, pointing to the stones near which they stood,
Thus, after a short silence, he resumed:
"This was a work for us; and now, my Son,
It is a work for me. But, lay one stone--
Here, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own hands.
Nay, Boy, be of good hope;--we both may live
To see a better day. At eighty-four
I still am strong and hale;--do thou thy part;
I will do mine.--I will begin again
With many tasks that were resigned to thee:
Up to the heights, and in among the storms,
Will I without thee go again, and do
All works which I was wont to do alone,
Before I knew thy face.--Heaven bless thee, Boy!
Thy heart these two weeks has been beating fast
With many hopes; it should be so--yes--yes--
I knew that thou could'st never have a wish
To leave me, Luke: thou hast been bound to me 0
Only by links of love: when thou art gone,
What will be left to us!--But, I forget
My purposes. Lay now the corner-stone,
As I requested; and hereafter, Luke,
When thou art gone away, should evil men
Be thy companions, think of me, my Son,
And of this moment; hither turn thy thoughts,
And God will strengthen thee: amid all fear
And all temptation, Luke, I pray that thou
May'st bear in mind the life thy Fathers lived,
Who, being innocent, did for that cause
Bestir them in good deeds. Now, fare thee well--
When thou return'st, thou in this place wilt see
A work which is not here: a covenant
'Twill be between us; but, whatever fate
Befall thee, I shall love thee to the last,
And bear thy memory with me to the grave."
The Shepherd ended here; and Luke stooped down,
And, as his Father had requested, laid
The first stone of the Sheepfold. At the sight
The old Man's grief broke from him; to his heart
He pressed his Son, he kissed him and wept;
And to the house together they returned.
--Hushed was that House in peace, or seeming peace,
Ere the night fell:--with morrow's dawn the Boy
Began his journey, and when he had reached
The public way, he put on a bold face;
And all the neighbours, as he passed their doors,
Came forth with wishes and with farewell prayers,
That followed him till he was out of sight.
A good report did from their Kinsman come,
Of Luke and his well-doing: and the Boy
Wrote loving letters, full of wondrous news,
Which, as the Housewife phrased it, were throughout
"The prettiest letters that were ever seen."
Both parents read them with rejoicing hearts.
So, many months passed on: and once again
The Shepherd went about his daily work
With confident and cheerful thoughts; and now
Sometimes when he could find a leisure hour
He to that valley took his way, and there
Wrought at the Sheepfold. Meantime Luke began
To slacken in his duty; and, at length,
He in the dissolute city gave himself
To evil courses: ignominy and shame
Fell on him, so that he was driven at last
To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas.
There is a comfort in the strength of love;
'Twill make a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart:
I have conversed with more than one who well
Remember the old Man, and what he was
Years after he had heard this heavy news.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks
He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud,
And listened to the wind; and, as before,
Performed all kinds of labour for his sheep,
And for the land, his small inheritance.
And to that hollow dell from time to time
Did he repair, to build the Fold of which
His flock had need. 'Tis not forgotten yet
The pity which was then in every heart
For the old Man--and 'tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thither went,
And never lifted up a single stone.
There, by the Sheepfold, sometimes was he seen
Sitting alone, or with his faithful Dog,
Then old, beside him, lying at his feet.
The length of full seven years, from time to time,
He at the building of this Sheepfold wrought,
And left the work unfinished when he died.
Three years, or little more, did Isabel
Survive her Husband: at her death the estate
Was sold, and went into a stranger's hand.
The Cottage which was named the EVENING STAR
Is gone--the ploughshare has been through the ground
On which it stood; great changes have been wrought
In all the neighbourhood:--yet the oak is left
That grew beside their door; and the remains
Of the unfinished Sheepfold may be seen
Beside the boisterous brook of Greenhead Ghyll.

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The Undying One - Canto IV

'TIS done--the night has pass'd away;
And, basking in the sunny day,
The laughing fountain's waters bear
No record of each burning tear;--
The silent echoes give no sound
Of shriek or moan; and nothing round
Can tell what breaking hearts have been
So lately in that quiet scene.
But ere the evening falls again,
Many a step o'er mount and glen
Shall hurry far and wide, to seek
Her of the pallid brow and cheek.
Proud is the eye of the bridegroom lord!
He hath girt him round with a trusty sword,

And the horse that hath borne him to battle for years,
Gladly his angry summons hears.
His red nostrils snuffing the morning air,
Nothing he heeds their heavy care,
But waits till his high curving neck shall be freed,
To bound o'er the hills with an arrow's speed.
He is gone--full swiftly he dashes by--
And many a bright and beautiful eye
Follows the rider's form;--and dreams
Of pleasant walks by the dancing streams,
Of moonlight whisperings in the grove,
Of looks of ardour, and vows of love,
Fill those young hearts: and they wonder why
Visions so happy should make them sigh:
And more they wonder, that any one
Of the numberless forms their eyes have known,
Should have stolen a heart which Carlos woo'd
By the fount, and the lone wood's solitude.

Oh! love--real love! intoxicating dream
Of beauty and of happiness! how vain
Are our aspirings after thee, which seem
To bring thee near us!--doubt and causeless pain,
And jealousies, and most unconstant sighs
For something fairer than this world supplies;
And fondness which doth end in faint disgust;
And airy hopes that crumble down to dust ;--
These are not love,--though these too oft impart
A false excitement to the swelling heart.

To look upon the fairy one, who stands
Before you, with her young hair's shining bands,
And rosy lips half parted;--and to muse,
Not on the features which you now peruse,
Not on the blushing bride,--but look beyond
Unto the aged wife, nor feel less fond:
To feel, that while thy arm can strike them dead,
No breathing soul shall harm that gentle head:
To know, that none with fierce and sudden strife
Shall tear thee from her, save with loss of life:
To keep thee but to one, and let that one
Be to thy home what warmth is to the sun;
To gaze, and find no change, when time hath made
Youth's dazzling beauty darken into shade,
But fondly--firmly--cling to her, nor fear
The fading touch of each declining year:--
This is true love, when it hath found a rest
In the deep home of manhood's faithful breast.

To worship silently at some heart's shrine,
And feel, but paint not, all its fire in thine:
To pray for that heart's hopes, when thine are gone,
Nor let its after coldness chill thine own:
To hold that one, with every fault, more dear
Than all who whisper fondness in thine ear:
To joy thee in his joy, and silently
Meet the upbraiding of his angry eye:
To bear unshrinking all the blows of fate,
Save that which leaves thy sorrow desolate:
Nor deem that woe, which thou canst feel is still
Borne with him, and for him; through every ill
To smile on him,--nor weep, save when apart,
God, and God only; looks into thy heart:
To keep unchanged thy calm, pure, quiet love,
If he, inconstant, doth a new one prove;
To love all round him as a part of him,
Ev'n her he worships:--though thine eye be dim
With weeping for thyself--to pray that not
One cloud may darken o'er their earthly lot:
With the affection of true hearts, to see
His happiness, which doth not hang on thee :--
Oh! this is woman's love--its joy--its pain;
And this--it hath been felt--and felt in vain.

They are dancing again, by the misty veil
Of the star-lit sky and the moonlight pale.
Laughing and murmuring voices rise
With their gladsome tones, to the peaceful skies:
And no one voice hath a sadder tone
For the sake of her whose form is gone,
Though her step was light in the dance, and her brow
Fairer than any which gleam there now.
Yet after the dance is done, and faint
Each languid limb on the turf is thrown,
Their gathering voices strive to paint
The stranger-heart that Linda won.
And still, as his wasted form, pale brow,
And mournful looks to their thoughts appear;
With his deep, sad voice, they wonder how
He hath pleaded his tale in Linda's ear.
And some dream wildly of wizard bower
Which hath tempted those fair young feet to stray:
And some of the sweet and charmed power
Which lies in the moonlight's holy ray:
And some who love--oh! they fondly feel,
In the hopeful heart of the promised bride,
That her soul may be bound in the woe or weal
Of the stranger by the fountain's side:
And none be able to know, or tell,
How such a love in her young heart grew--
Till the charm have bound their souls as well,
And the flame burn bright in their bosoms too.

They travel fast--the bridegroom lord,
With his prancing steed and his trusty sword;
And the brother-tyrant by his side,
With marble brow and heart of pride.
But vainly they follow o'er vale and hill,
Through the tufted heath, or the cool clear rill;
That mournful pair are far before,
Where the bleak sands lie, and the billows roar.
Far from the smiling land of her birth,
Her early home on the boundless earth,
Hath Linda, with tears, resolved to go,
For her mother's son is her deadly foe.
Stern as he was when she watch'd each look,
And obey'd ere he spoke--oh! how shall he brook
That her heart hath swerved, and her vows are naught
For the sake of the love which a stranger brought?
Oh! far may her white foot seek, and reach,
A home on Erin's shingled beach!
Where Miriam dwelt--in their bless'd land
Of the free warm heart, and the open hand;
Where no hypocrite sneer their wrath disguises,
But the sword springs out as the heart's blood rises;

There hath she chosen her home to be:
And their bark bounds over the foaming sea.
Silently watching by Isbal's side,
Sadly she looks on the curling tide;
And, gloomily as it roams o'er all,
His eye is a guide where hers shall fall.
Sudden a light shot o'er that eye,
And a quivering through him came;
And Linda, though she knows not why,
Clings trembling to his frame.
Hurriedly he spoke,
As the deep flush broke
O'er his face:
'There is a vessel--would it were a wreck!--
I know it by the flag; and on that deck
Are forms my soul can trace.
Though yet I see them not, I know
That, could we meet, a bitter woe
Were thine, their power beneath:
Though yet I hear them not, I feel
Each voice would tear the polish'd steel
From out its idle sheath.
Curse on the sails, whose lagging speed
Doth leave us in our hour of need!
Is there no wind in heaven?
They come--oh! Linda, cling to me:
Come closer yet: more strength will be
To love and vengeance given!'

Vain wrath! Young Linda gazes on the sight
Which thus hath conjured up a desperate fight;
And, in the distance she doth spy a sail,
With its flag fluttering gently on the gale,
White, calm, and peaceful:--strange in truth it seems,
That such a sight hath power to wake such dreams.
Yet doth she shudder, as with vehement force
He clasps her round, and views the vessel's course.
It nears--it nears--and through the signal glass,
The distant forms of crew and captain pass.--
'Tis they! 'tis they! Her brother's haughty form,
Proudly erect, defies the coming storm:
And, seated near him, in his mantle clad,
With brow almost as haughty, but more sad,
Is he who woo'd her heart, when love was yet
A dream--which those who wake, strive vainly to forget!

She sees them, but all unconscious they,
Who tracks them thus on their distant way.
They hail the vessel, then turn to gaze
Upon the sunset's parting rays;
And veering in their course, they sever,
Careless if they should part for ever!
But Isbal hath fix'd his straining sight
On the gleamy look of her canvas white,
And with impatient glance on high
Chides the full sails that hide the sky;
And yearns, till that distant land be won,
For spirits' wings to bear him on.
Bounds the light ship on her foamy track,
With her crimson pennant floating back:
Onward impell'd by the steady gales,
That are firmly pressing the swelling sails.

On she goes, and the waves are dashing
Under her stern, and under her prow;
Oh! pleasant the sound of the waters splashing
To those who the heat of the desert know.

On she goes--and the light is breaking
In a narrow streak o'er the distant sea;
And the shouts confused of the crew are waking
The silent air with an echo free.

On she goes--and the moon hath risen--
The holy moon that her veil doth shroud;
And like a mournful face from prison,
She looketh out of her watery cloud.

Graceful as earth's most gentle daughters,
That good ship sails through the gleaming spray--
Like a beautiful dream on the darken'd waters,
Till she anchors in Killala bay.

Erin!--be hush'd, my lyre! Oh! thou,
With ardent mind and eager brow;
With heart and harp together strung,
The hero's soul, the poet's tongue;
Who shall attempt the chorded shell
Which thou hast breathed upon so well?
Or who shall seek that land to praise,
Nor seem to echo back thy lays?
That land, 'the land that bore thee;' never
Shall aught thy name from Erin's sever--
Nor dream of Erin's beauty be,
That doth not also breathe of thee.
And if perchance, in after years,
Some other harp shall wake our tears;

Or, with a burst of glorious song,
Bear our rapt souls in dreams along:
The songs they sing, the lays they pour,
Shall bring us back thy genius--Moore!
Oh! yes--by all that others feel,
When from thy lip the low words steal:
By many an unregarded sigh
The winds have caught in passing by:
By wild far dreams of light divine,
That come not, save to souls like thine:
By the heart-swelling thou hast wrought:
By thy deep melody of thought:
By tear, and song, and ardour won--
The harp of Erin is thine own!

A storm is in the sky; a storm on earth;
And terror pale hath hush'd the voice of mirth.
And strong determination gleams forth now
From the deep lines of many a careless brow.
A storm is on the sea; a storm in heaven;
And wildly on the vessel's course is driven.
Forth rushes lightning from the lurid skies,
And ere the pilot's lips can pray,--he dies!
Aghast they stand;--the blacken'd corse lies there,
Sickening their helpless hearts with deep despair:

While Isbal waves his vainly lifted hand,
And shouts in deafen'd ears his proud command:
'Each to his post! Myself will take the helm,
Though lightnings dart, and billows overwhelm.
Why dream ye thus? Is death so dreadful then
To shrinking things that boast the name of men?
Will ye be daunted that one soul hath gone
Ere he had time to say, 'I go alone!'
Struggle for life! for soon the yawning tide,
Which howls and dashes o'er the good ship's side,
Shall come to claim its prey:--each to his post,
And strain and labour, or the ship is lost!'
Alarm, and shame, and wonder fill their hearts;
And then his fiery speech some warmth imparts.
All hands aboard with silent strength obey,
And the strain'd vessel ploughs her labour'd way.

A bark--a bark comes tossing o'er the wave,
(On the dark face of heaven, more darkly seen)
Right on the vessel's course,--while ev'n the brave
Shudder for breath;--what doth the helmsman mean?
Onward she comes--by raging wave and wind
Helplessly driven with a meteor's speed:
Almost she touches:--is the helmsman blind,
That of such danger he doth take no heed?

Well doth he know that ship, whose eye hath watch'd
All the long day; and now doth glaring stand,
His only fear that heaven perchance hath snatch'd
His deep revenge from out his desperate hand.
She comes!--a shock--a hollow whiffing sound--
A wail that o'er the troubled waters went
Of many howling voices;--a harsh sound
Of the keel grating o'er that bark's descent;
And all was over!--Oh! in those few words
How much of agony, and hope, and fear,
And yearnings after life, and treasured hoards
Of young hearts' feelings, cease and disappear!
All--all was over! what, we may not know;
But, looking back, in our own breasts we feel
Much perish'd, with the separate all of those
Who sank beneath that vessel's grating keel.
And with them perish'd Linda's brother stern,
And the young bridegroom in his hour of youth:
And Linda feels her brain and bosom burn--
Oh! it had madden'd her to know the truth!
The murderous truth, that he she loved--for whom
And for whose love she broke her plighted troth,
With strong and ruthless hand prepared the doom,
Which sickens her to dream upon--for both.
But as it was, she gazed into his face,
And round upon the black and empty space,

And then with shudderings cold she bow'd her head,
And gazed upon the waters.--
Have the dead
Power to rise? She sees a single form
All impotently struggling with the storm,
And tossing high his arm, as if to crave
A rescue from his comrades' watery grave.
Oh! save him!--save him! Swift a rope is thrown,
And on the deck, with an exhausted groan,
The half-drown'd wretch is laid. With greedy glare
Doth Isbal watch him for a moment there;
And then with faded glance draws calmly back,
And seems to watch the vessel's furrow'd track.
Meanwhile full many a rough but hearty grasp
Greets the lone stranger; but his hand the clasp
Returns not--and their words of welcome seem
Spoken to one who hears not, but doth dream.
Wistfully gazing up into their eyes,
As though he understood them not--awhile
All motionless he stands; then to the skies,
Then on the sea, with a most bitter smile.
And thus he spoke, but whom he loved, or why,
Is in His book who suffer'd them to die:--

'It was a pleasant dream--possessing thee,
Albeit thy stay was very short on earth:
And still my hopes and heart are blessing thee,
Thou of the glad bright eyes and voice of mirth.
It was a pleasant dream--but thou art gone,
By many a billow cover'd from my sight:
Thou'lt come no more to cheer me when alone--
Thy lips are mute--thine eyes no more are bright.
Oh! thou in whom my life was all bound up,
What is that life without thee? Long ere now
I deem'd that I had drain'd pale sorrow's cup--
Alas! I had not seen death on thy brow.

'Oft, when with boding fears I've sat to watch
For thy dear coming, with dim weary gaze,
Or wander'd out thine eye's first glance to catch,
Fancy hath painted them with fading rays.
I've dream'd of danger and of death; and when
Thine answering look hath met my anxious eye;
When I have clasp'd thee to my heart again--
That heart's full joy hath strain'd to agony.
But it hath come at last--the long dark day,
The cheerless absence which hath no return;
And what is left to me? where lies thy clay--
There--there, beloved, doth my beacon burn!'

Wildly he gazed upon the green deep wave,
As if he sought a spot to be his grave;
Then turning him where Isbal stood aside,
'My curse upon thee, helmsman!' loud he cried.
He leapt--the waters closed, and murmur'd o'er:
The heart that beat to suffer--felt no more.
And Isbal started, and young Linda wept;
And the heavens brighten'd, and the loud winds slept.
The cold pale moon began once more to shine,
And the tall vessel sped athwart the brine.

'Tis deep blue midnight--many a star
Is twinkling in the heavens afar.
The autumn winds are blowing keen
The straight and steady masts between;
And motionless the vessel lies,
As she were traced upon the skies.
Within that anchor'd ship are some
Fond simple hearts who dream of home;
And murmuring in their sleep, they hear
Far distant voices whispering near.
Within that anchor'd ship are many
Whose careless dreams (if they have any)
Bring back some lightly-utter'd jest,
To brighten o'er their lonely rest.

Within that anchor'd ship are none
Who sleep not, save the watch--and one
Who may not rest--who dares not dream;
And he--whence glows that sudden beam
That shot along his pallid brow?
Again--again--'tis brighter now--
Awake! awake! 'tis danger--death!--
The flames are round, above, beneath;
Fire! on the lonely waste of sea--
Fire! where no human help can be!
Wild, breathless, and aghast, the crew
Crowd the scorch'd deck. A busy few,
With the rude instinct that doth make
Man struggle for existence' sake,
Lower the boats:--one after one
Those frail light barks are landward gone,
Ere Isbal from his vision'd trance
Is roused.--What meets his hurried glance?
Half burnt, half drown'd, around him dying,
Are wretches on the waters lying.
He gazes on all with shivering start--
''Tis the curse--'tis the curse of that broken heart!'
He hails the last boat--'Oh! not for my life
Do I ask you to brave the element's strife;
But for her who is dearer than life'--in vain!
A hoarse voice answers him again:

'When thou wert helmsman, the ship went down,
And the heavens look'd out with an angry frown.
How know we who or what thou art,
A man in form, but a fiend in heart!
Thou didst not shudder, nor quail, nor shrink,
When we heard the waves their death-sob drink;
Though brave men held their breath, to see
Their fellows die so suddenly!
The wrath of Heaven is on thy head,
And a cry is come up from the early dead--
It hath wrought on us this awful sign;
And we will not perish for thee or thine!'

It was over now!--and alone they stood
In that fiery ship, on the glowing flood;
With a woman's love, and a woman's fear,
She clung to that bosom, now doubly dear;
And she look'd up into his death-like face,
From the eager clasp of his firm embrace,
With a strange wild smile, which seem'd to say,
'Let us die together.' He turn'd away,
And he gazed far out on the lonely sea,
Where the billows are raging desperately;
He gazed far out to the utmost verge,
But the sickening sound of the booming surge,

And the dashing waves, with their ceaseless strife,
Coursing each other like things of life--
And a howl through the lighted firmament,
As the boat, and the boat's crew downward went--
Sounds of sorrow, and sights of fear,
Were all which struck on his eye and ear.
He look'd around him:--the fiery blaze
Mocking the pale moon's quiet rays;
The red flames licking the top-mast high,
As if climbing to reach the cool clear sky;
And the waters which came with a hissing,
On the side of the burning ship to dash;
The fire-tinged sails, and the lonely deck,
Which must soon be a black and helpless wreck;
The perishing fragments of all which lay
So proudly bright at the close of day;
And the memory of that grating sound,
When the keel pass'd over the wretches drown'd:
These, and the thoughts such scenes impart,
Were all that struck on his eye and heart.
All--was it all? Was there no pale form,
Shining amid the element's storm,
With her lip compress'd, and her dark eye proud,
While the flames rose high, and the blast blew loud?
Feeling that now no earthly power
Could sever their hearts for one short hour,

And careless of death, because she knew
That where he sank, she must perish too!
He look'd on her, and his heart grew sick,
And his filmy glance was dull and thick,
As wildly earnest he gazed once more
From the rolling sea to the distant shore.
A wild light shot o'er his gloomy brow;
'Oh! Heaven, dear Linda, is with us now!
Amid these scenes of fear and dread,
Thy Isbal, still secure, might tread:
The floating wave would bear him on
To live--but he would live alone.
Oh! by the love thou bear'st me still,
Though to me thou owest all earthly ill;
By the hours, and days, and years of bliss
Which made thy dreams, ere life sank to this;
By the hope that hath been, and that still may be,
Plunge into the waves, beloved, with me.'
Wildly she gazes, and shrouds her eyes
From the dark confusion of sea and skies.
Oh! woman's heart! to die by his side
Less fearful seems than to stem that tide;
Those roaring, raging, horrible waves,
Which are rolling o'er her shipmates' graves.

Onward--onward--and Isbal draws
His labour'd breath with a gasping pause;
The curse is light
On his soul that night;
For a heart is beating against his breast,
Where his lonely thoughts have found sweet rest,
And a calm delight.

Onward--onward--she faints not yet--
Though her cheek be cold, and her long hair wet;
And Isbal yearns,
As her fond eye turns
To search for hope in his eager face;
For land, and a mossy resting-place,
Where nothing burns.

Onward--onward--for weary miles
Through the lone chill waters, where nothing smiles,
And the light hath shrunk--
And the wave hath drunk
The last dull, cheerless, ruddy gleam,
And naught remains but an awful dream
Of the good ship sunk.

Onward--onward--in darkness now,
And the dew is standing on Isbal's brow;
And his soul is wrung,
As the arms which clung
Confidingly, droop in their beauty there
On the nervous strength of his shoulder bare,
Where her long hair hung.

Onward--onward--he hears once more
Murmurs and sounds from the blessed shore.
He heedeth not
His long dark lot,
But strains that form in a long embrace,
And tenderly kisses her cold pale face,
And his toil is forgot.

'Thou'rt saved, my Linda! See, the land is won--
The pleasant land where we may live alone:
The deep firm land, where we may stand and gaze
Upon the ocean in its stormiest days.
Linda, my beautiful! oh, blessed be
That day of well-remember'd agony
Which stamp'd the brand of darkness on my brow--
Since I have lived, beloved, to save thee now.'

He hath lifted her and laid her down,
And taken her soft hand in his own,
And wrung the brine from out her hair,
And raised its weight from her bosom fair,
Its cold damp weight, that her breath may come
Free from its pure and lovely home.
He hath press'd his cheek close, close to hers,
To feel when the first pulsation stirs,
And now he watches with patient love
Till that fainting form begin to move.
Long may he watch. Oh! never more
By the rolling sea, or the pleasant shore,
Shall her mournful voice with its gentle sigh
Whisper soft words of melody.
Never, oh! never more, her form
With faithful step, through sun and storm,
Shall follow him from land to land
Or like his guardian spirit stand.
Long may he watch for that head to rise,
For the gentle glance of those waking eyes:
Cold and pale as she lieth now--
With her weary limbs, and her faded brow,
So must she lie for evermore--
She hath pass'd her trials, and reach'd the shore!

Ah! who shall tell their agonized despair,
Who, after watchful nights of ceaseless prayer,
And days of toil, and hours of bitter tears,
And agony that does the work of years--
Stand by the bed of death with whirling brain,
And feel they toil'd, and loved, and pray'd, in vain.
Sadly and fearfully they shrink from those
Whose looks confirm the story of their woes,
And seek with visionary words to buoy
Their spirits up with prophecies of joy:
Ev'n while their blanch'd lips quiver in their dread,
The faint tongue murmurs, 'No, they are not dead!'
And yet we feel they are. So Isbal stood
By the deep, rolling, and eternal flood;
And so he sought some comfort to impart
With a fond falsehood to his conscious heart;
And still repeated, 'Lo, she breathes! she stirs!'
When his own breath had waved a tress of hers.
The oft repeated echo died away
Of those vain words; and as the ocean spray
With its light snow-shower drenches her again,
His lip gives forth uncertain sounds of pain.

In his wrung heart he seeks to guess
When perish'd so much of loveliness;

And in Fancy's dream her arms again
Cling, as they clung around him then.
Which of the mountain waves that rose,
Bade her meek eyes for ever close?
Was it her corpse that he bore for miles,
When he gladly dreamt of her grateful smiles?
Or did her white feet touch the shore,
Ere her spirit departed for evermore?
With a straining force his deep thoughts dwell
On each murmur that rose 'mid the ocean's swell.
Was it, when feebly her young arms sank,
That the dashing waters her spirit drank,
And her breath pass'd out on the billows high
With a faint and an unremember'd sigh?
But no--for long after he spoke to cheer,
And her sweet voice answer'd in his ear.
Was it when darkness fell around,
And the red ship sank with a gurgling sound--
That her angel soul to its haven past
On the unseen wings of the midnight blast?
Did she yearn for the far land hopelessly,
As her stiff limbs shrank from the foaming sea:
Or did she yield her up to death,
With a weary moan, and a gasping breath?
Vainly he searches his tortured brain
For a farewell word, or a sigh of pain;

Silently as he bore her on,
Her soul from its gentle frame hath gone,
And never on earth shall his heart discover
The moment her love and her life were over;
Only this much shall the lost one know--
Where she hath departed, he may not go!

With sternly folded arms, and indrawn breath,
He stands and gazes on that form of death.
The deep--the sickening certainty is there,
The doom eternal of his long despair.
O'er the dim wave he flung his desperate arm,
Forgetful in his anguish of the charm
That bound his life. With effort wild and vain
He plunges headlong in the treacherous main;
While the lone sea, with melancholy sound,
Returns him groaning to the mossy ground.
Again he leaps the tide-wash'd bank, which late
He deem'd a shelter from the storms of fate:
The dashing waters yield, and then divide;
But still he sinks not in the whelming tide.
Proudly he stemm'd the billows, when his arms
Bore the faint burden of his Linda's charms:
Proudly he gazed upon the waters high,
Whose strength contain'd no power to bid him die:

But now he curses, with a bitter voice,
The ocean, which doth triumph and rejoice,
As the green billows, heaving in the day,
Greedily roar around that lifeless clay.
Hark! the wild howl that echoes through the land,
As his foot spurns the smooth and glittering sand.
That wave its floating weight on shore hath thrown;
And 'the Undying One' is left alone.

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The Bridal of Pennacook

We had been wandering for many days
Through the rough northern country. We had seen
The sunset, with its bars of purple cloud,
Like a new heaven, shine upward from the lake
Of Winnepiseogee; and had felt
The sunrise breezes, midst the leafy isles
Which stoop their summer beauty to the lips
Of the bright waters. We had checked our steeds,
Silent with wonder, where the mountain wall
Is piled to heaven; and, through the narrow rift
Of the vast rocks, against whose rugged feet
Beats the mad torrent with perpetual roar,
Where noonday is as twilight, and the wind
Comes burdened with the everlasting moan
Of forests and of far-off waterfalls,
We had looked upward where the summer sky,
Tasselled with clouds light-woven by the sun,
Sprung its blue arch above the abutting crags
O'er-roofing the vast portal of the land
Beyond the wall of mountains. We had passed
The high source of the Saco; and bewildered
In the dwarf spruce-belts of the Crystal Hills,
Had heard above us, like a voice in the cloud,
The horn of Fabyan sounding; and atop
Of old Agioochook had seen the mountains'
Piled to the northward, shagged with wood, and thick
As meadow mole-hills,—the far sea of Casco,
A white gleam on the horizon of the east;
Fair lakes, embosomed in the woods and hills;
Moosehillock's mountain range, and Kearsarge
Lifting his granite forehead to the sun!

And we had rested underneath the oaks
Shadowing the bank, whose grassy spires are shaken
By the perpetual beating of the falls
Of the wild Ammonoosuc. We had tracked
The winding Pemigewasset, overhung
By beechen shadows, whitening down its rocks,
Or lazily gliding through its intervals,
From waving rye-fields sending up the gleam
Of sunlit waters. We had seen the moon
Rising behind Umbagog's eastern pines,
Like a great Indian camp-fire; and its beams
At midnight spanning with a bridge of silver
The Merrimac by Uncanoonuc's falls.

There were five souls of us whom travel's chance
Had thrown together in these wild north hills
A city lawyer, for a month escaping
From his dull office, where the weary eye
Saw only hot brick walls and close thronged streets;
Briefless as yet, but with an eye to see
Life's sunniest side, and with a heart to take
Its chances all as godsends; and his brother,
Pale from long pulpit studies, yet retaining
The warmth and freshness of a genial heart,
Whose mirror of the beautiful and true,
In Man and Nature, was as yet undimmed
By dust of theologic strife, or breath
Of sect, or cobwebs of scholastic lore;
Like a clear crystal calm of water, taking
The hue and image of o'erleaning flowers,
Sweet human faces, white clouds of the noon,
Slant starlight glimpses through the dewy leaves,
And tenderest moonrise. 'Twas, in truth, a study,
To mark his spirit, alternating between
A decent and professional gravity
And an irreverent mirthfulness, which often
Laughed in the face of his divinity,
Plucked off the sacred ephod, quite unshrined
The oracle, and for the pattern priest
Left us the man. A shrewd, sagacious merchant,
To whom the soiled sheet found in Crawford's inn,
Giving the latest news of city stocks
And sales of cotton, had a deeper meaning
Than the great presence of the awful mountains
Glorified by the sunset; and his daughter,
A delicate flower on whom had blown too long
Those evil winds, which, sweeping from the ice
And winnowing the fogs of Labrador,
Shed their cold blight round Massachusetts Bay,
With the same breath which stirs Spring's opening leaves
And lifts her half-formed flower-bell on its stem,
Poisoning our seaside atmosphere.

It chanced that as we turned upon our homeward way,
A drear northeastern storm came howling up
The valley of the Saco; and that girl
Who had stood with us upon Mount Washington,
Her brown locks ruffled by the wind which whirled
In gusts around its sharp, cold pinnacle,
Who had joined our gay trout-fishing in the streams
Which lave that giant's feet; whose laugh was heard
Like a bird's carol on the sunrise breeze
Which swelled our sail amidst the lake's green islands,
Shrank from its harsh, chill breath, and visibly drooped
Like a flower in the frost. So, in that quiet inn
Which looks from Conway on the mountains piled
Heavily against the horizon of the north,
Like summer thunder-clouds, we made our home
And while the mist hung over dripping hills,
And the cold wind-driven rain-drops all day long
Beat their sad music upon roof and pane,
We strove to cheer our gentle invalid.

The lawyer in the pauses of the storm
Went angling down the Saco, and, returning,
Recounted his adventures and mishaps;
Gave us the history of his scaly clients,
Mingling with ludicrous yet apt citations
Of barbarous law Latin, passages
From Izaak Walton's Angler, sweet and fresh
As the flower-skirted streams of Staffordshire,
Where, under aged trees, the southwest wind
Of soft June mornings fanned the thin, white hair
Of the sage fisher. And, if truth be told,
Our youthful candidate forsook his sermons,
His commentaries, articles and creeds,
For the fair page of human loveliness,
The missal of young hearts, whose sacred text
Is music, its illumining, sweet smiles.
He sang the songs she loved; and in his low,
Deep, earnest voice, recited many a page
Of poetry, the holiest, tenderest lines
Of the sad bard of Olney, the sweet songs,
Simple and beautiful as Truth and Nature,
Of him whose whitened locks on Rydal Mount
Are lifted yet by morning breezes blowing
From the green hills, immortal in his lays.
And for myself, obedient to her wish,
I searched our landlord's proffered library,—
A well-thumbed Bunyan, with its nice wood pictures
Of scaly fiends and angels not unlike them;
Watts' unmelodious psalms; Astrology's
Last home, a musty pile of almanacs,
And an old chronicle of border wars
And Indian history. And, as I read
A story of the marriage of the Chief
Of Saugus to the dusky Weetamoo,
Daughter of Passaconaway, who dwelt
In the old time upon the Merrimac,
Our fair one, in the playful exercise
Of her prerogative,—the right divine
Of youth and beauty,—bade us versify
The legend, and with ready pencil sketched
Its plan and outlines, laughingly assigning
To each his part, and barring our excuses
With absolute will. So, like the cavaliers
Whose voices still are heard in the Romance
Of silver-tongued Boccaccio, on the banks
Of Arno, with soft tales of love beguiling
The ear of languid beauty, plague-exiled
From stately Florence, we rehearsed our rhymes
To their fair auditor, and shared by turns
Her kind approval and her playful censure.

It may be that these fragments owe alone
To the fair setting of their circumstances,—
The associations of time, scene, and audience,—
Their place amid the pictures which fill up
The chambers of my memory. Yet I trust
That some, who sigh, while wandering in thought,
Pilgrims of Romance o'er the olden world,
That our broad land,—our sea-like lakes and mountains
Piled to the clouds, our rivers overhung
By forests which have known no other change
For ages than the budding and the fall
Of leaves, our valleys lovelier than those
Which the old poets sang of,—should but figure
On the apocryphal chart of speculation
As pastures, wood-lots, mill-sites, with the privileges,
Rights, and appurtenances, which make up
A Yankee Paradise, unsung, unknown,
To beautiful tradition; even their names,
Whose melody yet lingers like the last
Vibration of the red man's requiem,
Exchanged for syllables significant,
Of cotton-mill and rail-car, will look kindly
Upon this effort to call up the ghost
Of our dim Past, and listen with pleased ear
To the responses of the questioned Shade.

I. THE MERRIMAC

O child of that white-crested mountain whose springs
Gush forth in the shade of the cliff-eagle's wings,
Down whose slopes to the lowlands thy wild waters shine,
Leaping gray walls of rock, flashing through the dwarf pine;
From that cloud-curtained cradle so cold and so lone,
From the arms of that wintry-locked mother of stone,
By hills hung with forests, through vales wide and free,
Thy mountain-born brightness glanced down to the sea.

No bridge arched thy waters save that where the trees
Stretched their long arms above thee and kissed in the breeze:
No sound save the lapse of the waves on thy shores,
The plunging of otters, the light dip of oars.

Green-tufted, oak-shaded, by Amoskeag's fall
Thy twin Uncanoonucs rose stately and tall,
Thy Nashua meadows lay green and unshorn,
And the hills of Pentucket were tasselled with corn.
But thy Pennacook valley was fairer than these,
And greener its grasses and taller its trees,
Ere the sound of an axe in the forest had rung,
Or the mower his scythe in the meadows had swung.

In their sheltered repose looking out from the wood
The bark-builded wigwams of Pennacook stood;
There glided the corn-dance, the council-fire shone,
And against the red war-post the hatchet was thrown.

There the old smoked in silence their pipes, and the young
To the pike and the white-perch their baited lines flung;
There the boy shaped his arrows, and there the shy maid
Wove her many-hued baskets and bright wampum braid.

O Stream of the Mountains! if answer of thine
Could rise from thy waters to question of mine,
Methinks through the din of thy thronged banks a moan
Of sorrow would swell for the days which have gone.

Not for thee the dull jar of the loom and the wheel,
The gliding of shuttles, the ringing of steel;
But that old voice of waters, of bird and of breeze,
The dip of the wild-fowl, the rustling of trees.


II. THE BASHABA

Lift we the twilight curtains of the Past,
And, turning from familiar sight and sound,
Sadly and full of reverence let us cast
A glance upon Tradition's shadowy ground,
Led by the few pale lights which, glimmering round
That dim, strange land of Eld, seem dying fast;
And that which history gives not to the eye,
The faded coloring of Time's tapestry,
Let Fancy, with her dream-dipped brush, supply.

Roof of bark and walls of pine,
Through whose chinks the sunbeams shine,
Tracing many a golden line
On the ample floor within;
Where, upon that earth-floor stark,
Lay the gaudy mats of bark,
With the bear's hide, rough and dark,
And the red-deer's skin.

Window-tracery, small and slight,
Woven of the willow white,
Lent a dimly checkered light;
And the night-stars glimmered down,
Where the lodge-fire's heavy smoke,
Slowly through an opening broke,
In the low roof, ribbed with oak,
Sheathed with hemlock brown.

Gloomed behind the changeless shade
By the solemn pine-wood made;
Through the rugged palisade,
In the open foreground planted,
Glimpses came of rowers rowing,
Stir of leaves and wild-flowers blowing,
Steel-like gleams of water flowing,
In the sunlight slanted.

Here the mighty Bashaba
Held his long-unquestioned sway,
From the White Hills, far away,
To the great sea's sounding shore;
Chief of chiefs, his regal word
All the river Sachems heard,
At his call the war-dance stirred,
Or was still once more.

There his spoils of chase and war,
Jaw of wolf and black bear's paw,
Panther's skin and eagle's claw,
Lay beside his axe and bow;
And, adown the roof-pole hung,
Loosely on a snake-skin strung,
In the smoke his scalp-locks swung
Grimly to and fro.

Nightly down the river going,
Swifter was the hunter's rowing,
When he saw that lodge-fire, glowing
O'er the waters still and red;
And the squaw's dark eye burned brighter,
And she drew her blanket tighter,
As, with quicker step and lighter,
From that door she fled.

For that chief had magic skill,
And a Panisee's dark will,
Over powers of good and ill,
Powers which bless and powers which ban;
Wizard lord of Pennacook,
Chiefs upon their war-path shook,
When they met the steady look
Of that wise dark man.

Tales of him the gray squaw told,
When the winter night-wind cold
Pierced her blanket's thickest fold,
And her fire burned low and small,
Till the very child abed,
Drew its bear-skin over bead,
Shrinking from the pale lights shed
On the trembling wall.

All the subtle spirits hiding
Under earth or wave, abiding
In the caverned rock, or riding
Misty clouds or morning breeze;
Every dark intelligence,
Secret soul, and influence
Of all things which outward sense
Feels, or bears, or sees,—

These the wizard's skill confessed,
At his bidding banned or blessed,
Stormful woke or lulled to rest
Wind and cloud, and fire and flood;
Burned for him the drifted snow,
Bade through ice fresh lilies blow,
And the leaves of summer grow
Over winter's wood!

Not untrue that tale of old!
Now, as then, the wise and bold
All the powers of Nature hold
Subject to their kingly will;
From the wondering crowds ashore,
Treading life's wild waters o'er,
As upon a marble floor,
Moves the strong man still.

Still, to such, life's elements
With their sterner laws dispense,
And the chain of consequence
Broken in their pathway lies;
Time and change their vassals making,
Flowers from icy pillows waking,
Tresses of the sunrise shaking
Over midnight skies.
Still, to th' earnest soul, the sun
Rests on towered Gibeon,
And the moon of Ajalon
Lights the battle-grounds of life;
To his aid the strong reverses
Hidden powers and giant forces,
And the high stars, in their courses,
Mingle in his strife!


III. THE DAUGHTER

The soot-black brows of men, the yell
Of women thronging round the bed,
The tinkling charm of ring and shell,
The Powah whispering o'er the dead!

All these the Sachem's home had known,
When, on her journey long and wild
To the dim World of Souls, alone,
In her young beauty passed the mother of his child.

Three bow-shots from the Sachem's dwelling
They laid her in the walnut shade,
Where a green hillock gently swelling
Her fitting mound of burial made.
There trailed the vine in summer hours,
The tree-perched squirrel dropped his shell,—
On velvet moss and pale-hued flowers,
Woven with leaf and spray, the softened sunshine fell!

The Indian's heart is hard and cold,
It closes darkly o'er its care,
And formed in Nature's sternest mould,
Is slow to feel, and strong to bear.
The war-paint on the Sachem's face,
Unwet with tears, shone fierce and red,
And still, in battle or in chase,
Dry leaf and snow-rime crisped beneath his foremost tread.

Yet when her name was heard no more,
And when the robe her mother gave,
And small, light moccasin she wore,
Had slowly wasted on her grave,
Unmarked of him the dark maids sped
Their sunset dance and moonlit play;
No other shared his lonely bed,
No other fair young head upon his bosom lay.

A lone, stern man. Yet, as sometimes
The tempest-smitten tree receives
From one small root the sap which climbs
Its topmost spray and crowning leaves,
So from his child the Sachem drew
A life of Love and Hope, and felt
His cold and rugged nature through
The softness and the warmth of her young being melt.

A laugh which in the woodland rang
Bemocking April's gladdest bird,—
A light and graceful form which sprang
To meet him when his step was heard,—
Eyes by his lodge-fire flashing dark,
Small fingers stringing bead and shell
Or weaving mats of bright-hued bark,—
With these the household-god had graced his wigwam well.

Child of the forest! strong and free,
Slight-robed, with loosely flowing hair,
She swam the lake or climbed the tree,
Or struck the flying bird in air.
O'er the heaped drifts of winter's moon
Her snow-shoes tracked the hunter's way;
And dazzling in the summer noon
The blade of her light oar threw off its shower of spray!

Unknown to her the rigid rule,
The dull restraint, the chiding frown,
The weary torture of the school,
The taming of wild nature down.
Her only lore, the legends told
Around the hunter's fire at night;
Stars rose and set, and seasons rolled,
Flowers bloomed and snow-flakes fell, unquestioned in her sight.

Unknown to her the subtle skill
With which the artist-eye can trace
In rock and tree and lake and hill
The outlines of divinest grace;
Unknown the fine soul's keen unrest,
Which sees, admires, yet yearns alway;
Too closely on her mother's breast
To note her smiles of love the child of Nature lay!

It is enough for such to be
Of common, natural things a part,
To feel, with bird and stream and tree,
The pulses of the same great heart;
But we, from Nature long exiled,
In our cold homes of Art and Thought
Grieve like the stranger-tended child,
Which seeks its mother's arms, and sees but feels them not.

The garden rose may richly bloom
In cultured soil and genial air,
To cloud the light of Fashion's room
Or droop in Beauty's midnight hair;
In lonelier grace, to sun and dew
The sweetbrier on the hillside shows
Its single leaf and fainter hue,
Untrained and wildly free, yet still a sister rose!

Thus o'er the heart of Weetamoo
Their mingling shades of joy and ill
The instincts of her nature threw;
The savage was a woman still.
Midst outlines dim of maiden schemes,
Heart-colored prophecies of life,
Rose on the ground of her young dreams
The light of a new home, the lover and the wife.


IV. THE WEDDING

Cool and dark fell the autumn night,
But the Bashaba's wigwam glowed with light,
For down from its roof, by green withes hung,
Flaring and smoking the pine-knots swung.

And along the river great wood-fires
Shot into the night their long, red spires,
Showing behind the tall, dark wood,
Flashing before on the sweeping flood.

In the changeful wind, with shimmer and shade,
Now high, now low, that firelight played,
On tree-leaves wet with evening dews,
On gliding water and still canoes.

The trapper that night on Turee's brook,
And the weary fisher on Contoocook,
Saw over the marshes, and through the pine,
And down on the river, the dance-lights shine.
For the Saugus Sachem had come to woo
The Bashaba's daughter Weetamoo,
And laid at her father's feet that night
His softest furs and wampum white.

From the Crystal Hills to the far southeast
The river Sagamores came to the feast;
And chiefs whose homes the sea-winds shook
Sat down on the mats of Pennacook.

They came from Sunapee's shore of rock,
From the snowy sources of Snooganock,
And from rough Coos whose thick woods shake
Their pine-cones in Umbagog Lake.

From Ammonoosuc's mountain pass,
Wild as his home, came Chepewass;
And the Keenomps of the bills which throw
Their shade on the Smile of Manito.

With pipes of peace and bows unstrung,
Glowing with paint came old and young,
In wampum and furs and feathers arrayed,
To the dance and feast the Bashaba made.

Bird of the air and beast of the field,
All which the woods and the waters yield,
On dishes of birch and hemlock piled,
Garnished and graced that banquet wild.

Steaks of the brown bear fat and large
From the rocky slopes of the Kearsarge;
Delicate trout from Babboosuck brook,
And salmon speared in the Contoocook;

Squirrels which fed where nuts fell thick
in the gravelly bed of the Otternic;
And small wild-hens in reed-snares caught
from the banks of Sondagardee brought;

Pike and perch from the Suncook taken,
Nuts from the trees of the Black Hills shaken,
Cranberries picked in the Squamscot bog,
And grapes from the vines of Piscataquog:

And, drawn from that great stone vase which stands
In the river scooped by a spirit's hands,
Garnished with spoons of shell and horn,
Stood the birchen dishes of smoking corn.

Thus bird of the air and beast of the field,
All which the woods and the waters yield,
Furnished in that olden day
The bridal feast of the Bashaba.

And merrily when that feast was done
On the fire-lit green the dance begun,
With squaws' shrill stave, and deeper hum
Of old men beating the Indian drum.

Painted and plumed, with scalp-locks flowing,
And red arms tossing and black eyes glowing,
Now in the light and now in the shade
Around the fires the dancers played.

The step was quicker, the song more shrill,
And the beat of the small drums louder still
Whenever within the circle drew
The Saugus Sachem and Weetamoo.

The moons of forty winters had shed
Their snow upon that chieftain's head,
And toil and care and battle's chance
Had seamed his hard, dark countenance.

A fawn beside the bison grim,—
Why turns the bride's fond eye on him,
In whose cold look is naught beside
The triumph of a sullen pride?

Ask why the graceful grape entwines
The rough oak with her arm of vines;
And why the gray rock's rugged cheek
The soft lips of the mosses seek.

Why, with wise instinct, Nature seems
To harmonize her wide extremes,
Linking the stronger with the weak,
The haughty with the soft and meek!


V. THE NEW HOME

A wild and broken landscape, spiked with firs,
Roughening the bleak horizon's northern edge;
Steep, cavernous hillsides, where black hemlock spurs
And sharp, gray splinters of the wind-swept ledge
Pierced the thin-glazed ice, or bristling rose,
Where the cold rim of the sky sunk down upon the snows.

And eastward cold, wide marshes stretched away,
Dull, dreary flats without a bush or tree,
O'er-crossed by icy creeks, where twice a day
Gurgled the waters of the moon-struck sea;
And faint with distance came the stifled roar,
The melancholy lapse of waves on that low shore.

No cheerful village with its mingling smokes,
No laugh of children wrestling in the snow,
No camp-fire blazing through the hillside oaks,
No fishers kneeling on the ice below;
Yet midst all desolate things of sound and view,
Through the long winter moons smiled dark-eyed Weetamoo.

Her heart had found a home; and freshly all
Its beautiful affections overgrew
Their rugged prop. As o'er some granite wall
Soft vine-leaves open to the moistening dew
And warm bright sun, the love of that young wife
Found on a hard cold breast the dew and warmth of life.

The steep, bleak hills, the melancholy shore,
The long, dead level of the marsh between,
A coloring of unreal beauty wore
Through the soft golden mist of young love seen.
For o'er those hills and from that dreary plain,
Nightly she welcomed home her hunter chief again.

No warmth of heart, no passionate burst of feeling,
Repaid her welcoming smile and parting kiss,
No fond and playful dalliance half concealing,
Under the guise of mirth, its tenderness;

But, in their stead, the warrior's settled pride,
And vanity's pleased smile with homage satisfied.

Enough for Weetamoo, that she alone
Sat on his mat and slumbered at his side;
That he whose fame to her young ear had flown
Now looked upon her proudly as his bride;
That he whose name the Mohawk trembling heard
Vouchsafed to her at times a kindly look or word.

For she had learned the maxims of her race,
Which teach the woman to become a slave,
And feel herself the pardonless disgrace
Of love's fond weakness in the wise and brave,—
The scandal and the shame which they incur,
Who give to woman all which man requires of her.

So passed the winter moons. The sun at last
Broke link by link the frost chain of the rills,
And the warm breathings of the southwest passed
Over the hoar rime of the Saugus hills;
The gray and desolate marsh grew green once more,
And the birch-tree's tremulous shade fell round the Sachem's door.

Then from far Pennacook swift runners came,
With gift and greeting for the Saugus chief;
Beseeching him in the great Sachem's name,
That, with the coming of the flower and leaf,
The song of birds, the warm breeze and the rain,
Young Weetamoo might greet her lonely sire again.

And Winnepurkit called his chiefs together,
And a grave council in his wigwam met,
Solemn and brief in words, considering whether
The rigid rules of forest etiquette
Permitted Weetamoo once more to look
Upon her father's face and green-banked Pennacook.

With interludes of pipe-smoke and strong water,
The forest sages pondered, and at length,
Concluded in a body to escort her
Up to her father's home of pride and strength,
Impressing thus on Pennacook a sense
Of Winnepurkit's power and regal consequence.

So through old woods which Aukeetamit's hand,
A soft and many-shaded greenness lent,
Over high breezy hills, and meadow land
Yellow with flowers, the wild procession went,
Till, rolling down its wooded banks between,
A broad, clear, mountain stream, the Merrimac was seen.

The hunter leaning on his bow undrawn,
The fisher lounging on the pebbled shores,
Squaws in the clearing dropping the seed-corn,
Young children peering through the wigwam doors,
Saw with delight, surrounded by her train
Of painted Saugus braves, their Weetamoo again.


VI. AT PENNACOOK

The hills are dearest which our childish feet
Have climbed the earliest; and the streams most sweet
Are ever those at which our young lips drank,
Stooped to their waters o'er the grassy bank.

Midst the cold dreary sea-watch, Home's hearth-light
Shines round the helmsman plunging through the night;
And still, with inward eye, the traveller sees
In close, dark, stranger streets his native trees.

The home-sick dreamer's brow is nightly fanned
By breezes whispering of his native land,
And on the stranger's dim and dying eye
The soft, sweet pictures of his childhood lie.

Joy then for Weetamoo, to sit once more
A child upon her father's wigwam floor!
Once more with her old fondness to beguile
From his cold eye the strange light of a smile.

The long, bright days of summer swiftly passed,
The dry leaves whirled in autumn's rising blast,
And evening cloud and whitening sunrise rime
Told of the coming of the winter-time.

But vainly looked, the while, young Weetamoo,
Down the dark river for her chief's canoe;
No dusky messenger from Saugus brought
The grateful tidings which the young wife sought.

At length a runner from her father sent,
To Winnepurkit's sea-cooled wigwam went
'Eagle of Saugus,—in the woods the dove
Mourns for the shelter of thy wings of love.'

But the dark chief of Saugus turned aside
In the grim anger of hard-hearted pride;
I bore her as became a chieftain's daughter,
Up to her home beside the gliding water.

If now no more a mat for her is found
Of all which line her father's wigwam round,
Let Pennacook call out his warrior train,
And send her back with wampum gifts again.'

The baffled runner turned upon his track,
Bearing the words of Winnepurkit back.
'Dog of the Marsh,' cried Pennacook, 'no more
Shall child of mine sit on his wigwam floor.

'Go, let him seek some meaner squaw to spread
The stolen bear-skin of his beggar's bed;
Son of a fish-hawk! let him dig his clams
For some vile daughter of the Agawams,

'Or coward Nipmucks! may his scalp dry black
In Mohawk smoke, before I send her back.'
He shook his clenched hand towards the ocean wave,
While hoarse assent his listening council gave.

Alas poor bride! can thy grim sire impart
His iron hardness to thy woman's heart?
Or cold self-torturing pride like his atone
For love denied and life's warm beauty flown?

On Autumn's gray and mournful grave the snow
Hung its white wreaths; with stifled voice and low
The river crept, by one vast bridge o'er-crossed,
Built by the boar-locked artisan of Frost.

And many a moon in beauty newly born
Pierced the red sunset with her silver horn,
Or, from the east, across her azure field
Rolled the wide brightness of her full-orbed shield.

Yet Winnepurkit came not,—on the mat
Of the scorned wife her dusky rival sat;
And he, the while, in Western woods afar,
Urged the long chase, or trod the path of war.

Dry up thy tears, young daughter of a chief!
Waste not on him the sacredness of grief;
Be the fierce spirit of thy sire thine own,
His lips of scorning, and his heart of stone.

What heeds the warrior of a hundred fights,
The storm-worn watcher through long hunting nights,
Cold, crafty, proud of woman's weak distress,
Her home-bound grief and pining loneliness?


VII. THE DEPARTURE

The wild March rains had fallen fast and long
The snowy mountains of the North among,
Making each vale a watercourse, each hill
Bright with the cascade of some new-made rill.

Gnawed by the sunbeams, softened by the rain,
Heaved underneath by the swollen current's strain,
The ice-bridge yielded, and the Merrimac
Bore the huge ruin crashing down its track.

On that strong turbid water, a small boat
Guided by one weak hand was seen to float;
Evil the fate which loosed it from the shore,
Too early voyager with too frail an oar!

Down the vexed centre of that rushing tide,
The thick huge ice-blocks threatening either side,
The foam-white rocks of Amoskeag in view,
With arrowy swiftness sped that light canoe.

The trapper, moistening his moose's meat
On the wet bank by Uncanoonuc's feet,
Saw the swift boat flash down the troubled stream;
Slept he, or waked he? was it truth or dream?

The straining eye bent fearfully before,
The small hand clenching on the useless oar,
The bead-wrought blanket trailing o'er the water
He knew them all—woe for the Sachem's daughter!

Sick and aweary of her lonely life,
Heedless of peril, the still faithful wife
Had left her mother's grave, her father's door,
To seek the wigwam of her chief once more.

Down the white rapids like a sear leaf whirled,
On the sharp rocks and piled-up ices hurled,
Empty and broken, circled the canoe
In the vexed pool below—but where was Weetamoo.

VIII. SONG OF INDIAN WOMEN

The Dark eye has left us,
The Spring-bird has flown;
On the pathway of spirits
She wanders alone.
The song of the wood-dove has died on our shore
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We hear it no more!

O dark water Spirit
We cast on thy wave
These furs which may never
Hang over her grave;
Bear down to the lost one the robes that she wore
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!

Of the strange land she walks in
No Powah has told:
It may burn with the sunshine,
Or freeze with the cold.
Let us give to our lost one the robes that she wore:
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!

The path she is treading
Shall soon be our own;
Each gliding in shadow
Unseen and alone!
In vain shall we call on the souls gone before:
Mat wonck kunna-monee! They hear us no more!

O mighty Sowanna!
Thy gateways unfold,
From thy wigwam of sunset
Lift curtains of gold!

Take home the poor Spirit whose journey is o'er
Mat wonck kunna-monee! We see her no more!

So sang the Children of the Leaves beside
The broad, dark river's coldly flowing tide;
Now low, now harsh, with sob-like pause and swell,
On the high wind their voices rose and fell.
Nature's wild music,—sounds of wind-swept trees,
The scream of birds, the wailing of the breeze,
The roar of waters, steady, deep, and strong,—
Mingled and murmured in that farewell song.

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Georgic 3

Thee too, great Pales, will I hymn, and thee,
Amphrysian shepherd, worthy to be sung,
You, woods and waves Lycaean. All themes beside,
Which else had charmed the vacant mind with song,
Are now waxed common. Of harsh Eurystheus who
The story knows not, or that praiseless king
Busiris, and his altars? or by whom
Hath not the tale been told of Hylas young,
Latonian Delos and Hippodame,
And Pelops for his ivory shoulder famed,
Keen charioteer? Needs must a path be tried,
By which I too may lift me from the dust,
And float triumphant through the mouths of men.
Yea, I shall be the first, so life endure,
To lead the Muses with me, as I pass
To mine own country from the Aonian height;
I, Mantua, first will bring thee back the palms
Of Idumaea, and raise a marble shrine
On thy green plain fast by the water-side,
Where Mincius winds more vast in lazy coils,
And rims his margent with the tender reed.
Amid my shrine shall Caesar's godhead dwell.
To him will I, as victor, bravely dight
In Tyrian purple, drive along the bank
A hundred four-horse cars. All Greece for me,
Leaving Alpheus and Molorchus' grove,
On foot shall strive, or with the raw-hide glove;
Whilst I, my head with stripped green olive crowned,
Will offer gifts. Even 'tis present joy
To lead the high processions to the fane,
And view the victims felled; or how the scene
Sunders with shifted face, and Britain's sons
Inwoven thereon with those proud curtains rise.
Of gold and massive ivory on the doors
I'll trace the battle of the Gangarides,
And our Quirinus' conquering arms, and there
Surging with war, and hugely flowing, the Nile,
And columns heaped on high with naval brass.
And Asia's vanquished cities I will add,
And quelled Niphates, and the Parthian foe,
Who trusts in flight and backward-volleying darts,
And trophies torn with twice triumphant hand
From empires twain on ocean's either shore.
And breathing forms of Parian marble there
Shall stand, the offspring of Assaracus,
And great names of the Jove-descended folk,
And father Tros, and Troy's first founder, lord
Of Cynthus. And accursed Envy there
Shall dread the Furies, and thy ruthless flood,
Cocytus, and Ixion's twisted snakes,
And that vast wheel and ever-baffling stone.
Meanwhile the Dryad-haunted woods and lawns
Unsullied seek we; 'tis thy hard behest,
Maecenas. Without thee no lofty task
My mind essays. Up! break the sluggish bonds
Of tarriance; with loud din Cithaeron calls,
Steed-taming Epidaurus, and thy hounds,
Taygete; and hark! the assenting groves
With peal on peal reverberate the roar.
Yet must I gird me to rehearse ere long
The fiery fights of Caesar, speed his name
Through ages, countless as to Caesar's self
From the first birth-dawn of Tithonus old.
If eager for the prized Olympian palm
One breed the horse, or bullock strong to plough,
Be his prime care a shapely dam to choose.
Of kine grim-faced is goodliest, with coarse head
And burly neck, whose hanging dewlaps reach
From chin to knee; of boundless length her flank;
Large every way she is, large-footed even,
With incurved horns and shaggy ears beneath.
Nor let mislike me one with spots of white
Conspicuous, or that spurns the yoke, whose horn
At times hath vice in't: liker bull-faced she,
And tall-limbed wholly, and with tip of tail
Brushing her footsteps as she walks along.
The age for Hymen's rites, Lucina's pangs,
Ere ten years ended, after four begins;
Their residue of days nor apt to teem,
Nor strong for ploughing. Meantime, while youth's delight
Survives within them, loose the males: be first
To speed thy herds of cattle to their loves,
Breed stock with stock, and keep the race supplied.
Ah! life's best hours are ever first to fly
From hapless mortals; in their place succeed
Disease and dolorous eld; till travail sore
And death unpitying sweep them from the scene.
Still will be some, whose form thou fain wouldst change;
Renew them still; with yearly choice of young
Preventing losses, lest too late thou rue.
Nor steeds crave less selection; but on those
Thou think'st to rear, the promise of their line,
From earliest youth thy chiefest pains bestow.
See from the first yon high-bred colt afield,
His lofty step, his limbs' elastic tread:
Dauntless he leads the herd, still first to try
The threatening flood, or brave the unknown bridge,
By no vain noise affrighted; lofty-necked,
With clean-cut head, short belly, and stout back;
His sprightly breast exuberant with brawn.
Chestnut and grey are good; the worst-hued white
And sorrel. Then lo! if arms are clashed afar,
Bide still he cannot: ears stiffen and limbs quake;
His nostrils snort and roll out wreaths of fire.
Dense is his mane, that when uplifted falls
On his right shoulder; betwixt either loin
The spine runs double; his earth-dinting hoof
Rings with the ponderous beat of solid horn.
Even such a horse was Cyllarus, reined and tamed
By Pollux of Amyclae; such the pair
In Grecian song renowned, those steeds of Mars,
And famed Achilles' team: in such-like form
Great Saturn's self with mane flung loose on neck
Sped at his wife's approach, and flying filled
The heights of Pelion with his piercing neigh.
Even him, when sore disease or sluggish eld
Now saps his strength, pen fast at home, and spare
His not inglorious age. A horse grown old
Slow kindling unto love in vain prolongs
The fruitless task, and, to the encounter come,
As fire in stubble blusters without strength,
He rages idly. Therefore mark thou first
Their age and mettle, other points anon,
As breed and lineage, or what pain was theirs
To lose the race, what pride the palm to win.
Seest how the chariots in mad rivalry
Poured from the barrier grip the course and go,
When youthful hope is highest, and every heart
Drained with each wild pulsation? How they ply
The circling lash, and reaching forward let
The reins hang free! Swift spins the glowing wheel;
And now they stoop, and now erect in air
Seem borne through space and towering to the sky:
No stop, no stay; the dun sand whirls aloft;
They reek with foam-flakes and pursuing breath;
So sweet is fame, so prized the victor's palm.
'Twas Ericthonius first took heart to yoke
Four horses to his car, and rode above
The whirling wheels to victory: but the ring
And bridle-reins, mounted on horses' backs,
The Pelethronian Lapithae bequeathed,
And taught the knight in arms to spurn the ground,
And arch the upgathered footsteps of his pride.
Each task alike is arduous, and for each
A horse young, fiery, swift of foot, they seek;
How oft so-e'er yon rival may have chased
The flying foe, or boast his native plain
Epirus, or Mycenae's stubborn hold,
And trace his lineage back to Neptune's birth.
These points regarded, as the time draws nigh,
With instant zeal they lavish all their care
To plump with solid fat the chosen chief
And designated husband of the herd:
And flowery herbs they cut, and serve him well
With corn and running water, that his strength
Not fail him for that labour of delight,
Nor puny colts betray the feeble sire.
The herd itself of purpose they reduce
To leanness, and when love's sweet longing first
Provokes them, they forbid the leafy food,
And pen them from the springs, and oft beside
With running shake, and tire them in the sun,
What time the threshing-floor groans heavily
With pounding of the corn-ears, and light chaff
Is whirled on high to catch the rising west.
This do they that the soil's prolific powers
May not be dulled by surfeiting, nor choke
The sluggish furrows, but eagerly absorb
Their fill of love, and deeply entertain.
To care of sire the mother's care succeeds.
When great with young they wander nigh their time,
Let no man suffer them to drag the yoke
In heavy wains, nor leap across the way,
Nor scour the meads, nor swim the rushing flood.
In lonely lawns they feed them, by the course
Of brimming streams, where moss is, and the banks
With grass are greenest, where are sheltering caves,
And far outstretched the rock-flung shadow lies.
Round wooded Silarus and the ilex-bowers
Of green Alburnus swarms a winged pest-
Its Roman name Asilus, by the Greeks
Termed Oestros- fierce it is, and harshly hums,
Driving whole herds in terror through the groves,
Till heaven is madded by their bellowing din,
And Tanager's dry bed and forest-banks.
With this same scourge did Juno wreak of old
The terrors of her wrath, a plague devised
Against the heifer sprung from Inachus.
From this too thou, since in the noontide heats
'Tis most persistent, fend thy teeming herds,
And feed them when the sun is newly risen,
Or the first stars are ushering in the night.
But, yeaning ended, all their tender care
Is to the calves transferred; at once with marks
They brand them, both to designate their race,
And which to rear for breeding, or devote
As altar-victims, or to cleave the ground
And into ridges tear and turn the sod.
The rest along the greensward graze at will.
Those that to rustic uses thou wouldst mould,
As calves encourage and take steps to tame,
While pliant wills and plastic youth allow.
And first of slender withies round the throat
Loose collars hang, then when their free-born necks
Are used to service, with the self-same bands
Yoke them in pairs, and steer by steer compel
Keep pace together. And time it is that oft
Unfreighted wheels be drawn along the ground
Behind them, as to dint the surface-dust;
Then let the beechen axle strain and creak
'Neath some stout burden, whilst a brazen pole
Drags on the wheels made fast thereto. Meanwhile
For their unbroken youth not grass alone,
Nor meagre willow-leaves and marish-sedge,
But corn-ears with thy hand pluck from the crops.
Nor shall the brood-kine, as of yore, for thee
Brim high the snowy milking-pail, but spend
Their udders' fullness on their own sweet young.
But if fierce squadrons and the ranks of war
Delight thee rather, or on wheels to glide
At Pisa, with Alpheus fleeting by,
And in the grove of Jupiter urge on
The flying chariot, be your steed's first task
To face the warrior's armed rage, and brook
The trumpet, and long roar of rumbling wheels,
And clink of chiming bridles in the stall;
Then more and more to love his master's voice
Caressing, or loud hand that claps his neck.
Ay, thus far let him learn to dare, when first
Weaned from his mother, and his mouth at times
Yield to the supple halter, even while yet
Weak, tottering-limbed, and ignorant of life.
But, three years ended, when the fourth arrives,
Now let him tarry not to run the ring
With rhythmic hoof-beat echoing, and now learn
Alternately to curve each bending leg,
And be like one that struggleth; then at last
Challenge the winds to race him, and at speed
Launched through the open, like a reinless thing,
Scarce print his footsteps on the surface-sand.
As when with power from Hyperborean climes
The north wind stoops, and scatters from his path
Dry clouds and storms of Scythia; the tall corn
And rippling plains 'gin shiver with light gusts;
A sound is heard among the forest-tops;
Long waves come racing shoreward: fast he flies,
With instant pinion sweeping earth and main.
A steed like this or on the mighty course
Of Elis at the goal will sweat, and shower
Red foam-flakes from his mouth, or, kindlier task,
With patient neck support the Belgian car.
Then, broken at last, let swell their burly frame
With fattening corn-mash, for, unbroke, they will
With pride wax wanton, and, when caught, refuse
Tough lash to brook or jagged curb obey.
But no device so fortifies their power
As love's blind stings of passion to forefend,
Whether on steed or steer thy choice be set.
Ay, therefore 'tis they banish bulls afar
To solitary pastures, or behind
Some mountain-barrier, or broad streams beyond,
Or else in plenteous stalls pen fast at home.
For, even through sight of her, the female wastes
His strength with smouldering fire, till he forget
Both grass and woodland. She indeed full oft
With her sweet charms can lovers proud compel
To battle for the conquest horn to horn.
In Sila's forest feeds the heifer fair,
While each on each the furious rivals run;
Wound follows wound; the black blood laves their limbs;
Horns push and strive against opposing horns,
With mighty groaning; all the forest-side
And far Olympus bellow back the roar.
Nor wont the champions in one stall to couch;
But he that's worsted hies him to strange climes
Far off, an exile, moaning much the shame,
The blows of that proud conqueror, then love's loss
Avenged not; with one glance toward the byre,
His ancient royalties behind him lie.
So with all heed his strength he practiseth,
And nightlong makes the hard bare stones his bed,
And feeds on prickly leaf and pointed rush,
And proves himself, and butting at a tree
Learns to fling wrath into his horns, with blows
Provokes the air, and scattering clouds of sand
Makes prelude of the battle; afterward,
With strength repaired and gathered might breaks camp,
And hurls him headlong on the unthinking foe:
As in mid ocean when a wave far of
Begins to whiten, mustering from the main
Its rounded breast, and, onward rolled to land
Falls with prodigious roar among the rocks,
Huge as a very mountain: but the depths
Upseethe in swirling eddies, and disgorge
The murky sand-lees from their sunken bed.
Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,
And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,
Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.
Never than then more fiercely o'er the plain
Prowls heedless of her whelps the lioness:
Nor monstrous bears such wide-spread havoc-doom
Deal through the forests; then the boar is fierce,
Most deadly then the tigress: then, alack!
Ill roaming is it on Libya's lonely plains.
Mark you what shivering thrills the horse's frame,
If but a waft the well-known gust conveys?
Nor curb can check them then, nor lash severe,
Nor rocks and caverned crags, nor barrier-floods,
That rend and whirl and wash the hills away.
Then speeds amain the great Sabellian boar,
His tushes whets, with forefoot tears the ground,
Rubs 'gainst a tree his flanks, and to and fro
Hardens each wallowing shoulder to the wound.
What of the youth, when love's relentless might
Stirs the fierce fire within his veins? Behold!
In blindest midnight how he swims the gulf
Convulsed with bursting storm-clouds! Over him
Heaven's huge gate thunders; the rock-shattered main
Utters a warning cry; nor parents' tears
Can backward call him, nor the maid he loves,
Too soon to die on his untimely pyre.
What of the spotted ounce to Bacchus dear,
Or warlike wolf-kin or the breed of dogs?
Why tell how timorous stags the battle join?
O'er all conspicuous is the rage of mares,
By Venus' self inspired of old, what time
The Potnian four with rending jaws devoured
The limbs of Glaucus. Love-constrained they roam
Past Gargarus, past the loud Ascanian flood;
They climb the mountains, and the torrents swim;
And when their eager marrow first conceives
The fire, in Spring-tide chiefly, for with Spring
Warmth doth their frames revisit, then they stand
All facing westward on the rocky heights,
And of the gentle breezes take their fill;
And oft unmated, marvellous to tell,
But of the wind impregnate, far and wide
O'er craggy height and lowly vale they scud,
Not toward thy rising, Eurus, or the sun's,
But westward and north-west, or whence up-springs
Black Auster, that glooms heaven with rainy cold.
Hence from their groin slow drips a poisonous juice,
By shepherds truly named hippomanes,
Hippomanes, fell stepdames oft have culled,
And mixed with herbs and spells of baneful bode.
Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour,
As point to point our charmed round we trace.
Enough of herds. This second task remains,
The wool-clad flocks and shaggy goats to treat.
Here lies a labour; hence for glory look,
Brave husbandmen. Nor doubtfully know
How hard it is for words to triumph here,
And shed their lustre on a theme so slight:
But I am caught by ravishing desire
Above the lone Parnassian steep; I love
To walk the heights, from whence no earlier track
Slopes gently downward to Castalia's spring.
Now, awful Pales, strike a louder tone.
First, for the sheep soft pencotes I decree
To browse in, till green summer's swift return;
And that the hard earth under them with straw
And handfuls of the fern be littered deep,
Lest chill of ice such tender cattle harm
With scab and loathly foot-rot. Passing thence
I bid the goats with arbute-leaves be stored,
And served with fresh spring-water, and their pens
Turned southward from the blast, to face the suns
Of winter, when Aquarius' icy beam
Now sinks in showers upon the parting year.
These too no lightlier our protection claim,
Nor prove of poorer service, howsoe'er
Milesian fleeces dipped in Tyrian reds
Repay the barterer; these with offspring teem
More numerous; these yield plenteous store of milk:
The more each dry-wrung udder froths the pail,
More copious soon the teat-pressed torrents flow.
Ay, and on Cinyps' bank the he-goats too
Their beards and grizzled chins and bristling hair
Let clip for camp-use, or as rugs to wrap
Seafaring wretches. But they browse the woods
And summits of Lycaeus, and rough briers,
And brakes that love the highland: of themselves
Right heedfully the she-goats homeward troop
Before their kids, and with plump udders clogged
Scarce cross the threshold. Wherefore rather ye,
The less they crave man's vigilance, be fain
From ice to fend them and from snowy winds;
Bring food and feast them with their branchy fare,
Nor lock your hay-loft all the winter long.
But when glad summer at the west wind's call
Sends either flock to pasture in the glades,
Soon as the day-star shineth, hie we then
To the cool meadows, while the dawn is young,
The grass yet hoary, and to browsing herds
The dew tastes sweetest on the tender sward.
When heaven's fourth hour draws on the thickening drought,
And shrill cicalas pierce the brake with song,
Then at the well-springs bid them, or deep pools,
From troughs of holm-oak quaff the running wave:
But at day's hottest seek a shadowy vale,
Where some vast ancient-timbered oak of Jove
Spreads his huge branches, or where huddling black
Ilex on ilex cowers in awful shade.
Then once more give them water sparingly,
And feed once more, till sunset, when cool eve
Allays the air, and dewy moonbeams slake
The forest glades, with halcyon's song the shore,
And every thicket with the goldfinch rings.
Of Libya's shepherds why the tale pursue?
Why sing their pastures and the scattered huts
They house in? Oft their cattle day and night
Graze the whole month together, and go forth
Into far deserts where no shelter is,
So flat the plain and boundless. All his goods
The Afric swain bears with him, house and home,
Arms, Cretan quiver, and Amyclaean dog;
As some keen Roman in his country's arms
Plies the swift march beneath a cruel load;
Soon with tents pitched and at his post he stands,
Ere looked for by the foe. Not thus the tribes
Of Scythia by the far Maeotic wave,
Where turbid Ister whirls his yellow sands,
And Rhodope stretched out beneath the pole
Comes trending backward. There the herds they keep
Close-pent in byres, nor any grass is seen
Upon the plain, nor leaves upon the tree:
But with snow-ridges and deep frost afar
Heaped seven ells high the earth lies featureless:
Still winter? still the north wind's icy breath!
Nay, never sun disparts the shadows pale,
Or as he rides the steep of heaven, or dips
In ocean's fiery bath his plunging car.
Quick ice-crusts curdle on the running stream,
And iron-hooped wheels the water's back now bears,
To broad wains opened, as erewhile to ships;
Brass vessels oft asunder burst, and clothes
Stiffen upon the wearers; juicy wines
They cleave with axes; to one frozen mass
Whole pools are turned; and on their untrimmed beards
Stiff clings the jagged icicle. Meanwhile
All heaven no less is filled with falling snow;
The cattle perish: oxen's mighty frames
Stand island-like amid the frost, and stags
In huddling herds, by that strange weight benumbed,
Scarce top the surface with their antler-points.
These with no hounds they hunt, nor net with toils,
Nor scare with terror of the crimson plume;
But, as in vain they breast the opposing block,
Butcher them, knife in hand, and so dispatch
Loud-bellowing, and with glad shouts hale them home.
Themselves in deep-dug caverns underground
Dwell free and careless; to their hearths they heave
Oak-logs and elm-trees whole, and fire them there,
There play the night out, and in festive glee
With barm and service sour the wine-cup mock.
So 'neath the seven-starred Hyperborean wain
The folk live tameless, buffeted with blasts
Of Eurus from Rhipaean hills, and wrap
Their bodies in the tawny fells of beasts.
If wool delight thee, first, be far removed
All prickly boskage, burrs and caltrops; shun
Luxuriant pastures; at the outset choose
White flocks with downy fleeces. For the ram,
How white soe'er himself, be but the tongue
'Neath his moist palate black, reject him, lest
He sully with dark spots his offspring's fleece,
And seek some other o'er the teeming plain.
Even with such snowy bribe of wool, if ear
May trust the tale, Pan, God of Arcady,
Snared and beguiled thee, Luna, calling thee
To the deep woods; nor thou didst spurn his call.
But who for milk hath longing, must himself
Carry lucerne and lotus-leaves enow
With salt herbs to the cote, whence more they love
The streams, more stretch their udders, and give back
A subtle taste of saltness in the milk.
Many there be who from their mothers keep
The new-born kids, and straightway bind their mouths
With iron-tipped muzzles. What they milk at dawn,
Or in the daylight hours, at night they press;
What darkling or at sunset, this ere morn
They bear away in baskets- for to town
The shepherd hies him- or with dash of salt
Just sprinkle, and lay by for winter use.
Nor be thy dogs last cared for; but alike
Swift Spartan hounds and fierce Molossian feed
On fattening whey. Never, with these to watch,
Dread nightly thief afold and ravening wolves,
Or Spanish desperadoes in the rear.
And oft the shy wild asses thou wilt chase,
With hounds, too, hunt the hare, with hounds the doe;
Oft from his woodland wallowing-den uprouse
The boar, and scare him with their baying, and drive,
And o'er the mountains urge into the toils
Some antlered monster to their chiming cry.
Learn also scented cedar-wood to burn
Within the stalls, and snakes of noxious smell
With fumes of galbanum to drive away.
Oft under long-neglected cribs, or lurks
A viper ill to handle, that hath fled
The light in terror, or some snake, that wont
'Neath shade and sheltering roof to creep, and shower
Its bane among the cattle, hugs the ground,
Fell scourge of kine. Shepherd, seize stakes, seize stones!
And as he rears defiance, and puffs out
A hissing throat, down with him! see how low
That cowering crest is vailed in flight, the while,
His midmost coils and final sweep of tail
Relaxing, the last fold drags lingering spires.
Then that vile worm that in Calabrian glades
Uprears his breast, and wreathes a scaly back,
His length of belly pied with mighty spots-
While from their founts gush any streams, while yet
With showers of Spring and rainy south-winds earth
Is moistened, lo! he haunts the pools, and here
Housed in the banks, with fish and chattering frogs
Crams the black void of his insatiate maw.
Soon as the fens are parched, and earth with heat
Is gaping, forth he darts into the dry,
Rolls eyes of fire and rages through the fields,
Furious from thirst and by the drought dismayed.
Me list not then beneath the open heaven
To snatch soft slumber, nor on forest-ridge
Lie stretched along the grass, when, slipped his slough,
To glittering youth transformed he winds his spires,
And eggs or younglings leaving in his lair,
Towers sunward, lightening with three-forked tongue.
Of sickness, too, the causes and the signs
I'll teach thee. Loathly scab assails the sheep,
When chilly showers have probed them to the quick,
And winter stark with hoar-frost, or when sweat
Unpurged cleaves to them after shearing done,
And rough thorns rend their bodies. Hence it is
Shepherds their whole flock steep in running streams,
While, plunged beneath the flood, with drenched fell,
The ram, launched free, goes drifting down the tide.
Else, having shorn, they smear their bodies o'er
With acrid oil-lees, and mix silver-scum
And native sulphur and Idaean pitch,
Wax mollified with ointment, and therewith
Sea-leek, strong hellebores, bitumen black.
Yet ne'er doth kindlier fortune crown his toil,
Than if with blade of iron a man dare lance
The ulcer's mouth ope: for the taint is fed
And quickened by confinement; while the swain
His hand of healing from the wound withholds,
Or sits for happier signs imploring heaven.
Aye, and when inward to the bleater's bones
The pain hath sunk and rages, and their limbs
By thirsty fever are consumed, 'tis good
To draw the enkindled heat therefrom, and pierce
Within the hoof-clefts a blood-bounding vein.
Of tribes Bisaltic such the wonted use,
And keen Gelonian, when to Rhodope
He flies, or Getic desert, and quaffs milk
With horse-blood curdled.
Seest one far afield
Oft to the shade's mild covert win, or pull
The grass tops listlessly, or hindmost lag,
Or, browsing, cast her down amid the plain,
At night retire belated and alone;
With quick knife check the mischief, ere it creep
With dire contagion through the unwary herd.
Less thick and fast the whirlwind scours the main
With tempest in its wake, than swarm the plagues
Of cattle; nor seize they single lives alone,
But sudden clear whole feeding grounds, the flock
With all its promise, and extirpate the breed.
Well would he trow it who, so long after, still
High Alps and Noric hill-forts should behold,
And Iapydian Timavus' fields,
Ay, still behold the shepherds' realms a waste,
And far and wide the lawns untenanted.
Here from distempered heavens erewhile arose
A piteous season, with the full fierce heat
Of autumn glowed, and cattle-kindreds all
And all wild creatures to destruction gave,
Tainted the pools, the fodder charged with bane.
Nor simple was the way of death, but when
Hot thirst through every vein impelled had drawn
Their wretched limbs together, anon o'erflowed
A watery flux, and all their bones piecemeal
Sapped by corruption to itself absorbed.
Oft in mid sacrifice to heaven- the white
Wool-woven fillet half wreathed about his brow-
Some victim, standing by the altar, there
Betwixt the loitering carles a-dying fell:
Or, if betimes the slaughtering priest had struck,
Nor with its heaped entrails blazed the pile,
Nor seer to seeker thence could answer yield;
Nay, scarce the up-stabbing knife with blood was stained,
Scarce sullied with thin gore the surface-sand.
Hence die the calves in many a pasture fair,
Or at full cribs their lives' sweet breath resign;
Hence on the fawning dog comes madness, hence
Racks the sick swine a gasping cough that chokes
With swelling at the jaws: the conquering steed,
Uncrowned of effort and heedless of the sward,
Faints, turns him from the springs, and paws the earth
With ceaseless hoof: low droop his ears, wherefrom
Bursts fitful sweat, a sweat that waxes cold
Upon the dying beast; the skin is dry,
And rigidly repels the handler's touch.
These earlier signs they give that presage doom.
But, if the advancing plague 'gin fiercer grow,
Then are their eyes all fire, deep-drawn their breath,
At times groan-laboured: with long sobbing heave
Their lowest flanks; from either nostril streams
Black blood; a rough tongue clogs the obstructed jaws.
'Twas helpful through inverted horn to pour
Draughts of the wine-god down; sole way it seemed
To save the dying: soon this too proved their bane,
And, reinvigorate but with frenzy's fire,
Even at death's pinch- the gods some happier fate
Deal to the just, such madness to their foes-
Each with bared teeth his own limbs mangling tore.
See! as he smokes beneath the stubborn share,
The bull drops, vomiting foam-dabbled gore,
And heaves his latest groans. Sad goes the swain,
Unhooks the steer that mourns his fellow's fate,
And in mid labour leaves the plough-gear fast.
Nor tall wood's shadow, nor soft sward may stir
That heart's emotion, nor rock-channelled flood,
More pure than amber speeding to the plain:
But see! his flanks fail under him, his eyes
Are dulled with deadly torpor, and his neck
Sinks to the earth with drooping weight. What now
Besteads him toil or service? to have turned
The heavy sod with ploughshare? And yet these
Ne'er knew the Massic wine-god's baneful boon,
Nor twice replenished banquets: but on leaves
They fare, and virgin grasses, and their cups
Are crystal springs and streams with running tired,
Their healthful slumbers never broke by care.
Then only, say they, through that country side
For Juno's rites were cattle far to seek,
And ill-matched buffaloes the chariots drew
To their high fanes. So, painfully with rakes
They grub the soil, aye, with their very nails
Dig in the corn-seeds, and with strained neck
O'er the high uplands drag the creaking wains.
No wolf for ambush pries about the pen,
Nor round the flock prowls nightly; pain more sharp
Subdues him: the shy deer and fleet-foot stags
With hounds now wander by the haunts of men
Vast ocean's offspring, and all tribes that swim,
On the shore's confine the wave washes up,
Like shipwrecked bodies: seals, unwonted there,
Flee to the rivers. Now the viper dies,
For all his den's close winding, and with scales
Erect the astonied water-worms. The air
Brooks not the very birds, that headlong fall,
And leave their life beneath the soaring cloud.
Moreover now nor change of fodder serves,
And subtlest cures but injure; then were foiled
The masters, Chiron sprung from Phillyron,
And Amythaon's son Melampus. See!
From Stygian darkness launched into the light
Comes raging pale Tisiphone; she drives
Disease and fear before her, day by day
Still rearing higher that all-devouring head.
With bleat of flocks and lowings thick resound
Rivers and parched banks and sloping heights.
At last in crowds she slaughters them, she chokes
The very stalls with carrion-heaps that rot
In hideous corruption, till men learn
With earth to cover them, in pits to hide.
For e'en the fells are useless; nor the flesh
With water may they purge, or tame with fire,
Nor shear the fleeces even, gnawed through and through
With foul disease, nor touch the putrid webs;
But, had one dared the loathly weeds to try,
Red blisters and an unclean sweat o'erran
His noisome limbs, till, no long tarriance made,
The fiery curse his tainted frame devoured.

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Solomon on the Vanity of the World, A Poem. In Three Books. - Knowledge. Book I.

The bewailing of man's miseries hath been elegantly and copiously set forth by many, in the writings as well of philosophers as divines; and it is both a pleasant and a profitable contemplation.
~
Lord Bacon's Advancement of Learning.


The Argument

Solomon, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals and man; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situation of the habitable earth: proceeds to examine the system of the visible heaven: doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds; inquires into the nature of spirits and angels, and wishes to be more fully informed as to the attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the Rabbins and Doctors; blames his own curiosity: and concludes that, as to human science, All Is Vanity.


Ye sons of men with just regard attend,
Observe the preacher, and believe the friend,
Whose serious muse inspires him to explain
That all we act and all we think is vain:
That in this pilgrimage of seventy years,
O'er rocks of perils and through vales of tears
Destined to march, our doubtful steps we tend,
Tired with the toil, yet fearful of its end:
That from the womb we take our fatal shares
Of follies, passions, labours, tumults, cares;
And at approach of death shall only know
The truths which from these pensive numbers flow,
That we pursue false joy and suffer real wo.

Happiness! object of that waking dream
Which we call life, mistaking; fugitive theme
Of my pursuing verse: ideal shade,
Notional good; by fancy only made,
And by tradition nursed; fallacious fire,
Whose dancing beams mislead our fond desire;
Cause of our care, and error of our mind:
Oh! hadst thou ever been by Heaven design'd
To Adam, and his mortal race, the boon
Entire had been reserved for Solomon;
On me the partial lot had been bestow'd,
And in my cup the golden draught had flow'd.

But, O! ere yet original man was made,
Ere the foundations of this earth were laid,
It was opponent to our search ordain'd,
That joy still sought should never be attain'd:
This sad experience cites me to reveal,
And what I dictate is from what I feel.

Born, as I as, great David's favourite son,
Dear to my people on the Hebrew throne,
Sublime my court, with Ophir's treasures bless'd.
My name extended to the farthest east,
My body clothed with every outward grace,
Strength in my limbs, and beauty in my face,
My shining thought with fruitful notions crown'd,
Quick my invention, and my judgement sound:
Arise, (I communed with myself) arise,
Think to be happy; to be great be wise;
Content of spirit must from science flow,
For 'tis a godlike attribute to know.

I said, and sent my edict through the land;
Around my throne the letter'd Rabbins stand,
Historic leaves revolve, long volumes spread,
The old discoursing as the younger read!
Attend I heard, proposed my doubts, and said:

The vegetable world, each plant and tree,
Its seed, its name, its nature, its degree,
I am allow'd, as Fame reports, to know,
From the fair cedar on the craggy brow
Of Lebanon nodding supremely tall,
To creeping moss, and hyssop on the wall;
Yet just and conscious to myself, I find
A thousand doubts oppose the searching mind.

I know not why the beach delights the glade,
With boughs extended and a rounder shade,
Whilst towering firs in conic forms arise,
And with a pointed spear divide the skies:
Nor why again the changing oak should shell
The yearly honour of his stately head,
Whilst the distinguish'd yew is ever seen
Unchanged his branch, and permanent his green;
Wanting the sun why does the caltha fade?
Why does the cypress flourish in the shade?
The fig and date, why love they to remain
In middle station and an even plain,
While in the lower marsh the gourd is found,
And while the hill with olive shade is crown'd?
Why does one climate and one soil endue
The blushing poppy with a crimson hue,
Yet leave the lily pale, and tinge the violet blue?
Why does the fond carnation love to shoot
A various colour from one parent root,
While the fantastic tulip strives to break
In twofold beauty and a parted streak?
The twining jasmine and the blushing rose
With lavish grace their morning scents disclose;
The smelling tuberose and jonquil declare,
The stronger impulse of an evening air.
Whence has the tree (resolve me) or the flower
A various instinct or a different power?
Why should one earth, one clime, one stream, one breath,
Raise this to strength, and sicken that to death?
Whence does it happen that the plant, which well
We name the sensitive, should move and feel?
Whence know her leaves to answer her command,
And with quick horror fly the neighbouring hand?

Along the sunny bank or watery mead
Ten thousand stalks their various blossoms spread;
Peaceful and lowly, in their native soil,
They neither know to spin nor care to toil,
Yet with confess'd magnificence deride
Our vile attire and impotence of pride.
The cowslip smiles in brighter yellow dress'd
Than that which veils the nubile virgin's breast;
A fairer red stands blushing in the rose
Than that which on the bridegroom's vestment flows.
Take but the humblest lily of the field,
And if our pride will to our reason yield,
It must by sure comparison be shown,
That on the regal seat great David's son,
Array'd in all his robes and types of power,
Shines with less glory than that simple flower.

Of fishes next, my friends, I would inquire:
How the mute race engender or respire,
From the small fry that glide on Jordan's stream
Unmark'd a multitude without a name,
To that leviathan, who o'er the seas
Immense rolls onward his impetuous ways,
And mocks the wind, and in the tempest plays?
How they in warlike bands march greatly forth,
To southern climes directing their career,
Their station changing with th' inverted year?
How all with careful knowledge are endued,
To choose their proper bed, and wave, and food;
To guard their spawn, and educate their brood?

Of birds, how each, according to her kind,
Proper materials for her nest can find,
And build a frame which deepest thought in man
Would or amend or imitate in vain?
How in small flights they know to try their young,
And teach the callow child her parent's song?
Why these frequent the plain, and those the wood?
Why every land has her specific brood?
Where the tall crane or winding swallow goes,
Fearful of gathering winds and falling snows;
If into rocks or hollow trees they creep,
In temporary death confined to sleep,
Or, conscious of the coming evil, fly
To milder regions and a southern sky?

Of beasts and creeping insects shall we trace;
The wondrous nature and the various race;
Or wild or tame, or friend to man or foe,
Of us what they or what of them we know?

Tell me, ye Studious! who pretend to see
Far into Nature's bosom, whence the bee
Was first inform'd her venturous flight to steer
Through trackless paths and an abyss of air?
Whence she avoids the slimy marsh, and knows
The fertile hills, where sweeter herbage grows,
And honey-making flowers their opening buds disclose?

How, from the thicken'd mist and setting sun
Finds she the labour of her day is done?
Who taught her against the winds and rains to strive,
To bring her burden to the certain hive,
And through the liquid fields again to pass
Duteous, and hearkening to the sounding brass?

And, O thou Sluggard! tell me why the ant,
'Midst summer's plenty, thinks of winter's want,
By constant journeys careful to prepare
Her stores, and bringing home the corny ear,
By what instruction does she bite the grain,
Lest hid in earth, and taking root again,
It mighty elude the foresight of her care?
Distinct in either insect's deed appear
The marks of thought, contrivance, hope, and fear.

Fix thy corporeal and internal eye
On the young gnat or new-engender'd fly,
Or the vile worm, that yesterday began
To crawl, thy fellow-creatures, abject man!
Like thee they breathe, they move, they taste, they see,
They show their passions by their acts like thee;
Darting their stings, they previously declare
Design'd revenge, and fierce intent of war:
Laying their eggs, they evidently prove
The genial power and full effect of love.
Each then has organs to digest his his food,
One to beget, and one receive the brood;
Has limbs and sinews, blood, and heart, and brain,
Life and her proper functions to sustain,
Though the whole fabric smaller than a grain.
What more can our penurious reason grant
To the large whale or castled elephant?
To those enormous terrors of the Nile,
The crested snake and long-tail'd crocodile,
Than that all differ but in shape and name,
Each destined to a less or larger frame?

For potent Nature loves a various act,
Prone to enlarge, or studious to contract;
Now forms her work too small, now too immense,
And scorns the measures of our feeble sense.
The object, spread too far, or raised too high,
Denies its real image to the eye;
Too little, it eludes the dazzled sight,
Becomes mix'd blackness or unparted light.
Water and air the varied form confound;
The straight looks crooked, and the square grows round.

Thus while with fruitless hope and weary pain
We seek great nature's power, but seek in vain,
Safe sits the goddess in her dark retreat,
Around her myriads of ideas wait,
And endless shapes, which the mysterious queen
Can take or quit, can alter or retain,
As from our lost pursuit she wills to hide
Her close decrees, and chasten human pride.

Untamed and fierce the tiger still remains:
He tires his life in biting of his chains:
For the kind gifts of water and of food
Ungrateful, and returning ill for good,
He seeks his keeper's flesh and thirsts his blood:
While the strong camel and the generous horse,
Restrain'd and awed by man's inferior force,
Do to the rider's will their rage submit,
And answer to the spur, and own the bit;
Stretch their glad mouths to meet the feeder's hand,
Pleased with his weight, and proud of his command.

Again: the lonely fox roams far abroad,
On secret rapine bent and midnight fraud;
Now haunts the cliff, now traverses the lawn,
And flies the hated neighbourhood of man;
While the kind spaniel and the faithful hound,
Likest that fox in shape and species found,
Refuses through these cliffs and lawns to roam,
Pursues the noted path, and covets home,
Does with kind joy domestic faces meet,
Takes what the glutted child denies to eat,
And dying, licks his long-loved master's feet.

By what immediate cause they are inclined,
In many acts, 'tis hard I own to find.
I see in others, or I think I see,
That strict their principles and ours agree.
Evil, like us, they shun, and covet good,
Abhor the poison, and receive the food:
Like us they love or hate; like us they know
To joy the friend, or grapple with the foe,
With seeming thought their action they intend,
And use the means proportion'd to the end.
Then vainly the philosopher avers
That reason guides our deed and instinct theirs.
How can we justly different causes frame,
When the effects entirely are the same?
Instinct and reason how can we divide?
'Tis the fool's ignorance and the pedant's pride.

With the same folly sure man vaunts his sway
If the brute beast refuses to obey.
For, tell me, when the empty boaster's word
Proclaims himself the universal lord,
Does he not tremble lest the lion's paw
Should join his plea against the fancy'd law?
Would not the learned coward leave the chair,
If in the schools or porches should appear
The fierce hyaena or the foaming bear?

The combatant too late the field declines
When now the sword is girded to his loins.
When the swift vessel flies before the wind,
Too late the sailor views the land behind:
And 'tis too late now back again to bring
Inquiry, raised and towering on the wing;
Forward she strives, averse to be withheld
From nobler objects and a larger field.

Consider with me his ethereal space,
Yielding to earth and sea the middle place:
Anxious I ask ye how the pensile ball
Should never strive to rise nor never fear to fall?
When I reflect how the revolving sun
Does round our globe his crooked journeys run,
I doubt of many lands if they contain
Or herd or beast, or colonies of man:
If any nation pass their destined days
Beneath the neighbouring sun's directer rays;
If any suffer on the polar coast
The rage of Arctos and eternal frost.

May not the pleasure of Omnipotence
To each of these some secret good dispense?
Those who amidst the torrid regions live
May they not gales unknown to us receive?
See daily showers rejoice the thirsty earth,
And bless the glowery buds' succeeding birth?
May they not pity us condemn'd to bear
The various heaven of an obliquer sphere,
While, by fix'd laws, and with a just return,
They feel twelve hours that shade for twelve that burn,
And praise the neighbouring sun whose constant flame
Enlightens them with seasons still the same?
And may not those whose distant lot is cast
North, beyond Tartary's extended waste,
Where through the plains of one continual day
Six shining months pursue their even way,
And six succeeding urge their dusky flight,
Obscured with vapours, and o'erwhelm'd in night.
May not, I ask, the natives of these climes
(As annals may inform succeeding times)
To our quotidian change of heaven prefer
Their own vicissitude and equal share
Of day and night disparted through the year?
May they not scorn our sun's repeated race,
To narrow bounds prescribed and little space,
Hastening from morn, and headlong driven from noon,
Half of our daily toil yet scarcely done?
May they not justly to our climes upbraid
Shortness of night and penury of shade,
That ere our wearied limbs are justly bless'd
With wholesome sleep and necessary rest,
Another sun demands return of care,
The remnant toil of yesterday to bear?
Whilst, when the solar beams salute their sight,
Bold and secure in half a year of light,
Uninterrupted voyages they take
To the remotest wood and farthest lake,
Manage the fishing, and pursue the course
With more extended nerves and more continued force;
And when declining day forsakes their sky,
When gathering clouds speak gloomy winter nigh,
With plenty for the coming season bless'd,
Six solid months (an age) they live, released
From all the labour, process, clamour, wo,
Which our sad scenes of daily action know;
They light the shining lamps, prepare the feast,
And with full mirth receive the welcome guest,
Or tell their tender loves (the only care
Which now they suffer) to the listening fair,
And raised in pleasure, or reposed in ease,
(Grateful alternates of substantial peace)
They bless the long nocturnal influence shed
On the crown'd goblet and the genial bed.

In foreign isles which our discoverers find,
Far from this length of continent disjoin'd,
The rugged bear's or spotted lynx's brood
Frighten the valleys and infest the wood,
The hungry crocodile and hissing snake
Lurk in the troubled stream and fenny brake;
And man untaught, and ravenous as the beast,
Does valley, wood, and brake, and stream infest;
Derived these men and animals their birth
From trunk of oak or pregnant womb of earth?
Whence then the old belief, that all began
In Eden's shade and one created man?
Or grant this progeny was wafted o'er
By coasting boats from next adjacent shore,
Would those, from whom we will suppose they spring,
Slaughter to harmless lands and poison bring?
Would they on board or bears or lynxes take,
Fed the she-adder and the brooding snake?
Or could they think the new-discover'd isle
Pleased to receive a pregnant crocodile?

And since the savage lineage we must trace
From Noah saved and his distinguish'd race,
How should their fathers happen to forget
The arts which Noah taught, the rules he set,
To sow the glebe, to plant the generous vine,
And load with grateful flames the holy shrine?
While the great sire's unhappy sons are found,
Unpress'd their vintage, and untill'd their ground,
Straggling o'er dale and hill in quest of food,
And rude of arts, of virtue, and of God.

How shall we next o'er earth and seas pursue
The varied forms of every thing we view;
That all is changed, though all is still the same
Fluid the parts, yet durable the frame?
Of those materials which have been confess'd
The pristine springs and parents of the rest,
Each becomes other. Water stopp'd gives birth
To grass and plants, and thickens into earth;
Diffused it rises in a higher sphere,
Dilates its drops, and softens into air:
Those finer parts of air again aspire,
Move into warmth, and brighten into fire;
That fire once more, by thicker air o'ercome,
And downward forced in earth's capacious womb,
Alters its particles, is fire no more,
But lies resplendent dust and shining ore;
Or, running through the mighty mother's veins,
Changes its shape, puts off its old remains;
With watery parts its lessen'd force divides,
Flows into waves, and rises into tides.

Disparted streams shall from their channels fly,
And deep surcharged by sandy mountains lie
Obscurely sepulchred. By beating rain
And furious wind, down to the distant plain
The hill that hides his head above the skies
Shall fall: the plain by slow degrees shall rise
Higher than erst had stood the summit hill;
For Time must Nature's great behest fulfil.

Thus by a length of years and change of fate
All things are light or heavy, small or great;
Thus Jordan's waves shall future clouds appear,
And Egypt's pyramids refine to air;
Thus later age shall ask for Pison's flood,
And travellers inquire where Babel stood.

Now, where we see these changes often fall,
Sedate we pass them by as natural;
Where to our eye more rarely they appear,
The pompous name of prodigy they bear:
Let active thought these close meanders trace,
Let human wit their dubious boundaries place.
Are all things miracle, or nothing such?
And prove we not too little or too much?

For that a branch cut off, a wither'd rod,
Should at a word pronounced revive and bud,
Is this more strange than that the mountain's brow,
Stripp'd by December's frost, and white with snow,
Should push in spring ten thousand thousand buds,
And boast returning leaves and blooming woods?
That each successive night from opening heaven
The food of angels should to man be given?
Is this more strange than that with common bread
Our fainting bodies every day are fed?
Than that each grain and seed consumed in earth,
Raises its store, and multiplies its birth!
And from the handful which the tiller sows
The labour'd fields rejoice, and future harvest flows?

Then from whate'er we can to sense produce
Common and plain, or wondrous and abstruse,
From Nature's constant or eccentric laws,
The thoughtful soul this general influence draws,
That an effect must pre-suppose a cause;
And while she does her upward flight sustain,
Touching each link of the continued chain,
At length she is obliged and forced to see
A first, a source, a life, a Deity;
What has for ever been, and must for ever be.

This great existence thus by reason found,
Bless'd by all power, with all perfection crown'd,
How can we bind or limit his decree
By what our ear has heard, or eye may see?
Say then is all in heaps of water lost,
Beyond the islands and the midland coast?
Or has that God who gave our world its birth
Severed those waters by some other earth,
Countries by future ploughshares to be torn,
And cities raised by nations yet unborn!
Ere the progressive course of restless age
Performs three thousand times its annual stage,
May not our power and learning be suppress'd,
And arts and empire learn to travel west?

Where, by the strength of this idea charm'd,
Lighten'd with glory, and with rapture warm'd,
Ascends my soul! what sees she white and great
Amidst subjected seas? An isle, the seat
Of power and plenty, her imperial throne,
For justice and for mercy sought and known;
Virtues sublime, great attributes of heaven,
From thence to this distinguish'd nation given:
Yet farther west the western isle extends
Her happy fame; her armed fleets she sends
To climates folded yet from human eye,
And lands which we imagine wave and sky;
From pole to pole she hears her acts resound,
And rules an empire by no ocean bound;
Knows her ships anchor'd, and her sails unfurl'd,
In other Indies and a second world.

Long shall Britannia (that must be her name)
Be first in conquest, and preside in fame:
Long shall her favour'd monarchy engage
The teeth of Envy and the force of Age;
Revered and happy, she shall long remain
Of human things least changeable, least vain;
Yet all must with the general doom comply,
And this great glorious power though last must die.

Now let us leave this earth, and lift our eye
To the large convex of yon azure sky:
Behold it like an ample curtain spread,
Now streak'd and glowing with the morning red;
Anon at noon in flaming yellow bright,
And choosing sable for the peaceful night.
Ask Reason now whence light and shade were given,
And whence this great variety of heaven?
Reason our guide, what can she more reply,
Than that the sun illuminates the sky?
Than that night rises from his absent ray,
And his returning lustre kindles day?

But we expect the morning red in vain,
'Tis hid in vapours or obscured in rain;
The noontide yellow we in vain require,
'Tis black in storm, or red in lightning fire.
Pitchy and dark the night sometimes appears,
Friend to our wo, and parent of our fears;
Our joy and wonder sometimes she excites,
With stars unnumber'd and eternal lights.
Send forth, ye wise, send forth your labouring thought,
Let it return, with empty notions fraught
Of airy columns every moment broke,
Of circling whirlpools, and of spheres of smoke;
Yet this solution but once more affords
New change of terms and scaffolding of words;
In other garb my question I receive,
And take the doubt the very same I gave.
Lo! as a giant strong, the lusty sun
Multiplied rounds in one great round does run,
Two-fold his course, yet constant his career,
Changing the day, and finishing the year:
Again, when his descending orb retires,
And earth perceives the absence of his fires,
The moon affords us her alternate ray,
And with kind beams distributes fainter day,
Yet keeps the stages of her monthly race.
Various her beams, and changeable her face;
Each planet shining in his proper sphere
Does with just speed his radiant voyage steer;
Each sees his lamp with different lustre crown'd;
Each knows his course with different periods bound,
And in his passage through the liquid space,
Nor hastens nor retards his neighbour's race.
Now shine these planets with substantial rays?
Does innate lustre gild their measured days?
Or do they (as your schemes I think have shown)
Dart furtive beams and glory not their own,
All servants to that source of light, the sun?

Again: I see ten thousand thousand stars,
Nor cast in lines, in circles, nor in squares,
(Poor rules with which our bounded mind is fill'd
When we would plant, or cultivate, or build)
But shining with such vast, such various light,
As speaks the hand that form'd them infinite.
How mean the order and perfection sought
In the best product of the human thought,
Compared to the great harmony that reigns
In what the Spirit of the world ordains!

Now if the sun to earth transmits his ray,
Yet does not scorch us with too fierce a day,
How small a portion of his power is given
To orbs more distant and remoter heaven?
And of those stars which our imperfect eye
Has doom'd and fix'd to one eternal sky,
Each by native stock of honour great,
Itself a sun and with transmissive light
Enlivens worlds denied to human sight;
Around the circles of their ancient skies
New moons may grow or wane, may set or rise,
And other stars may to those suns be earths,
Give their own elements their proper births,
Divide their climes, or elevate their pole,
See their lands flourish, and their oceans roll;
Yet these great orbs, thus radically bright,
Primitive founts, and origins of light,
May each to other (as their different sphere
Makes or their distance or their height appear
Be seen a nobler or inferior star,
Myriads of earths, and moons, and suns may lie
Unmeasured, and unknown by human eye.

In vain we measure this amazing sphere,
And find and fix its centre here or there,
Whilst its circumference, scorning to be brought
E'en into fancied space, illudes our vanquish'd thought.

Where then are all the radiant monsters driven
With which your guesses fill'd the frighten'd heaven?
Where will their fictious images remain?
In paper schemes, and the Chaldean's brain?

This problem yet, this offspring of a guess,
Let us for once a child of Truth confess;
That these fair stars, these objects of delight
And terror to our searching dazzled sight,
Are worlds immense, unnumber'd, infinite;
But do these worlds display their beams, or guide
Their orbs, to serve thy use, to please thy pride?
Thyself but dust, thy stature but a span,
A moment thy duration, foolish man?
As well may the minutest emmet say
That Caucasus was raised to pave his way;
That snail, that Lebanon's extended wood
Was destined only for his walk and food;
The vilest cockle gaping on the coast,
That rounds the ample seas, as well may boast
The craggy rock projects above the sky,
That he in safety at its foot may lie;
And the whole ocean's confluent waters swell,
Only to quench his thirst, or move and blanch his shell,

A higher flight the venturous goddess tries,
Leaving material worlds and local skies;
Inquires what are the beings, where the space,
That form'd and held the angels' ancient race?
For rebel Lucifer with Michael fought,
(I offer only what Tradition taught)
Embattled cherub against cherub rose,
Did shield to shield and power to power oppose;
Heaven rung with triumph, hell was fill'd with woes.
What were these forms, of which your volumes tell
How some fought great, and others recreant fell?
These bound to bear an everlasting load,
Durance of chain, and banishment of God;
By fatal turns their wretched strength to tire,
To swim in sulphurous lakes, or land on solid fire;
While those, exalted to primeval light,
Excess of blessing, and supreme delight,
Only perceive some little pause of joys,
In those great moments when their god employs
Their ministry to pour his threaten'd hate
On the proud king or the rebellious state;
Or to reverse Jehovah's high command,
And speak the thunder falling from his hand,
When to his duty the proud king returns,
And the rebellious state in ashes mourns?
How can good angels be in heaven confined,
Or view that Presence which no space can bind?
Is God above, beneath, or yon', or here?
He who made all, is he not every where?
Oh! how can wicked angels find a night
So dark to hide them from that piercing light
Which form'd the eye, and gave the power of sight?

What mean I now of angel, when I near
Firm body, spirit pure, or fluid air?
Spirits, to action spiritual confined,
Friends to our thought, and kindred to our mind,
Should only act and prompt us from within,
Nor by external eye be ever seen.
Was it not therefore to our fathers known
That these had appetite, and limb, and bone?
Else how could Abram wash their wearied feet,
Or Sarah please their taste with savoury meat?
Whence should they fear? or why did Lot engage
To save their bodies from abusive rage?
And how could Jacob, in a real fight,
Feel or resist the wrestling angel's might?
How could a form its strength with matter try?
Or how a spirit touch a mortal's thigh?

Now are they air condensed, or gather'd rays?
How guide they then our prayer or keep our ways,
By stronger blasts still subject to be toss'd,
By tempests scatter'd, and in whirlwinds lost?

Have they again (as sacred song proclaims)
Substances real, and existing frames?
How comes it, since with them we jointly share
The great effect of one Creator's care,
That whilst our bodies sicken and decay,
Theirs are for ever healthy, young, and gay?
Why, whilst we struggle in this vale beneath
With want and sorrow, with disease and death,
Do they more bless'd perpetual life employ
On songs of pleasure and in scenes of joy?

Now, when my mind has all this world survey'd,
And found that nothing by itself was made;
When thought has raised itself by just degrees,
From valleys crown'd with flowers, and hills with trees,
From smoking minerals, and from rising streams,
From fattening Nilus, or victorious Thames;
From all the living that four-footed move
Along the shore, the meadow, or the grove;
From all that can with fins or feathers fly
Through the aerial or the watery sky;
From the poor reptile with a reasoning soul,
That miserable master of the whole;
From this great object of the body's eye,
This fair half-round, this ample azure sky,
Terribly large, and wonderfully bright,
With stars unnumber'd, and unmeasured light:
From essences unseen, celestial names,
Enlightening spirits, and ministerial flames,
Angels, Dominions, Potentates, and Thrones,
All that in each decree the name of creature owns:
Lift we our reason to that sovereign cause
Who bless'd the whole with life and bounded it with laws;
Who forth from nothing call'd this comely frame,
His will and act, his word and work the same;
To whom a thousand years are but a day;
Who bade the Light her genial beams display,
And set the moon, and taught the sun his way;
Who waking Time, his creature, from the source
Primeval, order'd his predestined course,
Himself, as in the hollow of his hand,
Holding obedient to his high command,
The deep abyss, the long continued store,
Where months, and days, and hours, and minutes, pour
Their floating parts, and thenceforth are no more:
This Alpha and Omega, First and Last,
Who, like the potter, in a mould has cast
The world's great frame, commanding it to be
Such as the eyes of Sense and Reason see:
Yet if he wills may change or spoil the whole,
May take yon beauteous, mystic, starry roll,
And burn it like a useless parchment scroll;
May from its basis in one moment pour
This melted earth -
Like liquid metal, and like burning ore;
Who, sole in power, at the beginning said,
Let sea, and air, and earth, and heaven, be made,
And it was so - And when he shall ordain
In other sort, has but to speak again,
And they shall be no more: of this great theme,
This glorious, hallow'd, everlasting Name,
This God, I would discourse-

The learned Elders sat appall'd, amazed,
And each with mutual look on other gazed;
Nor speech they meditate, nor answer frame;
Too plain, alas! their silence spake their shame
Till one in whom an outward mien appear'd
And turn superior to the vulgar herd,
Began: That human learning's furthest reach
Was but to note the doctrines I could teach;
That mine to speak, and theirs was to obey,
For I in knowledge more than your power did sway,
And the astonish'd world in me beheld
Moses eclipsed, and Jesse's son excell'd.
Humble a second bow'd, and took the word,
Foresaw my name by future age adored;
O live, said he, thou wisest of the wise;
As none has equall'd, none shall ever rise
Excelling thee -

Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
Pernicious Flattery! thy malignant seeds
In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
Sadly diffused o'er Virtue's gleby land,
With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.

And now the whole perplex'd ignoble crowd,
Mute to my questions, in my praises loud,
Echo'd the word: whence things arose, or how
They thus exist, the aptest nothing know:
What yet is not, but is ordain'd to be,
All veil of doubt apart, the dullest see.

My Prophets and my Sophists finish'd here
Their civil efforts of the verbal war:
Not so my Rabbins and Logicians yield;
Retiring, still they combat: from the field
Of open arms unwilling they depart,
And sculk behind the subterfuge of art.
To speak one thing mix'd dialects they join,
Divide the simple, and the plain define:
Fix fancied laws, and form imagined rules,
Terms of their art, and jargon of their schools,
Ill-ground maxims, by false gloss enlarged,
And captious science against reason charged.

O wretched impotence of human mind!
We, erring, still excuse for error find,
And darkling grope, not knowing we are blind.

Vain man! Since first the blushing sire essay'd
His folly with connected leaves to shade,
How does the crime of thy resembling race,
With like attempt, that pristine error trace?
Too plain thy nakedness of soul espied,
Why dost thou strive the conscious shame to hide,
By masks of eloquence and veils of pride?

With outward smiles their flattery I received,
Own'd my sick mind by their discourse relieved;
But bent, and inward to myself, again
Perplex'd, these matters I resolved in vain.
My search still tired, my labour still renew'd,
At length I Ignorance and Knowledge view'd
Impartial; both in equal balance laid,
Light flew the knowing scale, the doubtful heavy weigh'd.

Forced by reflective reason, I confess
That human science is uncertain guess.
Alas! we grasp at clouds, and beat the air,
Vexing that spirit we intend to clear.
Can thought beyond the bounds of matter climb?
Or who shall tell me what is space or time?
In vain we lift up our presumptuous eyes
To what our Maker to their ken denies:
The searcher follows fast, the object faster flies.
The little which imperfectly we find
Seduces only the bewildered mind
To fruitless search of something yet behind.
Various discussions tear our heated brain:
Opinions often turn; still doubts remain;
And who indulges thought increases pain.

How narrow limits were to Wisdom given?
Earth she surveys; she thence would measure heaven:
Through mists obscure now wings her tedious way
Now wanders, dazzled with too bright a day,
And from the summit of a pathless coast
Sees infinite, and in that sight is lost.

Remember that the cursed desire to know,
Offspring of Adam, was thy source of wo;
Why wilt thou then renew the vain pursuit,
And rashly catch at the forbidden fruit?
With empty labour and eluded strife
Seeking by knowledge to attain to life,
For ever from that fatal tree debarr'd,
Which flaming swords and angry cherubs guard.

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