Imatges de pÓgina
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us in all directions, he should presume to offer to the public a silly tale of old-sashioned love: and five years ago, I own I should have allowed and felt the force of this objection. But, alas! explosion has succeeded explosion so rapidly, that novelty itself ceases to appear new ; and it is possible that now even a simple story, wholly uninspired with politics or personality, may find some attention amid the hubbub of revolutions, as to those who have remained a long time by the falls of Niagara, the lowest whispering becomes distinctly audible. S. T. C. Dec. 21, 1799.

O LEAve the lily on its stem;
O leave the rose upon the spray;

O leave the elder-bloom, fair maids!
And listen to my lay.

A cypress and a myrtle-bough
This morn around my harp you twined,

Because it fashion'd mournfully
Its murmurs in the wind.

And now a Tale of Love and Woe, A woeful Tale of Love I sing;

Hark, gentle maidens, hark' it sighs And trembles on the string.

But most, my own dear Genevieve,
It sighs and trembles most for thee!

0 come, and hear what cruel wrongs Befel the Dark Ladie.

Few sorrows hath she of her own, My hope, my joy, my Genevieve!

She loves me best, whene'er I sing The songs that make her grieve.

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stir this mortal frame,

All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.

Oh! ever in my waking dreams,
I dwell upon that happy hour,

When midway on the mount I sate,
Beside the ruin'd tower.

The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene, Had blended with the lights of eve;

And she was there, my hope, my joy, My own dear Genevieve!

She lean'd against the armed man, The statue of the armed knight;

She stood and listen’d to my harp, Amid the ling'ring light.

I play'd a sad and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—

An old rude song, that fitted well
That ruin wild and hoary.

She listen'd with a slitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;

For well she knew, I could not chuse
But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore Upon his shield a burning brand;

And how for ten long years he woo'd The Ladie of the Land :

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Shiver in sunshine, but his feel,le heart Shall flow away like a dissolving thing.

Sweet breeze' thou only, if I guess aright, Liftest the feathers of the robin's breast, That swells its little breast, so full of song, Singing above ine, on the mountain-ash. And thou too, desert Stream! no pool of thine, Though clear as lake in latest summer-eve, Did eer reflect the stately virgin's robe, The face, the form divine, the downcast look Contemplative! Behold! her open palm Presses her check and brow! her elbow rests On the bare branch of half-uprooted tree, That leans towards its mirror! Who erewhile Had from her countenance turn'd, or look'd by stealth (For fear is true love's cruel nurse), he now With steadfast gaze and unoffending eye, worships the watery idol, dreaming hopes Delicious to the soul, but fleeting, vain, Een as that phantom-world on which he gazed, But not unheeded gazed : for see, ah! see, The sportive tyraut with her left hand plucks The heads of tall flowers that behind her grow, Lychnis, and willow-herb, and fox-glove bells: And suddenly, as one that toys with time, Scatters them on the pool! Then all the charm is broken—all that phantom-world so fair Wanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, And each mis-shapes the other. Stay awhile, Poor youth, who scarcely darest lift up thine eyes! The stream will soon renew its smootliness, soon The visions will return! And lo! he stays: And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms Come trembling back, unite, and now once more The pool becomes a mirror; and behold Each wild-flower on the marge inverted there, And there the half-uprooted tree—but where, 0 where the virgin's snowy arm, that lean'd On its bare branch! He turns, and she is gone! Homeward she steals through many a woodland maze which he shall seek in vain. Ill-fated youth' Go, day by day, and waste thy manly prime

In mad love-yearning by the vacant brook,

Till sickly thoughts bewitch thine eyes, and thou
Behold other shadow still abiding there,
The Naiad of the Mirror!

Not to thee, 0 wild and desert Stream! belongs this tale : Gloomy and dark art thou—the crowded firs Spire from thy shores, and stretch across thy bed, Making thee doleful as a cavern-well: Save when the shy king-fishers build their nest On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild stream!

This be my chosen haunt—emancipate

From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone,
rise and trace its devious course. O lead,
Lead one to deeper shades and lonelier glooms.
Lo! stealing through the canopy of firs,
How fair the sunshine spots that mossy rock,
Isle of the river, whose disparted waves
Dart off asunder with an angry sound,
How soon to re-unite! And see! they meet,

Each in the other lost and found; and see

Placeless, as spirits, one soft water-sun
Throbbing within them, Heart at once and Eye
With its soft neighbourhood of filmy clouds,
The stains and shadings of forgotten tears,
Dimness o'erswum with lustre! Such the hour
Of deep enjoyment, following love's brief feuds;
And hark, the noise of a near waterfall !
I pass forth into light—I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful
Of forest-trees, the Lady of the woods),
Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock
That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills
Fold in behind each other, and so make
A circular vale, and land-lock'd, as might seem,
With brook and bridge, and grey stone cottages,
Half hid by rocks and fruit-trees. At my feet,
The whortle-herries are bedev'd with spray,
Dash'd upwards by the furious waterfall.
How solemnly the pendent ivy mass
Swings in its winnow : All the air is calm.
The smoke from cottage-chimneys, tinged with light,
Rises in columns; from this house alone,
Close by the waterfall, the column slants,
And feels its ceaseless breeze. But what is this?
That cottage, with its slanting chimney-smoke,
And close beside its porch a sleeping child,
His dear head pillow'd on a sleeping dog—
One arm between its fore-legs, and the hand
Ilolds loosely its small handful of wild-flowers,
Unfilleted, and of unequal lengths.
A curious picture, with a master's haste
Sketch'd on a strip of pinky-silver skin,
Peel'd from the birchen bark! Divinest maid!
Yon bark her canvas, and those purple berries
Her pencil! See, the juice is scarcely dried
On the fine skin' She has been newly here;
And lo! yon patch of heath has been her couch—
The pressure still remains! O blessed couch
For this mayst thou slower early, and the Sun,
Slanting at eve, rest bright, and linger long
Upon thy purple bells! O Isabel!
Daughter of thenius' stateliest of our maids!
More beautiful than whom Alcaeus wooed,
The Lesbian woman of immortal song!
O child of genius' stately, beautiful,
And full of love to all, save only me,
And not ungentle e'en to me! My heart,
Why beats it thus? Through yonder coppice-wood
Needs must the pathway turn, that leads straightway
On to her father's house. She is alone !
The night draws on—such ways are hard to hit—
And fit it is I should restore this sketch,
Dropt unawares, no doubt. Why should I yearn
To keep the relique 't will but idly feed
The passion that consumes me. Let me haste!
The picture in my hand which she has left,
She cannot blame me that I follow'd her;
And I may be her guide the long wood through.

THE NIGHT-SCENE. A dramatic rit a GMENT.

san dow.A L. You loved the daughter of Don Manrique?

O Liberty! with profitless endeavour Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour; But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power. Alike from all, howe'er they praise thee (Not prayer, nor boastful name delays thee), Alike from Priestcraft's harpy minions, And factious Blasphemy's obscener slaves, Thou speedest on thy subtle pinions, The guide of homeless winds, and playmate of the waves' And there I felt thee!—on that sea-cliff's verge, Whose pines, scarce travell'd by the breeze above, Had made one murmur with the distant surge! Yes, while I stood and gazed, my temples bare, And shot my being through earth, sea and air, Possessing all things with intensest love, O Liberty! my spirit felt thee there.

February, 1797.

FEARS in SOLITUDE.

whitTEN IN APRIL, 1798, DURING THE ALARM of AN invasiox.

A Ghee N and silent spot, amid the hills, A small and silent dell! O'er stiller place No singing sky-lark ever poised himself. The hills are heathy, save that swelling slope, Which hath a gay and gorgeous covering on, All golden with the never-bloomless furze, Which now blooms most profusely: but the dell, Bathed by the mist, is fresh and delicate As vernal corn-field, or the unripe flax, When, through its half-transparent stalks, at eve, The level Sunshine glimmers with green light. Oh!'t is a quiet spirit-healing nook' Which all, methinks, would love; but chiefly he, The humble man, who, in his youthful years, Knew just so much of folly, as had made His early manhood more securely wise: Here he might lie on fern or wither'd heath, While from the singing-lark (that sings unseen The minstrelsy that solitude loves best), And from the Sun, and from the breezy Air, Sweet influences trembled o'er his frame; And he, with many feelings, many thoughts, Made up a meditative joy, and found Religious meanings in the forms of nature' And so, his senses gradually wrapt In a half sleep, he dreams of better worlds, And dreaming hears thee still, O singing-lark! That singest like an angel in the clouds!

My God! it is a melancholy thing For such a man, who would full fain preserve His soul in calmness, yet perforce must feel For all his human brethren—0 my God! It weighs upon the heart, that he must think What uproar and wha: strife may now be stirring This way or that way o'er these silent hills— Invasion, and the thunder and the shout, And all the crash of onset; fear and rage, And undetermined conflict—even now,

Fven now, perchance, and in his native isle: Carnage and groans beneath this blessed Sun! We have offended, Oh! my countrymen! We have offended very grievously, And been most tyrannous. From east to west A groan of accusation pierces Heaven! The wretched plead against us; multitudes Countless and vehement, the Sons of God, Our Brethren Like a cloud that travels on, Steam'd up from Cairo's swamps of pestilence, Even so, my countrymen! have we gone forth And borne to distant tribes slavery and pangs, And, deadlier far, our vices, whose deep taint With slow perdition murders the whole man, His body and his soul! Meanwhile, at home, All individual dignity and power Engulf'd in Courts, Committees, Institutions, Associations and Societies, A vain, speech-mouthing, speech-reporting Guild, One Benefit-Club for mutual flattery, We have drunk up, demure as at a grace, Pollutions from the brimming cup of wealth; Contemptuous of all honourable rule, Yet bartering freedom and the poor man's life For gold, as at a market! The sweet words Of Christian promise, words that even vet Might stem destruction, were they wisely preach'd, Are mutter'd o'er by men, whose tones proclaim How that and wearisome they feel their trade: Rank scoffers some, but most too indolent To deem them falsehoods or to know their truth. Oh! blasphemous! the book of life is made A superstitious instrument, on which We gabble o'er the oaths we mean to break; For all must swear—all and in every place, College and wharf, council and justice-court; All, all must swear, the briber and the bribed, Merchant and lawyer, senator and priest, The rich, the poor, the old man and the young; All, all make up one scheme of perjury, That faith doth reel; the very name of God Sounds like a juggler's charm; and, bold with joy, Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place, (Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism, Sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon, Drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close, And hooting at the glorious Sun in Heaven, Cries out, . Where is it?

Thankless too for peace (Peace long preserved by fleets and perilous seas), Secure from actual warfare, we have loved To swell the war-whoop, passionate for war! Alas! for ages ignorant of all Its ghastlier workings (famine or blue plague, Battle, or siege, or thight through wintry snows), We, this whole people, have been clamorous For war and bloodshed; animating sports, The which we pay for as a thing to talk of, Spectators and not combatants! No Guess Anticipative of a wrong unfelt, No speculation or contingency, However dim and vague, too vague and dim To yield a justifying cause; and forth (Stuffed out with big preamble, holy names,

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