Imatges de pÓgina
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Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense Poet who hath been building up the rhymne When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs

of home

Is sweetest! moments for their own sake hail'd,

And more desired, more precious for thy song;
In silence listening, like a devout child,
My soul lay passive, by thy various strain
Driven, as in surges now beneath the stars,
With momentary stars of my own birth,
Fair constellated foam, still darting off
Into the darkness; now a tranquil sea,
Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the
Moon.

And when-O Friend! my comforter and guide! Strong in thyself, and powerful to give strength!

Thy long sustained song finally closed,
And thy deep voice had ceased yet thou
thyself
Wert still before my eyes, and round us both
That happy vision of beloved faces-
Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its
close

I sate, my being blended in one thought
(Thought was it? or aspiration? or resolve?)
Absorb'd, yet hanging still upon the sound-
And when I rose, I found myself in prayer.

THE NIGHTINGALE;

A CONVERSATION-POEM.

Written in April 1798.

No cloud, no relique of the sunken day Distinguishes the West, no long thin slip Of sullen light, no obscure trembling hues. Come, we will rest on this old, mossy bridge! You see the glimmer of the stream beneath, But hear no murmuring: it flows silently O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still,

A balmy night! and tho' the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall
find

A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song,
Most musical, most melancholy bird!
A melancholy bird? Oh! idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man, whose heart
was pierced

With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
(And so, poor wretch! fill'd all things with
bimself

And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale Of his own sorrow) he, and such as he, First named these notes a melancholy strain! And many a poet echoes the conceit,

Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell,
By Sun or Moon-light, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song
And of his fame forgetful! so his fame
Should share in Nature's immortality,
A venerable thing! and so his song
Should make all Nature lovelier, and itself
Be lov'd like Nature! But 'twill not be so;
And youths and maidens most poetical,
Who lose the deep'ning twilights of the
spring

In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still
Full of meek sympathy must heave their
sighs
O'er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.

My Friend, and thou, our Sister! we have learnt A different lore: we may not thus profane Nature's sweet voices, always full of love And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates With fast thick warble his delicious notes, As he were fearful that an April-night Would be too short for him to utter forth His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul Of all its music! And I know a grove Of large extent, hard by a castle huge, Which the great lord inhabits not; and so This grove is wild with tangling underwood, And the trim walks are broken up, and grass, Thin grass and king-cups grow within the paths.

But never elsewhere in one place I knew So many Nightingales; and far and near, In wood and thicket, over the wide grove, They answer and provoke each other's songs

With skirmish and capricious passagings, And murmurs musical and swift jug jug ; And one low piping sound more sweet than all

Stirring the air with such an harmony, That, should you close your eyes, you might almost

Forget it was not day! On moonlight bushes,
Whose dewy leaflets are but half disclosed,
You may perchance behold them on the twigs,
Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both
bright and full,

Glistening, while many a glow-worm in the
shade
Lights, up her love-torch.-A most gentle
Maid,

Who dwelleth in her hospitable home
Hard by the castle, and at latest eve
(Even like a Lady vow'd and dedicate
To something more than Nature in the grove)
Glides thro' the pathways; she knows all
their notes,
That gentle Maid! and oft a moment's spare.

What time the Moon was lost behind a Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame

cloud, Hath heard a pause of silence; till the Moon

Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
With one sensation, and these wakeful birds
Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if one quick and sudden gale had swept
An hundred airy harps! And she hath watch'd
Many a Nightingale perch giddily
On bloomy twig still swinging from the
breeze,

And to that motion tune his wanton song
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.

Farewell, O Warbler! till to-morrow-eve, And you, my friends! farewell, a short farewell!

We have been loitering long and pleasantly, And now for our dear homes.-That strain again?

Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his ear,
His little hand, the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! And I deem it wise
To make him Nature's play-mate. He knows

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Lies on my low burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which flutter'd on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
To which the living spirit in our frame,
That loves not to behold a lifeless thing,
Transfuses its own pleasures, its own will.

How oft, at school, with most believing mind, Presageful, have I gaz'd upon the bars, To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft With unclosed lids already had I dreamt Of my sweet birth-place, and the old churchtower,

Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang

From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day, So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear Most like articulate sounds of things to come! So gaz'd I, till the soothing things, I dreamt, Lull'd me to sleep, and sleep prolong'd my dreams!

And so I brooded all the following morn, Aw'd by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye Fix'd with mock study on my swimming book: Save if the door half open'd, and I snatch'd A hasty glance, and still my heart leapt up, For still I hop'd to see the stranger's face, Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, My play - mate when we both were cloth'd alike!

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bars,

That give away their motion to the stars; Those stars, that glide behind them or between,

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, And those thin clouds above, in flakes and Whether the summer clothe the general earth With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the evedrops fall,

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A grief without a pang, void, dark, and
drear,

A stifled, drowsy, unimpassion'd grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
In word, or sigh, or tear-

Not sparkling, now bedimm'd, but always

seen;

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O pure of heart! thou needst not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!
What, and wherein it doth exist,

This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour.
Life, and life's effluence, cloud at once and
shower,

Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dow'r
A new Earth and new Heaven,
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud —
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous

cloud

We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms or car or
sight,

All melodies the echoes of that voice,

O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle woo'd, All colours a suffusion from that light.

All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
Have I been gazing on the western sky,
And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And still I gaze- and with how blank an

eye!

There was a time when, though my path
was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress,

And all misfortunes were but as the stuff Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness: For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,

And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seem'd mine.

But now afflictions bow me down to earth:
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth,
But oh! each visitation

Suspends what nature gave me at my birth,
My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,
But to be still and patient, all I can;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural Man-
This was my sole resource, my only plan:
Till that which suits a part infects the
whole,

And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.

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scream

Of agony by torture lengthen'd out That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that rav'st without,

Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree, Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb, Or lonely house, long held the witches' home,

Methinks were fitter instruments for thee, Mad Lutanist! who in this month of show'rs, Of dark brown gardens, and of peeping flow'rs, Mak'st Devils' yule, with worse than wint'ry

song, The blossoms, buds, and tim'rous leaves among.

Thou Actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
Thou mighty Poet, e'en to Frenzy bold!
What tellst thou now about?

Tis of the rushing of an host in rout,
With groans of trampled men, with smarting
wounds-

At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the cold!

But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence! And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd, With groans, and tremulous shudderings— all is over

It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and loud!

A tale of less affright,

And temper'd with delight,

'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:

Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep! Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,

And may this storm be but a mountainbirth,

May all the stars hang bright above her
dwelling,
Silent as though they watch'd the sleeping
Earth!

With light heart may she rise,
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes,
Joy lift her spirit, joy attune her voice:
To her may all things live, from pole to
pole,

Their life the eddying of her living soul!
O simple spirit, guided from above,
Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice,
Thus mayst thou ever, evermore rejoice.

ODE TO GEORGIANA, DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE.

ON THE 24TH STANZA IN HER "PASSAGE OVER MOUNT GOTHARD."

And hail the Chapel! hail the Platform wild!
With well strung arm, that first preserv'd his Child,
Where Tell directed the avenging Dart,
Then aimed the arrow at the Tyrant's heart.

SPLENDOR'S fondly fostered child!
And did you hail the Platform wild,
Where once the Austrian fell
Beneath the shaft of Tell?
O Lady, nurs'd in pomp and pleasure!
Whence learnt you that heroic measure?

Light as a dream your days their circlets

ran,

From all that teaches brotherhood to man Far, far removed! from want, from hope, from fear!

Enchanting music lull'd your infant ear, Obeisant praises sooth'd your infant heart: Emblazonments and old ancestral crests, With many a bright obstrusive form of art Detain'd your eye from nature: stately

vests,

That veiling strove to deck your charms divine,

Rich viands, and the pleasurable wine, Were your's unearn'd by toil; nor could

you see

As Otway's self had fram'd the tender lay- The unenjoying toiler's misery. 'Tis of a little child

Upon a lonesome wild,

Not far from home, but she hath lost her

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And yet, free Nature's uncorrupted child, You hail'd the Chapel and the Platform wild,

Where once the Austrian fell
Beneath the shaft of Tell!

O Lady, nurs'd in pomp and pleasure!
Whence learnt you that heroic measure?

There crowd your finely-fibred frame,
All living faculties of bliss:
And Genius to your cradle came,

His forehead wreath'd with lambent flame,
And bending low, with godlike kiss
Breath'd in a more celestial life!
But boasts not many a fair compeer
A heart as sensitive to joy and fear?
And some, perchance, might wage an equal
strife,

Some few, to nobler being wrought,
Co-rivals in the nobler gift of thought.
Yet these delight to celebrate
Laurell'd war and plumy state;
Or in verse and music dress
Tales of rustic happiness-

Pernicious tales! insidious strains!
That steel the rich man's breast,
And mock the lot unblest,

The sordid vices and the abject pains,
Which evermore must be

The doom of ignorance and penury!
But you, free Nature's uncorrupted child,
You hail'd the Chapel and the Platform wild,
Where once the Austrian fell

Beneath the shaft of Tell!

O Lady, nurs'd in pomp and pleasure!
Where learnt you that heroic measure?

· ODE TO TRANQUILLITY.

TRANQUILLITY! thou better name
Than all the family of Fame!
Thou ne'er wilt leave my riper age.
To low intrigue, or factious rage:
For oh! dear child of thoughtful Truth,
To thee I gave my early youth,
And left the bark, and blest the stedfast
shore,
Ere yet the Tempest rose and scar'd me with
its roar.

Who late and lingering seeks thy shrine,
On him but seldom, power divine,
Thy spirit rests! Satiety

And sloth, poor counterfeits of thee,
Mock the tired worldling. Idle Hope
And dire Remembrance interlope,

To vex the feverish slumbers of the mind:
The bubble floats before, the spectre stalks
behind.

But me thy gentle hand will lead

At morning through the accustom'd mead;
And in the sultry summer's heat
Will build me up a mossy seat!
And when the gust of Autumn crowds

- You were a Mother! That most holy And breaks the busy moonlight-clouds,

name,

Which Heaven and Nature bless,

I may not vilely prostitute to those
Whose Infants owe them less
Than the poor caterpillar owes
Its gaudy parent-fly.

You were a Mother! at your bosom fed
The Babes that lov'd you. You, with laugh-
ing eye,

Each twilight-thought, each nascent feeling
read,

Which you yourself created. O delight!
A second time to be a Mother,
Without the Mother's bitter groans:
Another thought, and yet another,
By touch, or taste, by looks or tones
O'er the growing sense to roll,
The Mother of your Infant's Soul!
The Angel of the Earth, who, while he guides
His chariot-planet round the goal of day,
All trembling gazes on the Eye of God,
A moment turn'd his awful face away;
And as he view'd you, from his aspect sweet
New influences in your being rose,
Blest intuitions and communions fleet
With living Nature, in her joys and woes!
Thenceforth your soul rejoic'd to see
The shrine of social Liberty!

O beautiful! O Nature's child!

Thou best the thought canst raise, the heart

attune, Light as the busy clouds, calm as the gliding Moon.

The feeling heart, the searching soul,
To thee I dedicate the whole!
And while within myself I trace
The greatness of some future race,
Aloof with hermit-eye I scan
The present works of present man
A wild and dream-like trade of blood and
guile,

Too foolish for a tear, too wicked for a smile.

TO A YOUNG FRIEND,

ON HIS PROPOSING TO DOMESTICATE WITH THE

AUTHOR.

A MOUNT, not wearisome and bare and steep, But a green mountain variously up-piled, Where o'er the jutting rocks soft mosses

creep,

Or color'd lichens with slow oosing weep;

"Twas thence you hail'd the Platform wild, Where cypress and the darker yew start wild; Where once the Austrian fell

Beneath the shaft of Tell!

O Lady, nurs'd in pomp and pleasure!
Thence learnt you that heroic measure.

And 'mid the summer-torrent's gentle dash
Dance brighten'd the red clusters of the ash;
Beneath whose boughs, by those still sounds
beguil'd,

Calm Pensiveness night muse herself to sleep;

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