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A JEWISH FAMILY.
IN A SMALL VALLEY OPPOSITE st. goar, upon the rhine.)
GENIUS of Raphael! if thy wings
Might bear thee to this glen, With faithful memory left of things
To pencil dear and pen,
'Thou would'st forego the neighbouring Rhine, And all his majesty
A studious forehead to incline
O'er this poor family.
The mother-her thou must have seen, In spirit, ere she came
To dwell these rifted rocks between,
Or found on earth a name;
An image, too, of the sweet boy, Thy inspirations give —
Of playfulness, and love, and joy, Predestined here to live.
Downcast, or shooting glances far, How beautiful his eyes,
That blend the nature of the star
With that of summer skies!
I speak as if of sense beguiled;
Uncounted months are gone,
Yet am I with the Jewish child,
That exquisite Saint John.
I see the dark-brown curls, the brow, The smooth transparent skin,
Refined, as with intent to show
The holiness within;
The grace of parting infancy.
By blushes yet untamed;
Age faithful to the mother's knee,
Nor of her arms ashamed.
Two lovely sisters, still and sweet
As flowers, stand side by side; Their soul-subduing looks might cheat The Christian of his pride:
Such beauty hath the Eternal poured
Upon them not forlorn,
Though of a lineage once abhorred,
Nor yet redeemed from scorn..
Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite Of poverty and wrong,
Doth here preserve a living light,
From Hebrew fountains sprung;
That gives this ragged group to cast
Around the dell a gleam
Of Palestine, of glory past,
And proud Jerusalem!
WEAK is the will of man, his judgment blind. 'Remembrance persecutes, and hope betrays;
Heavy is woe; and joy, for human-kind,
A mournful thing, so transient is the blaze!'
Thus might he påint our lot of mortal days
Who wants the glorious faculty assigned
To elevate the more-than-reasoning mind,
And colour life's dark cloud with orient rays.
Imagination is that sacred power,
Imagination lofty and refined:
"Tis hers to pluck the amaranthine flower
Of faith, and round the sufferer's temples bind
Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower,
And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.
My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life's business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?
Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befel, that, in this lonely place,
When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Beside a Pool bare to the eye of Heaven
I saw a Man before me unawares:
I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of him who walked in glory and in joy
Following his plough, along the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified:
His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
But each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest-
Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness. Religious men, who give to God and Man their dues.
As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lic
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a Sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;
He told, that to these waters he had come
To gather Leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance;
The oldest Man he seemed that ever wore gray hairs. And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead
Nor all asleep-in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in life's pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.
A gentle answer did the Old-man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
"What occupation do you there pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you."
He answered, while a flash of mild surprise
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet vivid eyes.
Himself he propped, his body, limbs, and face,
Upon a long gray Staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Upon the margin of that moorish flood
Motionless as a Cloud the Old-man stood;
That heareth not the loud winds when they call;
And moveth all together, if it move at all.
At length, himself unsettling, he the Pond
Stirred with his Staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conned,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now a Stranger's privilege I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."