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TO THE LADY MARY LOWTHER,
With a selection from the Poems of Anne, Countess of Winchelsen; and extracts of similar character from other writers; transcribed by a female friend.
LADY! I rifled a Parnassian Cave
(But seldom trod) of mildly-gleaming ore;
And culled, from sundry beds, a lucid store
Of genuine crystals, pure as those that pave
The azure brooks where Dian joys to lave
Her spotless limbs; and ventured to explore
Dim shades-for reliques, upon Lethe's shore,
Cast up at random by the sullen wave.
To female hands the treasures were resigned;
And lo, this Work! a grotto bright and clear
From stain or taint! in which thy blameless mind
May feed on thoughts though pensive not austere;
Or, if thy deeper spirit be inclined
To holy musing, it may enter here.
There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only Poets know ; —'t was rightly said;
Whom could the Muses else allure to tread
Their smoothest paths, to wear their lightest chains?
When happiest Fancy has inspired the Strains,
How oft the malice of one luckless word
Pursues the Enthusiast to the social board,
Haunts him belated on the silent plains!
Yet he repines not, if his thought stand clear,
At last, of hinderance and obscurity,
Fresh as the Star that crowns the brow of Morn;
Bright, speckless, as a softly moulded tear
The moment it has left the Virgin's eye,
Or rain-drop lingering on the pointed Thorn.
THE Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
"Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little Cloud, in ether spread,
And penetrated all with tender light,
She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
Uncovered; - dazzling the Beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right,
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparaged.
Meanwhile that Veil,.removed or thrown aside,
Went, floating from her, darkening as it went;
And a huge Mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament;
Who meekly yields, and is obscured;-content
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.
WITH how sad steps, O Moon, thou climbest the sky,
How silently, and with how wan a face!*
Where art thou? Thou whom I have seen on high
Running among the clouds a wood-nymph's race!
Unhappy Nuns, whose common breath's a sigh
Which they would stifle, move at such a pace!
The northern Wind, to call thee to the chase,
Must blow to-night his bugle horn. Had I
The power of Merlin, Goddess! this should be:
And the keen Stars, fast as the clouds were riven.
Should sally forth, an emulous Company,
All hurrying with thee through the clear blue heaven
But, Cynthia! should to thee the palm be given,
Queen both for beauty and for majesty.
EVEN as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a black recess
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless:
The Lake below reflects it not; the sky,
Muffled in clouds, affords no company
To mitigate and cheer its loneliness.
Yet, round the body of that joyless Thing
Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated in domestic ring
A gay society with faces bright,
Conversing, reading, laughing;-or they sing,
While hearts and voices in the song unite.
From a Sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney.
MARK the concentred Hazels that enclose
Yon old gray Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns:- and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows
Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,
In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains. - Live, ye Trees!
And Thou, gray Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chamber where the Mighty sleep:
For more than Fancy to the influence bends
When solitary Nature condescends
To mimic Time's forlorn humanities.
Oft as appears a grove, or obvious hill,
Glistening with unparticipated ray,
Or shining slope where he must never stray;
So joys, remembered without wish or will,
Sharpen the keenest edge of present ill,-
On the crushed heart a heavier burthen lay.
Just Heaven, contract the compass of my mind
To fit proportion with my altered state!
Quench those felicities whose light I find
Reflected in my bosom all too late!-
O be my spirit, like my thraldom, strait;
And, like mine eyes that stream with sorrow, blind!"
"As the cold aspect of a sunless way Strikes through the Traveller's frame with deadlier Thou dost forsake thy subterranean haunts,
COMPOSED ON THE BANKS OF A ROCKY STREAM
DOGMATIC Teachers, of the snow-white fur!
Ye wrangling Schoolmen, of the scarlet hood!
Who, with a keenness not to be withstood,
Press the point home, - or falter and demur,
Checked in your cource by many a teasing burr;
These natural council-seats your acrid blood
Might cool; and, as the Genius of the flood
Stoops willingly to animate and spur
Each lighter function slumbering in the brain,
Yon eddying balls of foam - these arrowy gleams,
That o'er the pavement of the surging streams
Welter and flash -a synod might detain
With subtle speculations, haply vain,
But surely less so than your far-fetched themes!
BROOK! whose society the Poet seeks,
Intent his wasted spirits to renew;
And whom the curious Painter doth pursue
Through rocky passes, among flowery creeks,
And tracks thee dancing down thy water-brakes;
If wish were mine some type of thee to view,
Thee, and not thee thyself, I would not do
Like Grecian Artists, give thee human cheeks,
Channels for tears; no Naiad should'st thou be, -
Have neither limbs, feet, feathers, joints nor hairs:
It seems the Eternal Soul is clothed in thee
With purer robes than those of flesh and blood,
And hath bestowed on thee a better good;
Unwearied joy, and life without its cares.
This, and the two following, were suggested by Mr. W. Westa la
Views of the Caves, etc. in Yorkshire.
PURE element of waters! wheresoe'er
Green herbs, bright flowers, and berry-bearing plants Rise into life and in thy train appear:
And, through the sunny portion of the year,
Swift insects shine, thy hovering pursuivants:
And, if thy bounty fail, the forest pants;
And hart and hind and hunter with his spear,
Languish and droop together. Nor unfelt
In man's perturbed soul thy sway benign;
And, haply, far within the marble belt
Of central earth, where tortured Spirits pine
For grace and goodness lost, thy murmurs melt
Their anguish,—and they blend sweet songs with
WAS the aim frustrated by force or guile,
When giants scooped from out the rocky ground
-Tier under tier- this semicirque profound?
(Giants the same who built in Erin's isle
That Causeway with incomparable toil!)
O, had this vast theatric structure wound
With finished sweep into a perfect round,
No mightier work had gained the plausive smile
Of all-beholding Phoebus! But, alas,
Vain earth!- false world! - Foundations must be laid
In Heaven; for, 'mid the wreck of is and was,
Things incomplete and purposes betrayed
* Waters (as Mr. Westall informs us in the letter-press prenxed to his admirable views) are invariably found to flow through these caverns
Make sadder transits o'er truth's mystic glass
Than noblest objects utterly decayed.
AT early dawn, or rather when the air
Glimmers with fading light, and shadowy Eve
Is busiest to confer and to bereave,
Then, pensive Votary! let thy feet repair
To Gordale-chasm, terrific as the lair
Where the young lions couch; -for so, by leave
Of the propitious hour, thou may'st perceive
The local Deity, with oozy hair
And mineral crown, beside his jagged urn,
Recumbent: Him thou may'st behold, who hides
His lineaments by day, yet there presides,
Teaching the docile waters how to turn;
Or, if need be, impediment to spurn,
And force their passage to the salt-sea tides!
A WEIGHT of awe not easy to be borne
Fell suddenly upon my Spirit-cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past,
When first I saw that Sisterhood forlorn;
And Her, whose massy strength and stature scorn
The power of years pre-eminent, and placed
to overlook the circle vast.
Speak, Giant-mother! tell it to the Morn
While she dispels the cumbrous shades of night;
Let the Moon hear, emerging from a cloud,
At whose behest uprose on British ground
Thy Progeny; in hieroglyphic round
Forth-shadowing, some have deemed, the infinite,
The inviolable God, that tames the proud!
And little could be gained from all that dower
Of prospect, whereof many thousands tell.
Yet did the glowing west in all its power
Salute us; there stood Indian Citadel,
Temple of Greece, and Minster with its tower
Substantially expressed a place for bell
Or clock to toll from. Many a tempting Isle,
With Groves that never were imagined, lay
'Mid seas how steadfast! objects all for the eye
Of silent rapture; but we felt the while
We should forget them; they are of the sky,
And from our earthly memory fade away.
THESE words were uttered as in pensive mood
We turned, departing from that solemn sight:
A contrast and reproach to gross delight,
THE MONUMENT COMMONLY CALLed long meg aND And life's unspiritual pleasures daily wooed!
HER DAUGHTERS, NEAR THE RIVER EDEN.*
But now upon this thought I cannot brood;
It is unstable as a dream of night;
Nor will I praise a Cloud, however bright,
Disparaging Man's gifts, and proper food.
Grove, Isle, with every shape of sky-built dome,
Though clad in colours beautiful and pure,
Find in the heart of man no natural home:
The immortal Mind craves objects that endure:
These cleave to it; from these it cannot roam,
Nor they from it: their fellowship is secure.
DARK and more dark the shades of evening fell;
The wished-for point was reached, but late the hour;
*The Daughters of Long Meg, placed in a perfect circle eighty yards in diameter, are seventy-two in number, and their height is from three feet to so many yards above ground; a little way out of the circle stands Long Meg herself, a single Stone, eighteen feet high. When the Author first saw this Monument, as he came upon it by surprise, he might over-rate its importance as an object; but, though it will not bear a comparison with Stonehenge, he must say, he has not seen any other Relique of those dark ages, which can pretend to rival it in singularity and dignity of appearance.
-"they are of the sky,
And from our earthly memory fade away."
EARTH has not any thing to show more fair:
COMPOSED AFTER A JOURNEY ACROSS THE HAM- Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
BLETON HILLS, YORKSHIRE.
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE,
SEPT. 3, 1803.
OXFORD, MAY 30, 1820.
YE sacred Nurseries of blooming Youth!
In whose collegiate shelter England's Flowers
Expand enjoying through their vernal hours
The air of liberty, the light of truth;
Much have ye suffered from Time's gnawing tooth,
Yet, O ye Spires of Oxford! Domes and Towers!
Gardens and Groves! your presence overpowers
The soberness of Reason; till, in sooth,
Transformed, and rushing on a bold exchange,
I slight my own beloved Cam, to range
Where silver Isis leads my stripling feet;
Pace the long avenue, or glide adown
The stream-like windings of that glorious street,
An eager Novice robed in fluttering gown!
OXFORD, MAY 30, 1820.
SHAME on this faithless heart! that could allow
Such transport- though but for a moment's space;
Not while to aid the spirit of the place -
The crescent moon clove with its glittering prow
The clouds, or night-bird sang from shady bough,
But in plain daylight: She, too, at my side,
Who, with her heart's experience satisfied,
Maintains inviolate its slightest vow!
Sweet Fancy! other gifts must I receive;
Proofs of a higher sovereignty I claim;
Take from her brow the withering flowers of eve,
And to that brow Life's morning wreath restore;
Let her be comprehended in the frame
Of these illusions, or they please no more.
RECOLLECTION OF THE PORTRAIT OF KING HENRY EIGHTH, TRINITY LODGE, CAMBRIDGE.
THE imperial Stature, the colossal stride,
Are yet before me; yet do I behold
The broad full visage, chest of amplest mould,
The vestments 'broidered with barbaric pride:
And lo! a poniard, at the Monarch's side,
Hangs ready to be grasped in sympathy
With the keen threatenings of that fulgent eye,
Below the white-rimmed bonnet, far descried.
Who trembles now at thy capricious mood!
'Mid those surrounding worthies, haughty King,
We rather think, with grateful mind sedate,
How Providence educeth, from the spring
Of lawless will, unlooked-for streams of good,
Which neither force shall check, nor time abate!
ON THE DEATH OF HIS MAJESTY, (GEORGE THE THIRD.)
WARD of the Law!-dread Shadow of a King!
Whose realm had dwindled to one stately room;
Whose universe was gloom immersed in gloom,
Darkness as thick as Life o'er Life could fling,
Save haply for some feeble glimmering
Of Faith and Hope; if thou, by nature's doom,
Gently hast sunk into the quiet tomb,
Why should we bend in grief, to sorrow cling,
When thankfulness were best? -Fresh-flowing tears
Or, where tears flow not, sigh succeeding sigh,
Yield to such after-thought the sole reply
Which justly it can claim. The Nation hears
In this deep knell - silent for threescore years,
An unexampled voice of awful memory!
FAME tells of Groves-from England far away-
*Groves that inspire the Nightingale to trill
And modulate, with subtle reach of skill
Elsewhere unmatched, her ever-varying lay;
Such bold report I venture to gainsay;
For I have heard the choir of Richmond hill
Chanting, with indefatigable bill,
Strains that recalled to mind a distant day;
When, haply under shade of that same wood,
And scarcely conscious of the dashing oars
Plied steadily between those willowy shores,
The sweet-souled Poet of the Seasons stood -
Listening, and listening long, in rapturous mood,
Ye heavenly Birds! to your Progenitors.
A PARSONAGE IN OXFORDSHIRE.t
WHERE holy ground begins, unhallowed ends,
Is marked by no distinguishable line;
The turf unites, the pathways intertwine;
And, wheresoe'er the stealing footstep tends,
Garden, and that domain where Kindred, Friends,
And Neighbours rest together, here confound
Their several features, mingled like the sound
Of many waters, or as evening blends
With shady night. Soft airs, from shrub and flower,
Waft fragrant greetings to each silent grave;
And while those lofty Poplars gently wave
Their tops, between them comes and goes a sky
Bright as the glimpses of Eternity,
To Saints accorded in their mortal hour.
* Wallachia is the country alluded to. † See Note, 23, p. 324.
COMPOSED AMONG THE RUINS OF A CASTLE IN NORTH WALES.
THROUGH shattered galleries, 'mid roofless halls,
Wandering with timid footstep oft betrayed,
The Stranger sighs, nor scruples to upbraid
Old Time, though He, gentlest among the Thralls
Of Destiny, upon these wounds hath laid
His lenient touches, soft as light that falls,
From the wan Moon, upon the Towers and Walls,
Light deepening the profoundest sleep of shade.
Relic of Kings! Wreck of forgotten wars,
To winds abandoned and the prying stars,
Time loves Thee! at his call the Seasons twine
Luxuriant wreaths around thy forehead hoar;
And, though past pomp no changes can restore,
A soothing recompense, his gift, is Thine!
TO THE LADY E. B. AND THE HON. MISS P. COMPOSED IN THE GROUNDS OF PLASS NEWIDD, Near LLANGOLLIN, 1824.
A STREAM to mingle with your favourite Dee,
Along the VALE of MeditatioN* flows;
So styled by those fierce Britons, pleased to see
In Nature's face the expression of repose;
Or haply there some pious Hermit chose
To live and die, the peace of Heaven his aim;
To whom the wild sequestered region owes,
At this late day, its sanctifying name.
GLYN CAFAILLGAROCH, in the Cambrian tongue,
In ours the Vale of Friendship, let this spot
Be named; where, faithful to a low-roofed Cot,
On Deva's banks, ye have abode so long;
Sisters in love-a love allowed to climb,
Even on this earth, above the reach of Time!
TO THE TORRENT AT THE DEVIL'S BRIDGE, NORTH WALES.
How art thou named? In search of what strange land
From what huge height, descending? Can such force
Of waters issue from a British source,
Or hath not Pindus fed Thee, where the band
Of Patriots scoop their freedom out, with hand
Desperate as thine? Or come the incessant shocks
From that young Stream, that smites the throbbing rocks
Of Viamala? There I seem to stand,
As in Life's Morn; permitted to behold,
From the dread chasm, woods climbing above woods;
In pomp that fades not; everlasting snows;
And skies that ne'er relinquish their repose;
Such power possess the Family of floods
Over the minds of Poets, young or old!
"gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name."
THOUGH narrow be that Old Man's cares, and near
The poor Old Man is greater than he seems:
For he hath waking empire, wide as dreams;
An ample sovereignty of eye and ear.
Rich are his walks with supernatural cheer;
The region of his inner spirit teems
With vital sounds and monitory gleams
Of high astonishment and pleasing fear.
He the seven birds hath seen, that never part,
Seen the SEVEN WHISTLERS in their nightly rounds
And counted them: and oftentimes will start-
For overhead are sweeping GABRIEL'S HOUNDS,
Doomed, with their impious Lord, the flying Hart
To chase for ever, on aërial grounds!
STRANGE Visitation! at Jemima's lip
Thus hadst thou pecked, wild Redbreast! Love migi
A half-blown rose had tempted thee to sip
Its glistening dews; but hallowed is the clay
Which the Muse warms; and I, whose head is gray,
Am not unworthy of thy fellowship;
Nor could I let one thought-one motion-slip
That might thy sylvan confidence betray.
For are we not all His without whose care
Vouchsafed no sparrow falleth to the ground?
Who gives his Angels wings to speed through air,
And rolls the planets through the blue profound;
Then peck or perch, fond Flutterer! nor forbear
To trust a Poet in still vision bound.
WHEN Philoctetes in the Lemnian Isle
Lay couched ; —upon that breathless Monument,
On him, or on his fearful bow unbent,
Some wild Bird oft might settle and beguile
The rigid features of a transient smile,
Disperse the tear, or to the sigh give vent,
Slackening the pains of ruthless banishment
From home affections, and heroic toil.
Nor doubt that spiritual Creatures round us move,
Griefs to allay that Reason cannot heal;
And very Reptiles have sufficed to prove
To fettered Wretchedness, that no Bastile
Is deep enough to exclude the light of love,
Though Man for Brother Man has ceased to feel.