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BY THE SEA-SHORE, ISLE OF MAN.
WHY stand we gazing on the sparkling Brine
With wonder, smit by its transparency,
And all enraptured with its purity?
Because the unstained, the clear, the crystalline,
Have ever in them something of benign;
Whether in gem, in water, or in sky,
A sleeping infant's brow, or wakeful eye
Of a young maiden, only not divine.
Scarcely the hand forbears to dip its palm
For beverage drawn as from a mountain well:
Temptation centres in the liquid Calm;
Our daily raiment seems no obstacle
To instantaneous plunging in, deep Sea!
And revelling in long embrace with Thee.
ISLE OF MAN.
A YOUTH too certain of his power to wade
On the smooth bottom of this clear bright sea,
To sight so shallow, with a bather's glee
Leapt from this rock, and surely, had not aid
Been near, must soon have breathed out life, betrayed
By fondly trusting to an element
Fair, and to others more than innocent;
Then had sea-nymphs sung dirges for him laid
In peaceful earth: for, doubtless, he was frank,
Utterly in himself devoid of guile;
Knew not the double-dealing of a smile;
Nor aught that makes men's promises a blank,
Or deadly snare: and He survives to bless
The Power that saved him in his strange distress.
THE RETIRED MARINE OFFICER, ISLE OF MAN.
NOT pangs of grief for lenient time too keen,
Grief that devouring waves had caused, nor guilt
Which they had witnessed, swayed the man who built
This homestead, placed where nothing could be seen,
Nought heard of ocean, troubled or serene.
A tired Ship-soldier on paternal land,
That o'er the channel holds august command,
The dwelling raised, - -a veteran Marine;
Who, in disgust, turned from the neighbouring sea
To shun the memory of a listless life
That hung between two callings. May no strife
More hurtful here beset him, doomed, though free,
Self-doomed to worse inaction, till his eye
Shrink from the daily sight of earth and sky!
BY A RETIRED MARINER.
(A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR.)*
FROM early youth I ploughed the restless Main,
My mind as restless and as apt to change;
Through every clime and ocean did I range,
In hope at length a competence to gain;
For poor to Sea I went, and poor I still remain.
Year after year I strove, but strove in vain,
And hardships manifold did I endure,
For Fortune on me never deigned to smile;
Yet I at last a resting-place have found,
With just enough life's comforts to procure,
In a snug Cove on this our favoured Isle,
A peaceful spot where Nature's gifts abound;
Then sure I have no reason to complain,
Though poor to Sea I went, and poor I still remain.
AT BALA-SALA, ISLE OF MAN.
(SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR.)
BROKEN in fortune, but in mind entire
And sound in principle, I seek repose
Where ancient trees this convent-pile enclose,†
In ruin beautiful. When vain desire
Intrudes on peace, I pray the eternal Sire
To cast a soul-subduing shade on me,
A gray-haired, pensive, thankful Refugee,
A shade but with some sparks of heavenly fire
Once to these cells vouchsafed. And when I note
The old Tower's brow yellowed as with the beams
Of sunset ever there, albeit streams
Of stormy weather-stains that semblance wrought, I thank the silent Monitor, and say, "Shine so, my aged brow, at all hours of the day!"
ONCE on the top of Tynwald's formal mound
(Still marked with green turf circles narrowing
Stage above stage) would sit this Island's King
The laws to promulgate, enrobed and crowned;
While, compassing the little mount around,
Degrees and Orders stood, each under each:
Now, like to things within fate's easiest reach,
*This unpretending sonnet is by a gentleman nearly ownnect. ed with the author, who hopes, as it falls so easily into its place that both the writer and the reader will excuse its appearance here.
+ Rushen Abbey.
The glorious work of time and providence,
Before a flying season's rash pretence,
Should fall; that She, whose virtue put to shame,
When Europe prostrate lay, the Conqueror's aim,
Should perish, self-subverted. Black and dense
The cloud is; but brings that a day of doom
To Liberty? Her sun is up the while,
That orb whose beams round Saxon Alfred shone,
Then laugh, ye innocent Vales! ye Streams, sweep on,
Nor let one billow of our heaven-blest Isle
Toss in the fanning wind a humbler plume."
IN THE FRITH OF CLYDE, AILSA CRAG. (JULY 17, 1833.) SINCE riven from ocean, ocean to defy, Appeared the Crag of Ailsa: ne'er did morn With gleaming lights more gracefully adorn His sides, or wreathe with mist his forehead high: Now, faintly darkening with the sun's eclipse, Still is he seen, in lone sublimity, Towering above the sea and little ships; For dwarfs the tallest seem while sailing by Each for her haven; with her freight of Care, Pleasure, or Grief, and Toil that seldom looks Into the secret of to-morrow's fare; Though poor, yet rich, without the wealth of books, Or aught that watchful Love to Nature owes For her mute Powers, fixed Forms, and transient Shows.
The summit of this mountain is well chosen by Cowley, as the scene of the "Vision," in which the spectral angel discourses with him concerning the government of Oliver Cromwell. “I found myself,” says he, "on the top of that famous hill in the Island Monn, which has the prospect of three great, and not long since most happy, kingdoms. As soon as ever I looked upon them, they called forth the sad representation of all the sins and all the miseries that had overwhelmed them these twenty years." It is not to be denied that the changes now in progress, and the passions, and the way in which they work, strikingly resemble those which led to the disasters the philosophic writer so feel'ngly bewails. God grant that the resemblance may not become stall more striking as months and years advance!
ON THE FRITH OF CLYDE.
(IN A STEAM-BOAT.)
ARRAN! a single-crested Teneriffe,
A St. Helena next-in shape and hue,
Varying her crowded peaks and ridges blue;
Who but must covet a cloud-seat or skiff
Built for the air, or winged Hippogriff,
That he might fly, where no one could pursue,
From this dull Monster and her sooty crew;
And, like a God, light on thy topmost cliff.
Impotent wish! which reason would despise
If the mind knew no union of extremes,
No natural bond between the boldest schemes
Ambition frames, and heart-humilities.
Beneath stern mountains many a soft vale lics,
And lofty springs give birth to lowly streams.
ON REVISITING DUNOLLY CASTLE.t
[See Sonnet IX. of former series, p. 255.
THE captive Bird was gone;-to cliff or moor
Perchance had flown, delivered by the storm;
Or he had pined, and sunk to feed the worm:
Him found we not; but, climbing a tall tower,
There saw, impaved with rude fidelity
Of art mosaic, in a roofless floor,
An Eagle with stretched wings, but beamless eye-
An Eagle that could neither wail nor soar.
Effigies of the Vanished, (shall I dare
To call thee so ?) or symbol of past times,
That towering courage, and the savage deeds
Those times were proud of, take Thou too a share.
Not undeserved, of the memorial rhymes
That, animate my way where'er it leads!
THE DUNOLLY EAGLE.
Nor to the clouds, not to the cliff, he flew;
But when a storm, on sea or mountain bred,
Came and delivered him, alone he sped
Into the Castle-dungeon's darkest mew.
Now, near his Master's house in open view.
He dwells, and hears indignant tempests howl,
Kennelled and chained. Ye tame domestic Fowl,
Beware of him! Thou, saucy Cockatoo,
+ This ingenious piece of workmanship, as the author afterwards learned, had been executed for their own amusement by some labourers employed about the place.
Look to thy plumage and thy life! - The Roe, Fleet as the west wind, is for him no quarry; Balanced in ether, he will never tarry,
Eying the sea's blue depths. Poor Bird! even so
Doth Man of Brother-man a creature make,
That clings to slavery for its own sad sake.
CAVE OF STAFFA.
WE saw, but surely, in the motley crowd,
Not One of us has felt, the far-famed sight;
How could we feel it? each the other's blight,
Hurried and hurrying, volatile and loud.
O for those motions only that invite
The Ghost of Fingal to his tuneful Cave!
By the breeze entered, and wave after wave
Softly embosoming the timid light
And by one Votary who at will might stand
Gazing, and take into his mind and heart,
With undistracted reverence, the effect
Of those proportions where the almighty hand
That made the worlds, the sovereign Architect,
Has deigned to work as if with human Art!
CAVE OF STAFFA.*
THANKS for the lessons of this Spot-fit school
For the presumptuous thoughts that would assign
Mechanic laws to agency divine;
And, measuring heaven by earth, would overrule
Infinite Power. The pillared vestibule,
Expanding yet precise, the roof embowed,
Might seem designed to humble Man, when proud
Of his best workmanship by plan and tool.
Down-bearing with his whole Atlantic weight
Of tide and tempest on the Structure's base,
And flashing upwards to its topmost height,
Ocean has proved its strength, and of its grace
In calms is conscious, finding for his freight
Of softest music some responsive place.
CAVE OF STAFFA.
YE shadowy Beings, that have rights and claims
In every cell of Fingal's mystic Grot,
Where are ye? Driven or venturing to the spot,
The reader may be tempted to exclaim, "How came this and the two following sonnets to be written, after the dissatisfaction expressed in the preceding one?" In fact, at the risk of incurring the reasonable displeasure of the master of the steam-boat, the author returned to the cave, and explored it under circum. stances more favourable to those imaginative impressions, which It is so wonderfully fitted to make upon the mind.
Our Fathers glimpses caught of your thin Frames,
And, by your mien and bearing, knew your names;
And they could hear his ghostly song who trod
Earth, till the flesh lay on him like a load,
While he struck his desolate harp without hopes of
Vanished ye are, but subject to recall;
Why keep we else the instincts whose dread law Ruled here of yore, till what men felt they saw, Not by black arts but magic natural!
If eyes be still sworn vassals of belief,
Yon light shapes forth a Bard, that shade a Chief.
FLOWERS ON THE TOP OF THE PILLARS AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE CAVE.
HOPE Smiled when your nativity was cast,
Children of Summer!t Ye fresh flowers that brave
What Summer here escapes not, the fierce wave,
And whole artillery of the western blast,
Battering the Temple's front, its long-drawn nare
Smiting, as if each moment were their last.
But ye, bright flowers, on frieze and architrave
Survive, and once again the Pile stands fast,
Calm as the Universe, from specular Towers
Of heaven contemplated by Spirits pure-
Suns and their systems, diverse yet sustained
In symmetry, and fashioned to endure,
Unhurt, the assault of Time with all his hours,
As the supreme Artificer ordained.
ON to Iona! -What can she afford
To us save matter for a thoughtful sigh,
Heaved over ruin with stability
In urgent contrast? To diffuse the WORD
(Thy Paramount, mighty Nature! and Time's Lord)
Her Temples rose, 'mid pagan gloom; but why,
Even for a moment, has our verse deplored
Their wrongs, since they fulfilled their destiny?
And when, subjected to a common doom
Of mutability, those far-famed Piles
Shall disappear from both the sister Isles,
Iona's Saints, forgetting not past days,
Garlands shall wear of amaranthine bloom,
While heaven's vast sea of voices chants their praise.
Upon the head of the columns which form the front of the cave, rests a body of decomposed basaltic matter, which was richly decorated with that large bright flower, the ox-eyed daisy. The author had noticed the same flower growing with profusion among the bold rocks on the western coast of the Isle of Man; making a brilliant contrast with their black and gloomy
WITH earnest look, to every voyager,
Some ragged child holds up for sale his store
Of wave-worn pebbles, pleading on the shore
Where once came monk and nun with gentle stir,
Blessings to give, news ask, or suit prefer.
But see yon neat trim church, a grateful speck
Of novelty amid this sacred wreck-
A grace by thee unsought and unpossest,
A faith more fixed, a rapture more divine
Shall gild their passage to eternal rest."
THE BLACK STONES OF IONA.
[See Martin's Voyage among the Western Isles.]
HERE on their knees men swore: the stones were
Black in the People's minds and words, yet they
Were at that time, as now, in colour gray.
But what is colour, if upon the rack
Of conscience souls are placed by deeds that lack
Concord with oaths? What differ night and day
Then, when before the Perjured on his way
Hell opens, and the heavens in vengeance crack
Above his head uplifted in vain prayer
To Saint, or Fiend, or to the Godhead whom
He had insulted Peasant, King, or Thane.
Fly where the culprit may, guilt meets a doom;
And, from invisible worlds at need laid bare,
Come links for social order's awful chain.
Nay, spare thy scorn, haughty Philosopher!
Fallen though she be, this Glory of the west,
Still on her sons the beams of mercy shine;
And "hopes, perhaps more heavenly bright than thine, Where be the wretched Ones, the sights for pity?
We have not passed into a doleful City,
We who were led to-day down a grim Dell,
By some too boldly named "the Jaws of Hell:"
These crowded streets resound no plaintive ditty:
As from the hive where bees in summer dwell,
Sorrow seems here excluded; and that knell,
It neither damps the gay, nor checks the witty.
Too busy Mart! thus fared it with old Tyre,
Whose Merchants Princes were, whose decks were
HOMEWARD We turn. Isle of Columba's Cell,
Where Christian piety's soul-cheering spark
(Kindled from Heaven between the light and dark
Of time) shone like the morning-star, farewell! -
Remote St. Kilda, art thou visible?
No- but farewell to thee, beloved sea-mark
For many a voyage made in Fancy's bark,
When, with more hues than in the rainbow dwell,
Thou a mysterious intercourse dost hold;
Extracting from clear skies and air serene,
And out of sun-bright waves, a lucid veil,
The four last lines of this sonnet are adopted from a wellknown sonnet of Russel, as conveying the author's feeling bet
words of his own could do.
That thickens, spreads, and, mingling fold with fold
Makes known, when thou no longer canst be seen,
Thy whereabout, to warn the approaching sail.
Per me si va nella Città dolente.
Soon may the punctual sea in vain respire
To serve thy need, in union with that Clyde
Whose nursling current brawls o'er mossy stones,
The poor, the lonely Herdsinan's joy and pride.
"THERE!" said a Stripling, pointing with meet pride
Towards a low roof with green trees half concealed
"Is Mossgiel farm; and that's the very field
Where Burns ploughed up the Daisy." Far and wide
A plain below stretched sea-ward, while, descried
Above sea-clouds, the Peaks of Arran rose;
And, by that simple notice, the repose
Of earth, sky, sea, and air, was vivified.
Beneath "the random bield of clod or stone"
Myriads of Daisies have shone forth in flower
Near the lark's nest, and in their natural hour
Have passed away, less happy than the One
That by the unwilling ploughshare died to prove
The tender charm of Poetry and Love.
FANCY AND TRADITION.
THE Lovers took within this ancient grove
Their last embrace; beside those crystal springs
The Hermit saw the Angel spread his wings
For instant flight; the Sage in yon alcove
Sate musing; on that hill the Bard would rove,
Not mute, where now the Linnet only sings:
Thus everywhere to truth Tradition clings,
Or Fancy localises Powers we love.
Were only History licensed to take note
Of things gone by, her meagre monuments
Would ill suffice for persons and events:
There is an ampler page for man to quote,
A readier book of manifold contents,
Studied alike in palace and in cot.
THE RIVER EDEN, CUMBERLAND. EDEN! till now thy beauty had I viewed By glimpses only, and confess with shame That verse of mine, whate'er its varying mood, Repeats but once the sound of thy sweet name; Yet fetched from Paradise* that honour came, Rightfully borne; for Nature gives thee flowers. That have no rivals among British bowers; And thy bold rocks are worthy of their fame. Measuring thy course, fair Stream! at length I pay To my life's neighbour dues of neighbourhood; But I have traced thee on thy winding way With pleasure sometimes by the thought restrained That things far off are toiled for, while a good Not sought, because too near, is seldom gained.
MONUMENT OF MRS. HOWARD, (By Nollekins,)
IN WETHERAL CHURCH, NEAR CORBY, ON THE BANKS OF THE EDEN.
STRETCHED on the dying Mother's lap, lies dead
Her new-born Babe, dire issue of bright hope!
But Sculpture here, with the divinest scope
Of luminous faith heavenward hath raised that head
So patiently; and through one hand has spread
A touch so tender for the insensate Child,
Earth's lingering love to parting reconciled;
Brief parting-for the spirit is all but fled;
That we, who contemplate the turns of life
Through this still medium, are consoled and cheered;
Feel with the Mother, think the severed Wife
Is less to be lamented than revered;
And own that Art, triumphant over strife
And pain, hath powers to Eternity endeared.
TRANQUILLITY! the sovereign aim wert thou
In heathen schools of philosophic lore;
Heart-stricken by stern destiny of yore
The Tragic Muse thee served with thoughtful vow;
And what of hope Elysium could allow
Was fondly seized by Sculpture, to restore
Peace to the Mourner's soul; but He who wore
The crown of thorns around his bleeding brow
Warmed our sad being with his glorious light:
Then Arts, which still had drawn a softening grace
From shadowy fountains of the Infinite,
Communed with that Idea face to face;
And move around it now as planets run,
Each in its orbit, round the central Sun.
It is to be feared that there is more of the poet than the sound etymologist in this derivation of the name Eden. On the western coast of Cumberland is a rivulet which enters the sea at Moresby, known also in the neighbourhood by the name of Eden. May not the latter syllable come from the word Dean, A valley? Langdale, near Ambleside, is by the inhabitants called Langden. The former syllable occurs in the name Eamont, a principal feeder of the Eden; and the stream which flows when the tide is out, over Cartmel Sands, is called the Ea.
THE floods are roused, and will not soon be weary;
Down from the Pennine Alpst how fiercely sweeps
CROGLIN, the stately Eden's tributary!
He raves, or through some moody passage creeps
Plotting new mischief— out again he leaps
Into broad light, and sends, through regions airy,
That voice which soothed the Nuns while on the
They knelt in prayer, or sang to blissful Mary.
That union ceased: then, cleaving easy walks
Through crags, and smoothing paths beset with danger,
Came studious Taste; and many a pensive Stranger
Dreams on the banks, and to the river talks.
What change shall happen next to Nunnery Dell?
Canal, and Viaduct, and Railway, tell!
STEAMBOATS, VIADUCTS, AND RAILWAYS.
MOTIONS and Means, on land and sea at war
With old poetic feeling, not for this,
Shall ye, by Poets even, be judged amiss!
Nor shall your presence, howsoe'er it mar
The loveliness of Nature, prove a bar
To the Mind's gaining that prophetic sense
Of future change, that point of vision whence
May be discovered what in soul ye are.
In spite of all that beauty may disown
In your harsh features, Nature doth embrace
+ The chain of Crossfell, which parts Cumberland and Westmoreland from Northumberland and Durham.
At Corby, a few miles below Nunnery, the Eden is crossed by a magnificent viaduct; and another of these works is thrown over a deep glen or ravine at a very short distance from the