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AT THE EREMITE OR UPPER CONVENT OF CAMALDOLI.' And now, ye Miltonian shades! under you
WHAT aim had they, the Pair of Monks, in size
Enormous, dragged, while side by side they sate,
By panting steers up to this convent gate?
How, with empurpled cheeks and pampered eyes,
Dare they confront the lean austerities
Of Brethren who, here fixed, on Jesu wait
In sackcloth, and God's anger deprecate
Through all that humbles flesh and mortifies?
Strange contrast! - verily the world of dreams,
Where mingle, as for mockery combined,
Things in their very essences at strife,
Shows not a sight incongruous as the extremes
That everywhere, before the thoughtful mind,
Meet on the solid ground of waking life.*
Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
Vallambrosa, where Etrurian shades
High over-arch'd embower.†
The Monks still repeat the tradition with pride,
And its truth who shall doubt? for his Spirit is here;
In the cloud-piercing rocks doth her grandeur abide,
In the pines pointing heavenward her beauty austere;
In the flower-besprent meadows his genius we trace
Turned to humbler delights, in which youth might
UNDER the shadow of a stately Pile
The dome of Florence, pensive and alone,
Nor giving heed to aught that passed the while,
I stood and gazed upon a marble stone,
The laurelled Dante's favourite seat. A throne,
In just esteem, it rivals; though no style
Be there of decoration to beguile
"VALLOMBROSA-I longed in thy shadiest wood
To slumber, reclined on the moss-covered floor!"
Fond wish that was granted at last, and the Flood,
That lulled me asleep, bids me listen once more,
Its murmur how soft! as it falls down the steep,
Near that Cell-yon sequestered Retreat high in air-As a true man, who long had served the lyre,
Where our Milton was wont lonely vigils to keep
I gazed with earnestness, and dared no more.
For converse with God, sought through study and But in his breast the mighty Poet bore
The mind, depressed by thought of greatness flown.
A Patriot's heart, warm with undying fire.
Bold with the thought, in reverence I sate down,
And, for a moment, filled that empty Throne.
When with life lengthened out came a desolate time,
And darkness and danger had compassed him round,
With a thought he would flee to these haunts of his
And here once again a kind shelter be found.
And let me believe that when nightly the Muse
Did waft him to Sion, the glorified hill,
Here also, on some favoured height, he would choose
To wander and drink inspiration at will.
I repose, nor am forced from sweet fancy to part,
While your leaves I behold and the brooks they will
And the realized vision is clasped to my heart.
Vallambrosa! of thee I first heard in the page
Or that holiest of Bards, and the name for my mind
Had a musical charm, which the winter of age
And the changes it brings had no power to unbind.
Even so, and unblamed, we rejoice as we may
In Forms that must perish, frail objects of sense;
Unblamed-if the soul be intent on the day
When the Being of Beings shall summon her hence.
For he and he only with wisdom is blest
Who, gathering true pleasures wherever they grow,
Looks up in all places, for joy or for rest,
To the Fountain whence Time and Eternity flow.
Where, if Sin had not entered, Love never had died.
THE Baptist might have been ordain'd to cry That would yield him fit help while prefiguring that Forth from the towers of that huge Pile, wherein place His Father served Jehovah; but how win Due audience, how for aught but scorn defy The obstinate pride and wanton revelry Of the Jerusalem below, her sin And folly, if they with united din Drown not at once mandate and prophecy? Therefore the Voice spake from the Desert, thence To Her, as to her opposite in peace, Silence, and holiness, and innocence, To Her and to all Lands its warning sent, Crying with earnestness that might not cease, "Make straight a highway for the Lord
BEFORE THE PICTURE OF THE BAPTIST, BY RAPHAEL,
IN THE GALLERY AT FLORENCE.
AT FLORENCE.-FROM MICHAEL ANGELO
RAPT above earth by power of one fair face,
Hers in whose sway alone my heart delights,
• See Note.
See for the two first lines, "Stanzas composed in the I mingle with the blest on those pure heights
Simplon Pass," p. 287.-See Note.
Where Man, yet mortal, rarely finds a place
With Him who made the Work that Work accords
So well, that by its help and through his grace
I raise my thoughts, inform my deeds and words,
Clasping her beauty in my soul's embrace.
Thus, if from two fair eyes mine cannot turn,
I feel how in their presence doth abide
Light which to God is both the way and guide;
And, kindling at their lustre, if I burn,
My noble fire emits the joyful ray
That through the realins of glory shines for aye.
AT FLORENCE. - FROM M. ANGELO.
ETERNAL Lord! eased of a cumbrous load,
And loosened from the world, I turn to Thee;
Shun, like a shattered bark, the storm, and flee
To thy protection for a safe abode.
The crowns of thorns, hands pierced upon the tree,
The meek, benign, and lacerated face,
To a sincere repentance promised grace,
To the sad soul give hope of pardon free.
With justice mark not Thou, O Light divine,
My fault, nor hear it with thy sacred ear;
Neither put forth that way thy arm severe;
Wash with thy blood my sins; thereto incline
More readily the more my years require
Help, and forgiveness speedy and entire.
As indignation mastered grief, my tongue
Spake bitter words; words that did ill agree
With those rich stores of Nature's imagery,
And divine Art, that fast to memory clung -
Thy gifts, magnificent Region, ever young
In the sun's eye, and in his sister's sight
How beautiful! how worthy to be sung
In strains of rapture, or subdued delight!
I feign not; witness that unwelcome shock
That followed the first sound of German speech,
Caught the far-winding barrier Alps among.
In that announcement, greeting seemed to mock
Parting; the casual word had power to reach
My heart, and filled that heart with conflict strong.
COMPOSED AT RYDAL ON MAY MORNING, 1838.
IF with old love of you, dear Hills! I share
New love of many a rival image brought
From far, forgive the wanderings of my thought:
Nor art thou wronged, sweet May! when I compare
Thy present birth-morn with thy last, so fair,
So rich to me in favours. For my lot
Then was, within the famed Egerian Grot
To sit and muse, fanned by its dewy air
Mingling with thy soft breath! That morning too,
Warblers I heard their joy unbosoming
Amid the sunny, shadowy Coliseum;
Heard them, unchecked by aught of saddening hue,
For victories there won by flower-crowned Spring,
Chant in full choir their innocent Te Deum.
THE PILLAR OF TRAJAN.
WHERE towers are crushed, and unforbidden weeds
O'er mutilated arches shed their seeds;
And temples, doomed to milder change, unfold
A new magnificence that vies with old;
Firm in its pristine majesty hath stood
A votive Column, spared by fire and flood:-
And, though the passions of man's fretful race
Have never ceased to eddy round its base,
Not injured more by touch of meddling hands
Than a lone obelisk, 'mid Nubian sands,
Or aught in Syrian deserts left to save
From death the memory of the good and brave.
Historic figures round the shaft embost
Ascend, with lineaments in air not lost:
Still as he turns, the charmed spectator sees
Group winding after group with dream-like ease;
Triumphs in sunbright gratitude displayed,
Or softly stealing into modest shade.
- So, pleased with purple clusters to entwine Some lofty elm-tree, mounts the daring vine; The woodbine so, with spiral grace, and breathes Wide-spreading odours from her flowery wreaths.
Borne by the Muse from rills in shepherd's ears Murmuring but one smooth story for all years, I gladly commune with the mind and heart Of him who thus survives by classic art, His actions witness, venerate his mien, And study Trajan as by Pliny seen; Behold how fought the Chief whose conquering sword Stretched far as earth might own a single lord; In the delight of moral prudence schooled, How feelingly at home the Sovereign ruled;
Memorial Pillar! 'mid the wrecks of Time
Preserve thy charge with confidence sublime -
The exultations, pomps, and cares of Rome,
Whence half the breathing world received its doom;
Things that recoil from language; that, if shown
By apter pencil, from the light had flown.
A Pontiff, Trajan here the Gods implores,
There greets an Embassy from Indian shores;
Lo! he harangues his cohorts- there the storm
Of battle meets him in authentic form!
Unharnessed, naked, troops of Moorish horse
Sweep to the charge; more high, the Dacian force,
To hoof and finger mailed; yet, high or low,
None bleed, and none lie prostrate but the foe;
In every Roman, through all turns of fate
Is Roman dignity inviolate;
Spirit in him pre-eminent, who guides, Supports, adorns, and over all presides; Distinguished only by inherent state
From honoured Instruments that round him wait;
Rise as he may, his grandeur scorns the test
Of outward symbol, nor will deign to rest
On aught by which another is deprest.
-Alas! that one thus disciplined could toil
To enslave whole nations on their native soil;
So emulous of Macedonian fume,
That, when his age was measured with his aim,
He drooped, 'mid else unclouded victories,
And turned his eagles back with deep-drawn sighs:
O weakness of the Great! O folly of the Wise!
Where now the haughty Empire that was spread With such fond hope? her very speech is dead; Yet glorious Art the power of Time defies, And Trajan still, through various enterprise, Mounts, in this fine illusion, toward the skies: Still are we present with the imperial Chief, Nor cease to gaze upon the bold Relief Till Rome, to silent marble unconfined, Becomes with all her years a vision of the Mind.
Here and infra, see Forsyth.
THE WHITE DOE OF RYLSTONE;
They that deny a God, destroy Man's nobility: for certainly Man is of kinn to the Beasts by his Body; and if he be not of kinn to God by his Spirit, he is a base ignoble Creature. It destroys likewise Magnanimity, and the raising of humane Nature: for take an example of a Dogg, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on, when ha finds himself maintained by a Man, who to him is instead of a God, or Melior Natura. Which courage is manifestly such, as that Creature without that confidence of a better Nature than his own could never attain. So Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon Divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human Nature in itself could not obtain."LORD BACON.
DURING the Summer of 1807, the Author visited, | Fair fruit of pleasure and serene content for the first time, the beautiful scenery that surrounds From blossoms wild of fancies innocent. Bolton Priory, in Yorkshire; and the Poem of the WHITE DOE, founded upon a Tradition connected with the place, was composed at the close of the same year.*
IN trellised shed with clustering roses gay,
And, MARY! oft beside our blazing fire,
When years of wedded life were as a day
Whose current answers to the heart's desire,
Did we together read in Spenser's Lay
How Una, sad of soul-in sad attire,
The gentle Una, born of heavenly birth,
To seek her Knight went wandering o'er the earth.
Ah, then, Beloved! pleasing was the smart,
And the tear precious in compassion shed
For Her, who, pierced by sorrow's thrilling dart,
Did meekly bear the pang unmerited;
Meek as that emblem of her lowly heart
The milk-white Lamb which in a line she led, —
And faithful, loyal in her innocence,
Like the brave Lion slain in her defence.
Notes could we hear as of a faery shell
Attuned to words with sacred wisdom fraught;
Free Fancy prized each specious miracle,
And all its finer inspiration caught;
Till in the bosom of our rustic Cell,
We by a lamentable change were taught
That "bliss with mortal Man may not abide ;"-
How nearly joy and sorrow are allied!
For us the stream of fiction ceased to flow,
For us the voice of melody was mute.
-But, as soft gales dissolve the dreary snow,
And give the timid herbage leave to shoot,
Heaven's breathing influence failed not to bestow
A timely promise of unlooked-for fruit,
It soothed us- it beguiled us then, to hear,
Once more, of troubles wrought by magic spell;
And griefs whose aery motion comes not near
The pangs that tempt the Spirit to rebel;
Then, with mild Una in her sober cheer,
High over hill and low adown the dell
Again we wandered, willing to partake
All that she suffered for her dear Lord's sake.
Then, too, this Song of mine once more could please,
Where anguish, strange as dreams of restless sleep,
Is tempered and allayed by sympathies
Aloft ascending, and descending deep,
Even to the inferior Kinds; whom forest trees
Protect from beating sunbeams, and the sweep
Of the sharp winds; -fair Creatures!-to whom
A calm and sinless life, with love, hath given.
This tragic Story cheered us; for it speaks
Of female patience winning firm repose;
And of the recompense which conscience seeks
A bright, encouraging example shows;
Needful when o'er wide realms the tempest breaks,
Needful amid life's ordinary woes; -
Hence, not for them unfitted who would bless
A happy hour with holier happiness.
He serves the Muses erringly and ill,
Whose aim is pleasure light and fugitive:
O, that my mind were equal to fulfil
The comprehensive mandate which they give-
Vain aspiration of an earnest will!
Yet in this moral Strain a power may live,
Beloved Wife! such solace to impart
As it hath yielded to thy tender heart.
RYDAL MOUNT, WESTMORELAND,
April 20, 1815.
FROM Bolton's old monastic tower*
The bells ring loud with gladsome power;
The sun is bright; the fields are gay
With people in their best array
Of stole and doublet, hood and scarf,
Along the banks of crystal Wharf,
Through the Vale retired and lowly,
Trooping to that summons holy.
And, up among the moorlands, see
What sprinklings of blithe company!
Of lasses and of shepherd grooms,
That down the steep hills force their way,
Like cattle through the budded brooms;
Path, or no path, what care they?
And thus in joyous mood they hie
To Bolton's mouldering Priory.
What would they there? - Full fifty years
That sumptuous Pile, with all its peers,
Too harshly hath been doomed to taste
The bitterness of wrong and waste:
Its courts are ravaged; but the tower
Is standing with a voice of power,
That ancient voice which wont to call
To mass or some high festival;
And in the shattered fabric's heart
Remaineth one protected part;
A rural Chapel, neatly drest,†
In covert like a little nest;
And thither young and old repair,
This Sabbath-day, for praise and prayer.
*It is to be regretted that at the present day Bolton Abbey wants this ornament; but the Poem, according to the imagination of the Poet, is composed in Queen Elizabeth's time. "For merly," says Dr. Whitaker, "over the Transept was a tower. This is proved not only from the mention of bells at the Dissolution, when they could have had no other place, but from the pointed roof of the choir, which must have terminated westward, in some building of superior height to the ridge."
They sing a service which they feel;
For 't is the sunrise now of zea.,
And faith and hope are in their prime
In great Eliza's golden time.
A moment ends the fervent din,
And all is hushed, without and within;
For though the priest, more tranquilly,
Recites the holy liturgy,
The only voice which you can hear
Is the river murmuring near.
-When soft!the dusky trees between,
And down the path through the open green,
Where is no living thing to be seen;
And through yon gateway, where is found,
Beneath the arch with ivy bound,
Free entrance to the church-yard ground;
And right across the verdant sod
Towards the very house of God;
-Comes gliding in with lovely gleam,
Comes gliding in serene and slow,
Soft and silent as a dream,
A solitary Doe!
White she is as lily of June,
And beauteous as the silver moon
When out of sight the clouds are driven
And she is left alone in heaven;
Or like a ship some gentle day
In sunshine sailing far away,
A glittering ship, that hath the plain Of ocean for her own domain.
Lie silent in your graves, ye dead!
Lie quiet in your church-yard bed!
Ye living, tend your holy cares;
Ye multitude, pursue your prayers;
And blame not me if my heart and sight
Are occupied with one delight!
"T is a work for sabbath hours
If I with this bright Creature go:
Whether she be of forest bowers,
From the bowers of earth below;
Or a Spirit, for one day given,
A gift of grace from purest heaven.
What harmonious pensive changes
Wait upon her as she ranges
Round and through this Pile of state,
Overthrown and desolate!
Now a step or two her way
Is through space of open day,
Where the enamoured sunny light
Brightens her that was so bright;
Now doth a delicate shadow fall,
her like a breath,
From some lofty arch or wall,
As she passes underneath: