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That spreads no waste;- -a social builder: one
In whom all busy offices unite
With all fine functions that afford delight,
Safe through the winter storm in quiet dwells!
And is She brought within the power
Of vision? - o'er this tempting flower
Hovering until the petals stay
Her flight, and take its voice away!·
Observe each wing! -a tiny van!
The structure of her laden thigh,
How fragile! yet of ancestry
Mysteriously remote and high;
High as the imperial front of man,
The roseate bloom on woman's cheek;
The soaring eagle's curved beak
The white plumes of the floating swan;
Old as the tiger's paw, the lion's mane
Ere shaken by that mood of stern disdain
At which the desert trembles. Humming Bee!
Thy sting was needless then, perchance unknown;
The seeds of malice were not sown;
All creatures met in peace, from fierceness free,
And no pride blended with their dignity.
-Tears had not broken from their source;
Nor anguish strayed from her Tartarian den;
The golden years maintained a course
Not undiversified, though smooth and even;
We were not mocked with glimpse and shadow,-then
Bright Seraphs mixed familiarly with men;
And earth and stars composed a universal heaven!
ODE TO LYCORIS.
AN age hath been when Earth was proud
Of lustre too intense
To be sustained; and Mortals bowed
The front in self-defence.
Who then, if Dian's crescent gleamed,
Or Cupid's sparkling arrow streamed
While on the wing the Urchin played,
Could fearlessly approach the shade?
Enough for one soft vernal day,
If I, a Bard of ebbing time,
And nurtured in a fickle clime,
May haunt this horned bay;
Whose amorous water multiplies
The flitting halcyon's vivid dyes;
And smooths her liquid breast-to show
These swan-like specks of mountain snow,
White as the pair that slid along the plains
Of Heaven, when Venus held the reins!
In youth we love the darksome lawn
Brushed by the owlet's wing;
Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn,
And Autumn to the Spring.
Sad fancies do we then affect,
In luxury of disrespect
To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Lycoris (if such name befit
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign!)
When Nature marks the year's decline,
Be ours to welcome it;
Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
Before the path of milder suns;
Pleased while the sylvan world displays
Its ripeness to the feeding gaze;
Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
Of the resplendent miracle.
But something whispers to my heart
That, as we downward tend,
Lycoris! life requires an art
To which our souls must bend;
A skill to balance and supply;
And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
As soon it must, a sense to sip,
Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
Frank greeting, then, to that blithe Guest
Diffusing smiles o'er land and sea
To aid the vernal Deity
Whose home is in the breast!
May pensive Autumn ne'er present
A claim to her disparagement!
While blossoms and the budding spray
Inspire us in our own decay;
Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark gaol,
Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!
TO THE SAME.
ENOUGH of climbing toil!- Ambition treads
Here, as 'mid busier scenes, ground steep and rough,
Or slippery even to peril! and each step,
As we for most uncertain recompense
Mount tow'rd the empire of the fickle clouds,
Each weary step, dwarfing the world below,
Induces, for its own familiar sights,
Unacceptable feelings of contempt,
With wonder mixed that Man could e'er be tied,
In anxious bondage, to such nice array
And formal fellowship of petty things!
-Oh! 't is the heart that magnifies this life,
Making a truth and beauty of her own;
And moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades,
And gurgling rills, assist her in the work More efficaciously than realms outspread, As in a map, before the adventurer's gaze Ocean and Farth contending for regard.
The umbrageous woods are left-how far beneath!
But lo! where darkness seems to guard the mouth
Of yon wild cave, whose jagged brows are fringed
With flaccid threads of ivy, in the still
And sultry air, depending motionless.
Yet cool the space within, and not uncheered
(As whoso enters shall ere long perceive)
By stealthy influx of the timid day
Mingling with night, such twilight to compose
As Numa loved; when, in the Egerian Grot,
From the sage Nymph appearing at his wish,
He gained whate'er a regal mind might ask,
Or need, of council breathed through lips divine.
Long as the heat shall rage, let that dim cave
Protect us, there deciphering as we may
Diluvian records; or the sighs of Earth
Interpreting; or counting for old Time
His minutes, by reiterated drops,
Audible tears, from some invisible source
That deepens upon fancy - more and more
Drawn tow'rd the centre whence those sighs creep forth
To awe the lightness of humanity.
Or, shutting up thyself within thyself, There let me see thee sink into a mood
Of gentler thought, protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone,
And no one can tell whither. Dearest Friend!
We two have known such happy hours together,
That, were power granted to replace them (fetched
From out the pensive shadows where they lie)
In the first warmth of their original sunshine,
Loth should I be to use it: passing sweet
Are the domains of tender memory!
COMPOSED ON MAY MORNING.
WHILE from the purpling east departs
The Star that led the dawn,
Blithe Flora from her couch upstarts,
For May is on the lawn.
A quickening hope, a freshening glee,
Foreran the expected Power,
Whose first-drawn breath, from bush and tree,
Shakes off that pearly shower.
All Nature welcomes Her whose sway
Tempers the year's extremes;
Who scattereth lustres o'er noon-day,
Like morning's dewy gleams;
Up from their native ground they rise In mute uërial harmonies;
From humble violet, modest thyme,
Exhaled, the essential odours climb,
As if no space below the sky
Their subtle flight could satisfy:
Heaven will not tax our thoughts with pride
If like ambition be their guide.
Roused by this kindliest of May-showers,
The spirit-quickener of the flowers,
That with moist virtue softly cleaves
The buds, and freshens the young leaves,
The Birds pour forth their souls in note
Of rapture from a thousand throats,
Here checked by too impetuous haste,
While there the music runs to waste,
With bounty more and more enlarged,
Till the whole air is overcharged;
Give ear, O Man! to their appeal
And thirst for no inferior zeal,
Thou, who canst think, as well as feel.
Mount from the earth; aspire! aspire!
So pleads the town's cathedral choir,
In strains that from their solemn height
Sink, to attain a loftier flight;
While incense from the altar breathes
Rich fragrance in embodied wreaths;
Or, flung from swinging censer, shrouds
The taper lights, and curls in clouds
Around angelic Forms, the still
Creation of the painter's skill,
That on the service wait concealed
One moment, and the next revealed.
Cast off your bonds, awake, arise,
And for no transient ecstasies!
What else can mean the visual plea
Of still or moving imagery?
The iterated summons loud,
Not wasted on the attendant crowd, Nor wholly lost upon the throng Hurrying the busy streets along?
Alas! the sanctities combined
By art to unsensualise the mind,
Decay and languish; or, as creeds
And humours change, are spurned like weeds:*
The solemn rites, the awful forms,
Founder amid fanatic storms;
The priests are from their altars thrust,
The temples levelled with the dust:
Yet evermore, through years renewed
In undisturbed vicissitude
Of seasons balancing their flight
On the swift wings of day and night,
Kind Nature keeps a heavenly door
Wide open for the scattered Poor.
Where flower-breathed incense to the skies
Is wafted in mute harmonies;
And ground fresh cloven by the plough
Is fragrant with a humbler vow;
Where birds and brooks from leafy dells
Chime forth unwearied canticles,
And vapours magnify and spread
The glory of the sun's bright head;
Still constant in her worship, still
Conforming to the Almighty Will,
Whether men sow or reap the fields,
Her admonitions Nature yields;
That not by bread alone we live,
Or what a hand of flesh can give;
That every day should leave some part
Free for a sabbath of the heart;
So shall the seventh be truly blest, From morn to eve, with hallowed rest.
THE PRIMROSE OF THE ROCK.
A Rock there is whose homely front
The passing Traveller slights;
Yet there the Glow-worms hang their lamps,
Like stars, at various heights;
And one coy Primrose to that Rock
The vernal breeze invites.
What hideous warfare hath been waged,
What kingdoms overthrown,
Since first I spied that Primrose-tuft
And marked it for my own;
A lasting link in Nature's chain
From highest heaven let down!
The Flowers, still faithful to the stems,
Their fellowship renew;
The stems are faithful to the root,
That worketh out of view;
And to the rock the root adheres,
In every fibre true.
Close clings to earth the living rock, Though threatening still to fall;
The earth is constant to her sphere; And God upholds them all:
So blooms this lonely Plant, nor dreads Her annual funeral.
Here closed the meditative Strain;
But air breathed soft that day,
The hoary mountain-heights were cheered,
The sunny vale looked gay;
And to the Primrose of the Rock I gave this after-lay.
I sang, Let myriads of bright flowers,
Like Thee, in field and grove
Revive unenvied, — mightier far
Than tremblings that reprove
Our vernal tendencies to hope
In God's redeeming love:
That love which changed, for wan disease,
For sorrow that had bent
O'er hopeless dust, for withered age,
Their moral element,
And turned the thistles of a curse
To types beneficent.
Sin-blighted though we are, we too, The reasoning Sons of Men, From one oblivious winter called
Shall rise, and breathe again, And in eternal summer lose
Our threescore years and ten.
To humbleness of heart descends
This prescience from on high,
The faith that elevates the Just,
Before and when they die;
And makes each soul a separate heaven, A court for Deity.
THOUGHT ON THE SEASONS.
FLATTERED with promise of escape
From every hurtful blast,
Spring takes, O sprightly May! thy shape,
Her loveliest and her last.
Less fair is summer riding high In fierce solstitial power,
Less fair than when a lenient sky Brings on her parting hour.
When earth repays with golden sheaves The labours of the plough,
And ripening fruits and forest leaves All brighten on the bough,
What pensive beauty autumn shows, Before she hears the sound
Of winter rushing in, to close The emblematic round!
Such be our Spring, our Summer such; So may our Autumn blend
With hoary Winter, and life touch, Through heaven-born hope, her end!
THE unremitting voice of nightly streams
That wastes so oft, we think, its tuneful powers,
If neither soothing to the worm that gleams
Through dewy grass, nor small birds hushed in bowers,
Nor unto silent leaves and drowsy flowers,
That voice of unpretending harmony
(For who what is shall measure by what seems
To be, or not to be,
Or tax high Heaven with prodigality?)
Wants not a healing influence that can creep
Into the human breast, and mix with sleep
To regulate the motion of our dreams
For kindly issues -as through every clime
Was felt near murmuring brooks in earliest time,
As at this day, the rudest swains who dwell
Where torrents roar, or hear the tinkling knell
Of water-breaks, with grateful heart could tell.
A BARKING Sound the Shepherd hears, A cry as of a Dog or Fox;
He halts and searches with his eyes
Among the scattered rocks:
And now at distance can discern
A stirring in a brake of fern;
And instantly a dog is seen,
Glancing through that covert green.
The dog is not of mountain breed;
Its motions, too, are wild and shy;
With something, as the Shepherd thinks,
Unusual in its cry:
Nor is there any one in sight
All round, in hollow or on height;
Nor shout, nor whistle strikes his ear;
What is the Creature doing here?
It was a cove, a huge recess,
That keeps, till June, December's snow • A lofty precipice in front,
A silent tarn✶ below!
Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
Remote from public road or dwelling,
Pathway, or cultivated land;
From trace of human foot or hand.
There sometimes doth a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer;
The crags repeat the raven's croak,
In symphony austere;
Tarn is a small Mere or Lake, mostly high up in the mountaine