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SONNETS ON THE GIANTS CAUSEWAY.
This natural phænomenon forms the extreme Northern boundary of Ireland. The Causeway is composed of pillars most exactly adjusted to each other - principally pentagons—and presents all the regular insertion, though not the even surface, of a Mosaic. It runs like a pier or jetty into the sea, and no termination has been found of it. Majestic cliffs of the same pillars rise on each side of it, and distinguish at intervals a considerable line of the coast. Some of the caves, into which you row, add greatly to the grave, and almost dread, character of the scenery: the waves constantly rolling into them and awakening the echoes, which often resemble the cries of living things. The influence of the whole is that of intense solemnity, there is an awful charm, which even a smile might break !
WHENCE rose ye? on what basement are ye stayed,
Ye forms of wondrous grandeur ? Who hath hewn
These matchless strong proportions? Who hath strewn This mass of glorious power? Whom obeyed Nature in rearing thee, Dread Colonnade ? Answers come sounding forth from depth and height !
While ocean bears me on, hark from these caves
A thousand echoes tell, and as it raves Against yon headland shores, its voice of might
Thunders the Name at which Heaven's pillars bow ! E'en ye, too mean to prop his footstool-world
Down at His presence shall ye quickly flowSoon from your sunless rests shall ye be hurled ;
When in one flame the Universe shall glow !
Where are the deep-laid chymic cisterns, whence (1.)
Precipitate congealed these crystals vast ? Or what the forges, whose wild vehemence,
Fanned by the bellows of an earthquake-blast,
Into these moulds the molten mineral cast?
Memorials of a world adjudged and past !
rise ! Or, sweeter thought, ye shaped to Heaven's strain
Attuning mighty order from the skies,– (2.) The trophied architecture of a reign
With whose mysterious harmony it vies !
A highway for your God! and lo! the Sea (3.)
Gave way, and wondering Spectator stood ;
Its boiling fury was at once subdued,
The promontory cross-way clave the flood :
And still the surge repeats that “all is good”
As through the waters deep Thou hold'st thy course, Thy people onward pass, not overflown,
The wildest billows soon have spent their force, — Soft gales just breathe where tempests long have blown,
All stilled and hushed to ocean's deepest source !
Are ye not bulwarks to this lovely Isle,
Isle of the shamrock, of the harp, and saint ?
Where verdure doth its greenest beauties paint, And hill, glen, lake, in each proportion smile, Framed in by every mountain's grim defile !
What though among its legends, strangely quaint,
We trace the spread of superstition's taint, As flaws deform thee, thou great Barrier Pile ! The trefoil twined around Life's healing tree,
The song of holy burden filled the air,Wide few the seed of the devout Culdee, (4.)
And grateful harvests well repaid his care ! And Thou wast as the Porch to which to flee,
When Erin was Earth's purest House of Prayer !
And stretches outward,--to yon Wondrous Rock, (5.)
In magic pillars rising from the deep,
Of lightest cluster or with bending sweep, Braving the eddy's waste and billow's shock, As placed the works of human art to mock,
Stretches this platform's massive masonry,
As if a pathway, leading through the main, To the ne'er-closing threshold of this Fane, Paving the ocean's dark immensity ?
That hidden cloister shall no eye discern: That sunken passage shall no plummet sound:
There only monsters plunge who may not learn Why reaches on this sea-dividing bound,
Secrets, still Sea shall dry and Earth shall burn!
Dread Temple of the Waters! Ocean-Shrine ! (6.)
Oft beneath pointed roof, through lengthened aisle,
Of superstition's dight and columned style,
No sin thy self-hewn pillars can defile!
No cheat thy self-sprung arches can beguile! Far nobler than where golden altars shine! Ages have seen thee! while the piles of earth
Have mouldered: if indeed thou wast not flung In all thy majesty from Nature's birth:
And when the Morning Stars blest jubilee sung, Didst thou not all reverberate their mirth?
Here Pilgrim-Waves aye bowed, and Choir-Winds rung!
(1.) The Basaltic formations, it is well known, are attributed by the rival sects of Geology, the Neptunists or Wernerians, and the Plutonists or Huttonians, to aqueous causes on the one hand, to igneous on the other.
(2.) It seems impossible to disconnect the association of exact arrangement and music :
** From harmony, to heavenly harmony,
This Universal Frame began." (3.) It rather suggests the idea of “ His footsteps which are in the sea," than of those Titans who are fabled to have reared it.
(4.) The Culdees were a most zealous community of Christian Ministers, allied to the old Cathari,—opponents of superstition, and missionaries of transcendent excellence. Ireland was their home,—the latest refuge of primitive Christianity amid general defection and corruption, and was then indeed “an isle of saints." Why it remained not so, let the History of our Second Henry tell.
(5.) Many have supposed that the Causeway extends by a submarine range to Staffa, on the opposite coast of Scotland. It is exactly similar, only that Hebridean wonder is more singularly developed.
(6.) Fingal's Cave, in Staffa, exhibits the appearance of an august sanctuary, open to the sea, which swells and breaks
it, and symphonious with the eddy of the wind. Its sides, its roof, its tout ensemble, must be seen to be estimated, but never can be described.
SONNETS WRITTEN AMONG THE MOUNTAIN
SCENERY OF CUMBERLAND.
Who that has ever visited this region of our British Alps, and of our British Tempè too, can fail to bear away an ineffaceable impression of its sublimity and beauty ? Yet must that impression be always imperfect. It cannot be too frequently renewed. The writer has seen it in its vernal promise, beneath the summer glow, amidst its autumnal sear,—the sear of a ruddy though expiring sacrifice, -the mountains in every disposition of light, the valleys in every change of hue, —and knows not what season or hour, what reflection or aspect, are to be preferred. These lines would not have appeared, but that they had obtained the very high honour of Professor Wilson's approbation-long a sojourner among these scenes, -their eloquent rhopsodist and.most musical bard.—Blackwood's Mag., Oct. 1837.
YE Mountain Surges! Mimic Mountain Main!
How on each other do ye seem to roll!
How doth one pulse your every sweep control!
And wakes your countless outcries with its crash,
dash As though a real ocean!
Now again Is hushed the furious elemental dint!
Ye stand, like adamants, in columned piles With chiselled Auting, and unfolded tint,
Or, like a warrior-guard in concave files, With heart of iron and with face of flint,
Protecting Beauty shrined in these soft lakes and isles !