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THE ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, 1820.
High on her speculative tower
Stood Science, waiting for the hour
When Sol was destined to endure
That darkening of his radiant face
Which superstition strove to chase,
Erewhile, with rites impure.
Afloat beneath Italian skies,
Through regions fair as Paradise
We gaily passed,--till Nature wrought
A silent and unlooked-for change,
That checked the desultory range
Of joy and sprightly thought.
Where'er was dipped the toiling oar,
The waves danced round us as before,
As lightly, though of altered hue ;
Mid recent coolness, such as falls
At noontide from umbrageous walls
That screen the morning dew.
No vapour stretched its wings; no cloud
Cast far or near a murky shroud;
The sky an azure field displayed;
'Twas sunlight sheathed and gently charmed,
Of all its sparkling rays disarmed,
And as in slumber laid:
Or something night and day between,
Like moonshine, but the hue was green;
Still moonshine, without shadow, spread
On jutting rock, and curvèd shore,
Where gazed the peasant from his door,
And on the mountain's head.
It tinged the Julian steeps—it lay,
Lugano! on thy ample bay;
The solemnizing veil was drawn
O'er villas, terraces, and towers,
To Albogasio's olive bowers
Porlezza's verdant lawn.
But Fancy, with the speed of fire,
Hath fled to Milan's loftiest spire,
And there alights mid that aërial host
Of figures human and divine,
White as the snows of Apennine
Awe-stricken she beholds the array
That guards the temple night and day;
Angels she sees that might from heaven have flown,
And virgin saints—who not in vain
Have striven by purity to gain
The beatific crown;
Sees long-drawn files, concentric rings
Each narrowing above each ;—the wings
The uplifted palms, the silent marble lips,
The starry zone of sovereign height,
All steeped in this portentous light!
All suffering dim eclipse !
Thus after man had fallen (if aught
These perishable spheres have wrought
May with that issue be compared),
Throngs of celestial visages,
Darkening like water in the breeze,
A holy sadness shared.
Lo! while I speak, the labouring sun
His glad deliverance has begun;
cypress waves its sombre plume
More cheerily; and town and tower,
The vineyard and the olive bower,
Their lustre reassume !
Oye, who guard and grace my home
While in far-distant lands we roam,
Was such a vision given to you?
Or, while we looked with favoured eyes,
Did sullen mist hide lake and skies
And mountains from your view?
I ask in vain-and know far less
If sickness, sorrow, or distress
Have spared my dwelling to this hour:
Sad blindness, but ordained to prove
Our faith in Heaven's unfailing love
And all-controlling power.
THE THREE COTTAGE GIRLS. How blest the maid whose heart-yet free From love's uneasy sovereignty, Beats with a fancy running high Her simple cares to magnify; Whom labour, never urged to toil, Hath cherished on a healthful soil ; Who knows not pomp, who heeds not pelf; Whose heaviest sin it is to look Askance upon her pretty self Reflected in some crystal brook ; Whom grief hath spared—who sheds no tear But in sweet pity; and can hear Another's praise from envy clear.
Such—but, О lavish Nature! why
That dark unfathomable eye,
Where lurks a spirit that replies
To stillest mood of softest skies,
Yet hints at peace to be o'erthrown,
Another's first, and then her own ?-
Such, haply, yon Italian maid,
Our Lady's laggard votaress,
Halting beneath the chestnut shade
To accomplish there her loveliness :
Nice aid maternal fingers lend;
A sister serves with slacker hand;
Then, glittering like a star, she joins the festal band.
How blest (if truth may entertain
Coy fancy with a bolder strain)
The Helvetian girl-who daily braves,
In her light skiff, the tossing waves,
And quits the bosom of the deep
Only to climb the rugged steep?
Say whence that modulated shout ?
From wood-nymph of Diana's throng?
Or does the greeting to a rout
Of giddy bacchanals belong?
Jubilant outcry!-rock and glade
Resounded--but the voice obeyed
The breath of an Helvetian maid.
Her beauty dazzles the thick wood;
Her courage animates the flood;
Her step the elastic greensward meets
Returning unreluctant sweets;
The mountains (as ye heard) rejoice
Aloud, saluted by her voice!
Blithe paragon of Alpine grace,
Be as thou art-for through thy veins
The blood of heroes runs its race!
And nobly wilt thou brook the chains
That, for the virtuous, life prepares;
The fetters which the matron wears;
The patriot mother's weight of anxious cares
“Sweet Highland girl! a very shower
Of beauty was thy earthly dower,"
When thou didst pass before my eyes,
Gay vision under sullen skies,
While hope and love around thee played,
Near the rough Falls of Inversnaid !
Time cannot thin thy flowing hair,
Nor take one ray of light from thee;
For in my fancy thou dost share
The gift of immortality;
And there shall bloom, with thee allied,
The votaress by Lugano's side;
And that intrepid nymph on Uri's steep descried !
STANZAS COMPOSED IN THE SIMPLON
PASS. VALLOMBROSA ! I longed in thy shadiest wood To slumber, reclined on the moss-covered Hoor, To listen to Arno's precipitous flood, When the stillness of evening hath deepened its roar; To range through the temples of Pæstum, to muse In Pompeii, preserved by her burial in earth: On pictures to gaze, where they drank in their hues; And murmur sweet songs on the ground of their birth; The beauty of Florence, the grandeur of Rome, Could I leave them unseen, and not yield to regret? With a hope (and no more) for a season to come, Which ne'er may discharge the magnificent debt?