FROM UNIVERSAL BEAUTY
[THE DEITY IN EVERY ATOM]
Thus beauty, mimicked in our humbler strains, Illustrious through the world's great poem reigns! The One grows sundry by creative power, Th' eternal's found in each revolving hour; Th' immense appears in every point of space, Th' unchangeable in nature's varying face; Th' invisible conspicuous to our mind, And Deity in every atom shrined.
[NATURE SUPERIOR TO CIVILIZATION]
O Nature, whom the song aspires to scan! O Beauty, trod by proud insulting man, This boasted tyrant of thy wondrous ball, This mighty, haughty, little lord of all; This king o'er reason, but this slave to sense, Of wisdom careless, but of whim immense; Towards thee incurious, ignorant, profane, But of his own, dear, strange productions vain! Then with this champion let the field be fought, And nature's simplest arts 'gainst human wisdom brought. Let elegance and bounty here unite— There kings beneficent and courts polite; Here nature's wealth—there chemist's golden dreams; Her texture here—and there the statesman's schemes; Conspicuous here let sacred truth appear— The courtier's word, and lordling's honour, there; Here native sweets in boon profusion flow— There smells that scented nothing of a beau; Let justice here unequal combat wage— Nor poise the judgment of the law-learned sage; Though all-proportioned with exactest skill, Yet gay as woman's wish, and various as her will. O say ye pitied, envied, wretched great, Who veil pernicion with the mask of state! Whence are those domes that reach the mocking skies, And vainly emulous of nature rise? Behold the swain projected o'er the vale! See slumbering peace his rural eyelids seal; Earth's flowery lap supports his vacant head, Beneath his limbs her broidered garments spread; Aloft her elegant pavilion bends, And living shade of vegetation lends, With ever propagated bounty blessed, And hospitably spread for every guest: No tinsel here adorns a tawdry woof, Nor lying wash besmears a varnished roof; With native mode the vivid colours shine, And Heaven's own loom has wrought the weft divine, Where art veils art, and beauties' beauties close, While central grace diffused throughout the system flows.
[THE SPLENDOUR OF INSECTS]
Gemmed o'er their heads the mines of India gleam, And heaven's own wardrobe has arrayed their frame; Each spangled back bright sprinkling specks adorn, Each plume imbibes the rosy-tinctured morn; Spread on each wing, the florid seasons glow, Shaded and verged with the celestial bow, Where colours blend an ever-varying dye, And wanton in their gay exchanges vie. Not all the glitter fops and fair ones prize, The pride of fools, and pity of the wise; Not all the show and mockery of state, The little, low, fine follies of the great; Not all the wealth which eastern pageants wore, What still our idolizing worlds adore; Can boast the least inimitable grace Which decks profusive this illustrious race.
[MORAL LESSONS FROM ANIMAL LIFE]
Ye self-sufficient sons of reasoning pride, Too wise to take Omniscience for your guide, Those rules from insects, birds, and brutes discern Which from the Maker you disdain to learn! The social friendship, and the firm ally, The filial sanctitude, and nuptial tie, Patience in want, and faith to persevere, Th' endearing sentiment, and tender care, Courage o'er private interest to prevail, And die all Decii for the public weal.
[PROMPTINGS OF DIVINE INSTINCT]
Dispersed through every copse or marshy plain, Where hunts the woodcock or the annual crane, Where else encamped the feathered legions spread Or bathe incumbent on their oozy bed, The brimming lake thy smiling presence fills, And waves the banners of a thousand hills. Thou speed'st the summons of thy warning voice: Winged at thy word, the distant troops rejoice, From every quarter scour the fields of air, And to the general rendezvous repair; Each from the mingled rout disporting turns, And with the love of kindred plumage burns. Thy potent will instinctive bosoms feel, And here arranging semilunar, wheel; Or marshalled here the painted rhomb display Or point the wedge that cleaves th' aerial way: Uplifted on thy wafting breath they rise; Thou pav'st the regions of the pathless skies, Through boundless tracts support'st the journeyed host And point'st the voyage to the certain coast,— Thou the sure compass and the sea they sail, The chart, the port, the steerage, and the gale!
PROLOGUE TO 'GUSTAVUS VASA'
Britons! this night presents a state distressed: Though brave, yet vanquished; and though great, oppressed. Vice, ravening vulture, on her vitals preyed; Her peers, her prelates, fell corruption swayed: Their rights, for power, the ambitious weakly sold: The wealthy, poorly, for superfluous gold, Hence wasting ills, hence severing factions rose, And gave large entrance to invading foes: Truth, justice, honour, fled th' infected shore; For freedom, sacred freedom, was no more. Then, greatly rising in his country's right, Her hero, her deliverer sprung to light: A race of hardy northern sons he led, Guiltless of courts, untainted and unread; Whose inborn spirit spurned the ignoble fee, Whose hands scorned bondage, for their hearts were free. Ask ye what law their conquering cause confessed?— Great Nature's law, the law within the breast: Formed by no art, and to no sect confined, But stamped by Heaven upon th' unlettered mind. Such, such of old, the first born natives were Who breathed the virtues of Britannia's air, Their realm when mighty Caesar vainly sought, For mightier freedom against Caesar fought, And rudely drove the famed invader home, To tyrannize o'er polished—venal Rome. Our bard, exalted in a freeborn flame, To every nation would transfer this claim: He to no state, no climate, bounds his page, But bids the moral beam through every age. Then be your judgment generous as his plan; Ye sons of freedom! save the friend of man.
From CONRADE, A FRAGMENT
What do I love—what is it that mine eyes Turn round in search of—that my soul longs after, But cannot quench her thirst?—'Tis Beauty, Phelin! I see it wide beneath the arch of heaven, When the stars peep upon their evening hour, And the moon rises on the eastern wave, Housed in a cloud of gold! I see it wide In earth's autumnal taints of various landscape When the first ray of morning tips the trees, And fires the distant rock! I hear its voice When thy hand sends the sound along the gale, Swept from the silver strings or on mine ear Drops the sweet sadness! At my heart I feel Its potent grasp, I melt beneath the touch, When the tale pours upon my sense humane The woes of other times! What art thou, Beauty? Thou art not colour, fancy, sound, nor form— These but the conduits are, whence the soul quaffs The liquor of its heaven. Whate'er thou art, Nature, or Nature's spirit, thou art all I long for! Oh, descend upon my thoughts! To thine own music tune, thou power of grace, The cordage of my heart! Fill every shape That rises to my dream or wakes to vision; And touch the threads of every mental nerve, With all thy sacred feelings!
FROM THE SPLEEN
To cure the mind's wrong bias, spleen Some recommend the bowling-green; Some, hilly walks; all, exercise; Fling but a stone, the giant dies. Laugh and be well. Monkeys have been Extreme good doctors for the spleen; And kitten, if the humour hit, Has harlequined away the fit.
Since mirth is good in this behalf, At some particulars let us laugh: Witlings, brisk fools, cursed with half-sense, That stimulates their impotence; Who buzz in rhyme, and, like blind flies, Err with their wings for want of eyes; Poor authors worshipping a calf, Deep tragedies that make us laugh, A strict dissenter saying grace, A lecturer preaching for a place, Folks, things prophetic to dispense, Making the past the future tense, The popish dubbing of a priest, Fine epitaphs on knaves deceased.
* * * * *
Forced by soft violence of prayer, The blithesome goddess soothes my care, I feel the deity inspire, And thus she models my desire. Two hundred pounds half-yearly paid, Annuity securely made, A farm some twenty miles from town, Small, tight, salubrious, and my own; Two maids, that never saw the town, A serving-man not quite a clown, A boy to help to tread the mow, And drive, while t'other holds the plough; A chief, of temper formed to please, Fit to converse, and keep the keys; And better to preserve the peace, Commissioned by the name of niece; With understandings of a size To think their master very wise.
FROM THE SCHOOLMISTRESS
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow, Emblem right meet of decency does yield: Her apron dyed in grain, as blue, I trow, As is the harebell that adorns the field;
And in her hand, for sceptre, she does wield Tway birchen sprays; with anxious fear entwined, With dark distrust, and sad repentance filled; And steadfast hate, and sharp affliction joined, And fury uncontrolled, and chastisement unkind.
* * * * *
A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown; A russet kirtle fenced the nipping air; 'Twas simple russet, but it was her own; 'Twas her own country bred the flock so fair! 'Twas her own labour did the fleece prepare; And, sooth to say, her pupils ranged around, Through pious awe, did term it passing rare; For they in gaping wonderment abound, And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on ground.
* * * * *
Lo, now with state she utters the command! Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair; Their books of stature small they take in hand, Which with pellucid horn secured are; To save from finger wet the letters fair: The work so gay, that on their back is seen, St. George's high achievements does declare; On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been Kens the forth-coming rod, unpleasing sight, I ween!
Ah, luckless he, and born beneath the beam Of evil star! it irks me whilst I write! As erst the bard by Mulla's silver stream, Oft, as he told of deadly dolorous plight, Sighed as he sung, and did in tears indite. For brandishing the rod, she doth begin To loose the brogues, the stripling's late delight! And down they drop; appears his dainty skin, Fair as the furry coat of whitest ermilin.
O ruthful scene! when from a nook obscure, His little sister doth his peril see: All playful as she sate, she grows demure; She finds full soon her wonted spirits flee; She meditates a prayer to set him free: Nor gentle pardon could this dame deny, (If gentle pardon could with dames agree) To her sad grief that swells in either eye, And wrings her so that all for pity she could die.
The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay, Attend, and conn their tasks with mickle care: By turns, astonied, every twig survey, And, from their fellow's hateful wounds, beware; Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share; Till fear has taught them a performance meet, And to the well-known chest the dame repairs; Whence oft with sugared cates she doth 'em greet, And ginger-bread y-rare; now, certes, doubly sweet!
* * * * *
Yet nursed with skill, what dazzling fruits appear! Even now sagacious foresight points to show A little bench of heedless bishops here, And there a chancellor in embryo, Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so, As Milton, Shakespeare, names that ne'er shall die! Though now he crawl along the ground so low, Nor weeting how the muse should soar on high, Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly.
WRITTEN AT AN INN AT HENLEY
To thee, fair freedom! I retire From flattery, cards, and dice, and din; Nor art thou found in mansions higher Than the low cot, or humble inn.
'Tis here with boundless power I reign; And every health which I begin, Converts dull port to bright champagne; Such freedom crowns it, at an inn.
I fly from pomp, I fly from plate! I fly from falsehood's specious grin! Freedom I love, and form I hate, And choose my lodgings at an inn.
Here, waiter! take my sordid ore, Which lacqueys else might hope to win; It buys, what courts have not in store; It buys me freedom, at an inn.
Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round, Where'er his stages may have been, May sigh to think he still has found The warmest welcome at an inn.
FROM THE BEASTS' CONFESSION
When beasts could speak, (the learned say They still can do so every day,) It seems they had religion then, As much as now we find in men. It happened, when a plague broke out, (Which therefore made them more devout,) The king of brutes (to make it plain, Of quadrupeds I only mean) By proclamation gave command That every subject in the land Should to the priest confess their sins; And thus the pious Wolf begins:— 'Good father, I must own with shame, That often I have been to blame: I must confess, on Friday last, Wretch that I was! I broke my fast: But I defy the basest tongue To prove I did my neighbour wrong; Or ever went to seek my food, By rapine, theft, or thirst of blood.'
The Ass approaching next, confessed That in his heart he loved a jest: A wag he was, he needs must own, And could not let a dunce alone:
Sometimes his friend he would not spare, And might perhaps be too severe: But yet the worst that could be said, He was a wit both born and bred; And, if it be a sin and shame, Nature alone must bear the blame: One fault he has, is sorry for't, His ears are half a foot too short; Which could he to the standard bring, He'd show his face before the king: Then for his voice, there's none disputes That he's the nightingale of brutes.
The Swine with contrite heart allowed His shape and beauty made him proud: In diet was perhaps too nice, But gluttony was ne'er his vice: In every turn of life content, And meekly took what fortune sent; Inquire through all the parish round, A better neighbour ne'er was found; His vigilance might some displease; 'Tis true, he hated sloth like pease.
The mimic Ape began his chatter, How evil tongues his life bespatter; Much of the censuring world complained, Who said, his gravity was feigned: Indeed, the strictness of his morals Engaged him in a hundred quarrels: He saw, and he was grieved to see 't, His zeal was sometimes indiscreet: He found his virtues too severe For our corrupted times to bear; Yet such a lewd licentious age Might well excuse a stoic's rage.
The Goat advanced with decent pace, And first excused his youthful face; Forgiveness begged that he appeared ('Twas Nature's fault) without a beard. 'Tis true, he was not much inclined To fondness for the female kind: Not, as his enemies object, From chance, or natural defect;
Not by his frigid constitution; But through a pious resolution: For he had made a holy vow Of chastity, as monks do now: Which he resolved to keep for ever hence And strictly too, as doth his reverence.
Apply the tale, and you shall find, How just it suits with human kind. Some faults we own; but can you guess? —Why, virtues carried to excess, Wherewith our vanity endows us, Though neither foe nor friend allows us.
The Lawyer swears (you may rely on't) He never squeezed a needy client; And this he makes his constant rule, For which his brethren call him fool; His conscience always was so nice, He freely gave the poor advice; By which he lost, he may affirm, A hundred fees last Easter term; While others of the learned robe, Would break the patience of a Job. No pleader at the bar could match His diligence and quick dispatch; Ne'er kept a cause, he well may boast, Above a term or two at most.
The cringing Knave, who seeks a place Without success, thus tells his case: Why should he longer mince the matter? He failed, because he could not flatter; He had not learned to turn his coat, Nor for a party give his vote: His crime he quickly understood; Too zealous for the nation's good: He found the ministers resent it, Yet could not for his heart repent it.
The Chaplain vows, he cannot fawn, Though it would raise him to the lawn: He passed his hours among his books; You find it in his meagre looks: He might, if he were worldly wise, Preferment get, and spare his eyes; But owns he had a stubborn spirit, That made him trust alone to merit; Would rise by merit to promotion; Alas! a mere chimeric notion.
The Doctor, if you will believe him, Confessed a sin; (and God forgive him!) Called up at midnight, ran to save A blind old beggar from the grave: But see how Satan spreads his snares; He quite forgot to say his prayers. He cannot help it, for his heart, Sometimes to act the parson's part: Quotes from the Bible many a sentence, That moves his patients to repentance; And, when his medicines do no good, Supports their minds with heavenly food: At which, however well intended. He hears the clergy are offended; And grown so bold behind his back, To call him hypocrite and quack.
* * * * *
I own the moral not exact, Besides, the tale is false, in fact; And so absurd, that could I raise up, From fields Elysian, fabling. Aesop, I would accuse him to his face, For libelling the four-foot race. Creatures of every kind but ours Well comprehend their natural powers, While we, whom reason ought to sway, Mistake our talents every day. The Ass was never known so stupid To act the part of Tray or Cupid; Nor leaps upon his master's lap. There to be stroked, and fed with pap, As Aesop would the world persuade; He better understands his trade: Nor comes whene'er his lady whistles, But carries loads, and feeds on thistles. Our author's meaning, I presume, is A creature bipes et implumis;
Wherein the moralist designed A compliment on human kind; For here he owns, that now and then Beasts may degenerate into men.
FROM VERSES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SWIFT
Vain human kind! fantastic race! Thy various follies who can trace? Self-love, ambition, envy, pride, Their empire in our hearts divide. Give others riches, power, and station, 'Tis all on me a usurpation. I have no title to aspire; Yet, when you sink, I seem the higher. In Pope I cannot read a line But with a sigh I wish it mine; When he can in one couplet fix More sense than I can do in six, It gives me such a jealous fit I cry, 'Pox take him and his wit!' I grieve to be outdone by Gay In my own humorous biting way. Arbuthnot is no more my friend, Who dares to irony pretend, Which I was born to introduce, Refined it first, and showed its use. St. John, as well as Pultney, knows, That I had some repute for prose; And, till they drove me out of date, Could maul a minister of state. If they have mortified my pride, And made me throw my pen aside: If with such talents Heaven has blessed 'em, Have I not reason to detest 'em?
* * * * *
Suppose me dead; and then suppose A club assembled at the Rose; Where, from discourse of this and that, I grow the subject of their chat.
And while they toss my name about, With favour some, and some without, One, quite indifferent in the cause, My character impartial draws:
'The Dean, if we believe report, Was never ill-received at court. As for his works in verse and prose, I own myself no judge of those; Nor can I tell what critics thought 'em, But this I know, all people bought 'em, As with a moral view designed To cure the vices of mankind, His vein, ironically grave, Exposed the fool, and lashed the knave. To steal a hint was never known, But what he writ was all his own.
'He never thought an honour done him, Because a duke was proud to own him; Would rather slip aside and choose To talk with wits in dirty shoes; Despised the fools with stars and garters, So often seen caressing Chartres. He never courted men in station, Nor persons held in admiration; Of no man's greatness was afraid, Because he sought for no man's aid. Though trusted long in great affairs, He gave himself no haughty airs. Without regarding private ends. Spent all his credit for his friends; And only chose the wise and good; No flatterers; no allies in blood: But succoured virtue in distress, And seldom failed of good success; As numbers in their hearts must own, Who, but for him, had been unknown.
* * * * *
'Perhaps I may allow the Dean Had too much satire in his vein; And seemed determined not to starve it, Because no age could more deserve it.
Yet malice never was his aim; He lashed the vice, but spared the name; No individual could resent, Where thousands equally were meant; His satire points at no defect, But what all mortals may correct; For he abhorred that senseless tribe Who call it humour when they gibe: He spared a hump, or crooked nose, Whose owners set not up for beaux. True genuine dulness moved his pity, Unless it offered to be witty. Those who their ignorance confessed, He never offended with a jest; But laughed to hear an idiot quote A verse from Horace learned by rote.
'He knew a hundred pleasing stories, With all the turns of Whigs and Tories: Was cheerful to his dying day; And friends would let him have his way.
'He gave the little wealth he had To build a house for fools and mad; And showed by one satiric touch, No nation wanted it so much.'
Hark! how all the welkin rings 'Glory to the King of kings! Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!'
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies; Universal nature say, 'Christ the Lord is born to-day!'
Christ, by highest Heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord; Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of a virgin's womb!
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail, th' incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to appear, Jesus, our Immanuel here!
Hail! the heavenly Prince of Peace! Hail! the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by, Barn that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
Come, Desire of Nations, come, Fix in us Thy humble home! Rise, the Woman's conquering Seed, Bruise in us the Serpent's head!
Now display Thy saving power, Ruined nature now restore, Now in mystic union join Thine to ours, and ours to Thine!
Adam's likeness, Lord, efface; Stamp Thy image in its place; Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love!
Let us Thee, though lost, regain, Thee, the Life, the Inner Man; O! to all Thyself impart, Formed in each believing heart!
'Christ the Lord is risen to-day,' Sons of men and angels say: Raise your joys and triumphs high, Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.
Love's redeeming work is done, Fought the fight, the battle won: Lo! our Sun's eclipse is o'er; Lo! He sets in blood no more.
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Christ hath burst the gates of hell! Death in vain forbids His rise; Christ hath opened Paradise!
Lives again our glorious King: Where, O Death, is now thy sting? Dying once, He all doth save: Where thy victory, O Grave?
Soar we now where Christ has led, Following our exalted Head; Made like Him, like Him we rise; Ours the Cross, the grave, the skies.
What though once we perished all, Partners in our parents' fall? Second life we all receive, In our Heavenly Adam live.
Risen with Him, we upward move; Still we seek the things above; Still pursue, and kiss the Son Seated on His Father's Throne.
Scarce on earth a thought bestow, Dead to all we leave below; Heaven our aim, and loved abode, Hid our life with Christ in God:
Hid, till Christ our Life appear Glorious in His members here; Joined to Him, we then shall shine, All immortal, all divine.
Hail the Lord of Earth and Heaven! Praise to Thee by both be given! Thee we greet triumphant now! Hail, the Resurrection Thou!
King of glory, Soul of bliss! Everlasting life is this, Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Thus to sing, and thus to love!
Jesu, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high! Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life is past, Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last!
Other refuge have I none; Hangs my helpless soul on Thee; Leave, ah! leave me not alone, Still support and comfort me! All my trust on Thee is stayed, All my help from Thee I bring: Cover my defenceless head With the shadow of Thy wing!
Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer? Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall! Lo! on Thee I cast my care! Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive, Hoping against hope I stand, Dying, and behold I live!
Thou, O Christ, art all I want; More than all in Thee I find: Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, Heal the sick, and lead the blind! Just and holy is Thy Name; I am all unrighteousness; False and full of sin I am, Thou art full of truth and grace.
Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to cover all my sin; Let the healing streams abound; Make and keep me pure within! Thou of Life the Fountain art, Freely let me take of Thee; Spring Thou up within my heart! Rise to all eternity!
Come, O thou Traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see; My company before is gone, And I am left alone with Thee; With Thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day.
I need not tell Thee who I am, My misery or sin declare; Thyself hast called me by my name; Look on Thy hands, and read it there! But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou? Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.
In vain Thou strugglest to get free, I never will unloose my hold; Art Thou the Man that died for me? The secret of Thy love unfold.
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.
Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal Thy new, unutterable name? Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell: To know it now, resolved I am: Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.
'Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue, Or touch the hollow of my thigh; Though every sinew be unstrung, Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly; Wrestling, I will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.
What though my shrinking flesh complain, And murmur to contend so long? I rise superior to my pain; When I am weak, then I am strong: And when my all of strength shall fail, I shall with the God-Man prevail.
My strength is gone; my nature dies; I sink beneath Thy weighty hand, Faint to revive, and fall to rise; I fall, and yet by faith I stand: I stand, and will not let Thee go, Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.
Yield to me now, for I am weak, But confident in self-despair; Speak to my heart, in blessings speak, Be conquered by my instant prayer! Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move, And tell me, if Thy name is Love?
'Tis Love! 'tis Love! Thou diedst for me! I hear Thy whisper in my heart! The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Pure universal Love Thou art! To me, to all, Thy bowels move; Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love!
My prayer hath power with God; the grace Unspeakable I now receive; Through faith I see Thee face to face, I see Thee face to face, and live: In vain I have not wept and strove; Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love.
I know Thee, Saviour, who Thou art; Jesus, the feeble sinner's friend! Nor wilt Thou with the night depart, But stay, and love me to the end! Thy mercies never shall remove, Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love!
The Sun of Righteousness on me Hath rose, with healing in His wings; Withered my nature's strength, from Thee My soul its life and succour brings; My help is all laid up above; Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love.
Contented now upon my thigh I halt, till life's short journey end; All helplessness, all weakness, I On Thee alone for strength depend; Nor have I power from Thee to move; Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love.
Lame as I am, I take the prey, Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o'ercome; I leap for joy, pursue my way, And as a bounding hart fly home! Through all eternity to prove, Thy nature, and Thy name, is Love!
FROM THE GRAVE
See yonder hallowed fane;—the pious work Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot, And buried midst the wreck of things which were; There lie interred the more illustrious dead. The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks Till now I never heard a sound so dreary: Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird, Rooked in the spire, screams loud: the gloomy aisles, Black—plastered, and hung round with shreds of 'scutcheons And tattered coats of arms, send back the sound Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, The mansions of the dead.—Roused from their slumbers, In grim array the grisly spectres rise, Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen, Pass and repass, hushed as the foot of night. Again the screech-owl shrieks: ungracious sound! I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.
* * * * *
Oft in the lone churchyard at night I've seen By glimpse of moonshine chequering through the trees, The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up, And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones, (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,) That tell in homely phrase who lie below. Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears, The sound of something purring at his heels; Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him, Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows; Who gather round, and wonder at the tale Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly, That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand O'er some new-opened grave; and (strange to tell!) Evanishes at crowing of the cock.
The new-made widow, too, I've sometimes spied, Sad sight! slow moving o'er the prostrate dead: Listless, she crawls along in doleful black, Whilst bursts of sorrow gush from either eye, Fast falling down her now untasted cheek: Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man She drops; whilst busy, meddling memory, In barbarous succession musters up The past endearments of their softer hours, Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks She sees him, and indulging the fond thought, Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf, Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way.
* * * * *
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumbering dust, Not unattentive to the call, shall wake, And every joint possess its proper place With a new elegance of form unknown To its first state. Nor shall the conscious soul Mistake its partner, but, amidst the crowd Singling its other half, into its arms Shall rush with all the impatience of a man That's new come home, who having long been absent With haste runs over every different room In pain to see the whole. Thrice happy meeting! Nor time nor death shall part them ever more. 'Tis but a night, a long and moonless night, We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.
Thus at the shut of even the weary bird Leaves the wide air and, in some lonely brake, Cowers down and dozes till the dawn of day, Then claps his well-fledged wings and bears away.
FROM ON RIDICULE
Our mirthful age, to all extremes a prey, Even, courts the lash, and laughs her pains away, Declining worth imperial wit supplies, And Momus triumphs, while Astraea flies. No truth so sacred, banter cannot hit, No fool so stupid but he aims at wit. Even those whose breasts ne'er planned one virtuous deed, Nor raised a thought beyond the earth they tread: Even those can censure, those can dare deride A Bacon's avarice, or a Tully's pride; And sneer at human checks by Nature given. To curb perfection e'er it rival Heaven: Nay, chiefly such in these low arts prevail, Whose want of talents leaves them time to raid. Born for no end, they worse than useless grow, (As waters poison, if they cease to flow;) And pests become, whom kinder fate designed But harmless expletives of human kind. See with what zeal th' insidious task they ply! Where shall the prudent, where the virtuous fly? Lurk as ye can, if they direct the ray, The veriest atoms in the sunbeams play. No venial slip their quick attention 'scapes; They trace each Proteus through his hundred shapes; To Mirth's tribunal drag the caitiff train, Where Mercy sleeps, and Nature pleads in vain.
* * * * *
Here then we fix, and lash without control These mental pests, and hydras of the soul; Acquired ill-nature, ever prompt debate, A seal for slander, and deliberate hate: These court contempt, proclaim the public foe, And each, Ulysses like, should aim the blow. Yet sure, even here, our motives should be known: Rail we to check his spleen, or ease our own?
Does injured virtue every shaft supply, Arm the keen tongue, and flush th' erected eye? Or do we from ourselves ourselves disguise? And act, perhaps, the villain we chastise? Hope we to mend him? hopes, alas, how vain! He feels the lash, not listens to the rein.
'Tis dangerous too, in these licentious times, Howe'er severe the smile, to sport with crimes. Vices when ridiculed, experience says, First lose that horror which they ought to raise, Grow by degrees approved, and almost aim at praise.
* * * * *
[The] fear of man, in his most mirthful mood, May make us hypocrites, but seldom good.
* * * * *
Besides, in men have varying passions made Such nice confusions, blending, light with shade, That eager zeal to laugh the vice away May hurt some virtue's intermingling ray.
* * * * *
Then let good-nature every charm exert, And while it mends it, win th' unfolding heart. Let moral mirth a face of triumph wear, Yet smile unconscious of th' extorted tear. See with what grace instructive satire flows, Politely keen, in Olio's numbered prose! That great example should our zeal excite, And censors learn from Addison to write. So, in our age, too prone to sport with pain, Might soft humanity resume her reign; Pride without rancour feel th' objected fault, And folly blush, as willing to be taught; Critics grow mild, life's witty warfare cease, And true good-nature breathe the balm of peace.
Once—I remember well the day, 'Twas ere the blooming sweets of May Had lost their freshest hues, When every flower on every hill, In every vale, had drank its fill Of sunshine and of dews.
In short, 'twas that sweet season's prime When Spring gives up the reins of time To Summer's glowing hand, And doubting mortals hardly know By whose command the breezes blow Which fan the smiling land.
'Twas then, beside a greenwood shade Which clothed a lawn's aspiring head, I urged my devious way, With loitering steps regardless where, So soft, so genial was the air, So wondrous bright the day.
And now my eyes with transport rove O'er all the blue expanse above, Unbroken by a cloud! And now beneath delighted pass, Where winding through the deep-green grass A full-brimmed river flowed.
I stop, I gaze; in accents rude, To thee, serenest Solitude, Bursts forth th' unbidden lay; 'Begone vile world! the learned, the wise, The great, the busy, I despise, And pity even the gay.
'These, these are joys alone, I cry, 'Tis here, divine Philosophy, Thou deign'st to fix thy throne! Here contemplation points the road Through nature's charms to nature's God! These, these are joys alone!
'Adieu, ye vain low-thoughted cares, Ye human hopes, and human fears, Ye pleasures and ye pains!' While thus I spake, o'er all my soul A philosophic calmness stole, A stoic stillness reigns.
The tyrant passions all subside, Fear, anger, pity, shame, and pride, No more my bosom move; Yet still I felt, or seemed to feel A kind of visionary zeal Of universal love.
When lo! a voice, a voice I hear! 'Twas Reason whispered in my ear These monitory strains; 'What mean'st thou, man? wouldst thou unbind The ties which constitute thy kind, The pleasures and the pains?
'The same Almighty Power unseen, Who spreads the gay or solemn scene To contemplation's eye, Fixed every movement of the soul, Taught every wish its destined goal, And quickened every joy.
'He bids the tyrant passions rage, He bids them war eternal wage, And combat each his foe: Till from dissensions concords rise, And beauties from deformities, And happiness from woe.
'Art thou not man, and dar'st thou find A bliss which leans not to mankind? Presumptuous thought and vain Each bliss unshared is unenjoyed, Each power is weak unless employed Some social good to gain.
'Shall light and shade, and warmth and air. With those exalted joys compare Which active virtue feels, When oil she drags, as lawful prize, Contempt, and Indolence, and Vice, At her triumphant wheels?
'As rest to labour still succeeds, To man, whilst virtue's glorious deeds Employ his toilsome day, This fair variety of things Are merely life's refreshing springs, To sooth him on his way.
'Enthusiast go, unstring thy lyre, In vain thou sing'st if none admire, How sweet soe'er the strain, And is not thy o'erflowing mind, Unless thou mixest with thy kind, Benevolent in vain?
'Enthusiast go, try every sense, If not thy bliss, thy excellence, Thou yet hast learned to scan; At least thy wants, thy weakness know, And see them all uniting show That man was made for man.'
FROM THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION
[THE AESTHETIC AND MORAL INFLUENCE OF NATURE]
Fruitless is the attempt, By dull obedience and by creeping toil Obscure, to conquer the severe ascent Of high Parnassus. Nature's kindling breath Must fire the chosen genius; Nature's hand
Must string his nerves, and imp his eagle-wings, Impatient of the painful steep, to soar High as the summit, there to breathe at large Ethereal air, with bards and sages old, Immortal sons of praise.
* * * * *
Even so did Nature's hand To certain species of external things Attune the finer organs of the mind: So the glad impulse of congenial powers, Or of sweet sounds, or fair-proportioned form, The grace of motion, or the bloom of light, Thrills through imagination's tender frame, From nerve to nerve; all naked and alive They catch the spreading rays, till now the soul At length discloses every tuneful spring, To that harmonious movement from without Responsive.
* * * * *
What then is taste, but these internal powers Active, and strong, and feelingly alive To each fine impulse? a discerning sense Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust From things deformed, or disarranged, or gross In species? This, nor gems, nor stores of gold, Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow; But God alone, when first his active hand Imprints the secret bias of the soul. He, mighty parent wise and just in all, Free as the vital breeze or light of heaven, Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain Who journey's homeward from a summer day's Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils And due repose, he loiters to behold The sunshine gleaming as through amber clouds O'er all the western sky; full soon, I ween, His rude expression and untutored airs, Beyond the power of language, will unfold The form of beauty smiling at his heart— How lovely! how commanding!
* * * * *
Oh! blest of Heaven, whom not the languid songs Of Luxury, the siren! nor the bribes Of sordid Wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils Of pageant Honour, can seduce to leave Those ever-blooming sweets which, from the store Of Nature, fair Imagination culls To charm th' enlivened soul! What though not all Of mortal offspring can attain the heights Of envied life, though only few possess Patrician treasures or imperial state; Yet Nature's care, to all her children just, With richer treasure and an ampler state, Endows at large whatever happy man Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp; The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns The princely dome, the column and the arch, The breathing marbles and the sculptured gold, Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim, His tuneful breast enjoys. For him the Spring Distils her dews, and from the silken gem Its lucid leaves unfolds; for him the hand Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch With blooming gold, and blushes like the morn. Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings; And still new beauties meet his lonely walk, And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain From all the tenants of the warbling shade Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake Fresh pleasure unreproved. Nor thence partakes Fresh pleasure only; for th' attentive mind, By this harmonious action on her powers, Becomes herself harmonious: wont so oft In outward things to meditate the charm Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home To find a kindred order, to exert Within herself this elegance of love, This fair-inspired delight; her tempered powers Refine at length, and every passion wears A chaster, milder, more attractive mien. But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze On Nature's form where, negligent of all These lesser graces, she assumes the part Of that Eternal Majesty that weighed The world's foundations, if to these the mind Exalts her daring eye; then mightier far Will be the change, and nobler. Would the forms Of servile custom cramp her generous powers? Would sordid policies, the barbarous growth Of ignorance and rapine, bow her down To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear? Lo! she appeals to Nature, to the winds And rolling waves, the sun's unwearied course The elements and seasons: all declare For what th' Eternal Maker has ordained The powers of man: we feel within ourselves His energy divine: he tells the heart He meant, he made us, to behold and love What he beholds and loves, the general orb Of life and being; to be great like him, Beneficent and active. Thus the men Whom nature's works can charm, with God himself Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day, With his conceptions; act upon his plan; And form to his, the relish of their souls.
FROM THE ENTHUSIAST; OR, THE LOVER OF NATURE
Ye green-robed Dryads, oft at dusky eve By wondering shepherds seen, to forests brown To unfrequented meads, and pathless wilds, Lead me from gardens decked with art's vain pomps. Can gilt alcoves, can marble-mimic gods Parterres embroidered, obelisks, and urns Of high relief; can the long, spreading lake, Or vista lessening to the sight; can Stow, With all her Attic fanes, such raptures raise, As the thrush-haunted copse, where lightly leaps The fearful fawn the rustling leaves along, And the brisk squirrel sports from bough to bough, While from an hollow oak, whose naked roots O'erhang a pensive rill, the busy bees Hum drowsy lullabies? The bards of old, Fair Nature's friends, sought such retreats, to charm Sweet Echo with their songs; oft too they met In summer evenings, near sequestered bowers, Or mountain nymph, or Muse, and eager learnt The moral strains she taught to mend mankind.
* * * * *
Rich in her weeping country's spoils, Versailles May boast a thousand fountains, that can cast The tortured waters to the distant heavens: Yet let me choose some pine-topped precipice Abrupt and shaggy, whence a foamy stream, Like Anio, tumbling roars; or some bleak heath, Where straggling stands the mournful juniper, Or yew-tree scathed; while in clear prospect round From the grove's bosom spires emerge, and smoke In bluish wreaths ascends, ripe harvests wave, Low, lonely cottages, and ruined tops Of Gothic battlements appear, and streams Beneath the sunbeams twinkle.
Happy the first of men, ere yet confined To smoky cities; who in sheltering groves, Warm caves, and deep-sunk valleys lived and loved, By cares unwounded; what the sun and showers, And genial earth untillaged, could produce, They gathered grateful, or the acorn brown Or blushing berry; by the liquid lapse Of murmuring waters called to slake their thirst, Or with fair nymphs their sun-brown limbs to bathe; With nymphs who fondly clasped their favourite youths, Unawed by shame, beneath the beechen shade, Nor wiles nor artificial coyness knew. Then doors and walls were not; the melting maid Nor frown of parents feared, nor husband's threats;
Nor had cursed gold their tender hearts allured: Then beauty was not venal. Injured Love, Oh! whither, god of raptures, art thou fled?
* * * * *
What are the lays of artful Addison, Coldly correct, to Shakespeare's warblings wild? Whom on the winding Avon's willowed banks Fair Fancy found, and bore the smiling babe To a close cavern (still the shepherds show The sacred place, whence with religious awe They hear, returning from the field at eve, Strange whisperings of sweet music through the air). Here, as with honey gathered from the rock, She fed the little prattler, and with songs Oft soothed his wandering ears; with deep delight On her soft lap he sat, and caught the sounds.
Oft near some crowded city would I walk, Listening the far-off noises, rattling cars, Loud shouts of joy, sad shrieks of sorrow, knells Full slowly tolling, instruments of trade, Striking my ears with one deep-swelling hum. Or wandering near the sea, attend the sounds Of hollow winds and ever-beating waves. Even when wild tempests swallow up the plains, And Boreas' blasts, big hail, and rains combine To shake the groves and mountains, would I sit, Pensively musing on th' outrageous crimes That wake Heaven's vengeance: at such solemn hours, Demons and goblins through the dark air shriek, While Hecat, with her black-browed sisters nine, Bides o'er the Earth, and scatters woes and death. Then, too, they say, in drear Egyptian wilds The lion and the tiger prowl for prey With roarings loud! The listening traveller Starts fear-struck, while the hollow echoing vaults Of pyramids increase the deathful sounds.
But let me never fail in cloudless nights, When silent Cynthia in her silver car Through the blue concave slides, when shine the hills, Twinkle the streams, and woods look tipped with gold, To seek some level mead, and there invoke
Old Midnight's sister, Contemplation sage, (Queen of the rugged brow and stern-fixt eye,) To lift my soul above this little earth, This folly-fettered world: to purge my ears, That I may hear the rolling planets' song, And tuneful turning spheres: if this be barred The little fays, that dance in neighbouring dales, Sipping the night-dew, while they laugh and love, Shall charm me with aerial notes.—As thus I wander musing, lo, what awful forms Yonder appear! sharp-eyed Philosophy Clad in dun robes, an eagle on his wrist, First meets my eye; next, virgin Solitude Serene, who blushes at each gazer's sight; Then Wisdom's hoary head, with crutch in hand, Trembling, and bent with age; last Virtue's self, Smiling, in white arrayed, who with her leads Sweet Innocence, that prattles by her side, A naked boy!—Harassed with fear I stop, I gaze, when Virtue thus—'Whoe'er thou art, Mortal, by whom I deign to be beheld In these my midnight walks; depart, and say, That henceforth I and my immortal train Forsake Britannia's isle; who fondly stoops To vice, her favourite paramour.' She spoke, And as she turned, her round and rosy neck, Her flowing train, and long ambrosial hair, Breathing rich odours, I enamoured view.
O who will bear me then to western climes, Since virtue leaves our wretched land, to fields Yet unpolluted with Iberian swords, The isles of innocence, from mortal view Deeply retired, beneath a plantain's shade, Where happiness and quiet sit enthroned. With simple Indian swains, that I may hunt The boar and tiger through savannahs wild, Through fragrant deserts and through citron groves? There fed on dates and herbs, would I despise The far-fetched cates of luxury, and hoards Of narrow-hearted avarice; nor heed The distant din of the tumultuous world.
JOHN GILBERT COOPER
FROM THE POWER OF HARMONY
THE HARMONY OF NATURE
Hail, thrice hail! Ye solitary seats, where Wisdom seeks Beauty and Good, th' unseparable pair, Sweet offspring of the sky, those emblems fair Of the celestial cause, whose tuneful word From discord and from chaos raised this globe And all the wide effulgence of the day. From him begins this beam of gay delight, When aught harmonious strikes th' attentive mind; In him shall end; for he attuned the frame Of passive organs with internal sense, To feel an instantaneous glow of joy, When Beauty from her native seat of Heaven, Clothed in ethereal wildness, on our plains Descends, ere Reason with her tardy eye Can view the form divine; and through the world The heavenly boon to every being flows.
* * * * *
Nor less admire those things, which viewed apart Uncouth appear, or horrid; ridges black Of shagged rocks, which hang tremendous o'er Some barren heath; the congregated clouds Which spread their sable skirts, and wait the wind To burst th' embosomed storm; a leafless wood, A mouldering ruin, lightning-blasted fields; Nay, e'en the seat where Desolation reigns In brownest horror; by familiar thought Connected to this universal frame, With equal beauty charms the tasteful soul As the gold landscapes of the happy isles Crowned with Hesperian fruit: for Nature formed One plan entire, and made each separate scene Co-operate with the general of all In that harmonious contrast.
* * * * *
From these sweet meditations on the charms Of things external, on the genuine forms Which blossom in creation, on the scene Where mimic art with emulative hue Usurps the throne of Nature unreproved, On the just concord of mellifluent sounds; The soul, and all the intellectual train Of fond desires, gay hopes, or threatening fears, Through this habitual intercourse of sense Is harmonized within, till all is fair And perfect; till each moral power perceives Its own resemblance, with fraternal joy, In every form complete, and smiling feels Beauty and Good the same.
Written in the beginning of the year 1746
How sleep the brave who sink to rest By all their country's wishes blest! When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallowed mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung, By forms unseen their dirge is sung; There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey, To bless the turf that wraps their clay; And Freedom shall awhile repair, To dwell a weeping hermit there!
ODE TO EVENING
If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear, Like thy own solemn springs Thy springs and dying gales,
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haired sun Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts, With brede ethereal wove, O'erhang his wavy bed:
Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat, With short, shrill shriek, flits by on leathern wing; Or where the beetle winds His small but sullen horn.
As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path, Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum: Now teach me, maid composed, To breathe some softened strain,
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale, May not unseemly with its stillness suit, As, musing slow, I hail Thy genial loved return!
For when thy folding-star, arising, shows His paly circlet, at his warning lamp The fragrant Hours, and elves Who slept in flowers the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge, And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still, The pensive Pleasures sweet, Prepare thy shadowy car.
Then lead, calm votaress, where some sheety lake Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallowed pile Or upland fallows grey Reflect its last cool gleam.
But when chill blustering winds or driving rain Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut That from the mountain's side Views wilds, and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires, And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all Thy dewy fingers draw The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont, And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve; While Summer loves to sport Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves; Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air, Affrights thy shrinking train, And rudely rends thy robes;
So long, sure-found beneath the sylvan shed, Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, rose-lipped Health, Thy gentlest influence own, And hymn, thy favourite name!
ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER
As once—-if not with light regard I read aright that gifted bard (Him whose school above the rest His loveliest Elfin Queen has blest)— One, only one, unrivalled fair Might hope the magic girdle wear, At solemn tourney hung on high, The wish of each love-darting eye; Lo! to each other nymph in turn applied, As if, in air unseen, some hovering hand, Some chaste and angel friend to virgin fame, With whispered spell had burst the starting band,
It left unblest her loathed, dishonoured side; Happier, hopeless fair, if never Her baffled hand, with vain endeavour, Had touched that fatal zone to her denied! Young Fancy thus, to me divinest name, To whom, prepared and bathed in heaven, The cest of amplest power is given, To few the godlike gift assigns To gird their blest, prophetic loins, And gaze her visions wild, and feel unmixed her flame!
The band, as fairy legends say, Was wove on that creating day When He who called with thought to birth Yon tented sky, this laughing earth, And dressed with springs and forests tall, And poured the main engirting all, Long by the loved enthusiast wood, Himself in some diviner mood, Retiring, sate with her alone, And placed her on his sapphire throne, The whiles, the vaulted shrine around, Seraphic wires were heard to sound, Now sublimest triumph swelling, Now on love and mercy dwelling; And she, from out the veiling cloud, Breathed her magic notes aloud, And thou, thou rich-haired Youth of Morn, And all thy subject life, was born! The dangerous passions kept aloof, Far from the sainted growing woof: But near it sate ecstatic Wonder, Listening the deep applauding thunder; And Truth, in sunny vest arrayed, By whose the tarsel's eyes were made; All the shadowy tribes of mind, In braided dance, their murmurs joined, And all the bright uncounted powers Who feed on heaven's ambrosial flowers. Where is the bard whose soul can now Its high presuming hopes avow? Where he who thinks, with rapture blind, This hallowed work for him designed?
High on some cliff, to heaven up-piled, Of rude access, of prospect wild, Where, tangled round the jealous steep, Strange shades o'erbrow the valleys deep. And holy genii guard the rock, Its glooms embrown, its springs unlock, While on its rich ambitious head An Eden, like his own, lies spread,
I view that oak, the fancied glades among, By which as Milton lay, his evening ear, From many a cloud that dropped ethereal dew, Nigh sphered in heaven, its native strains could hear, On which that ancient trump he reached was hung: Thither oft, his glory greeting, From Waller's myrtle shades retreating, With many a vow from Hope's aspiring tongue, My trembling feet his guiding steps pursue; In vain—such bliss to one alone Of all the sons of soul was known, And Heaven and Fancy, kindred powers, Have now o'erturned th' inspiring bowers, Or curtained close such scene from every future view.
AN ODE FOR MUSIC
When Music, heavenly maid, was young, While yet in early Greece she sung, The Passions oft, to hear her shell, Thronged around her magic cell, Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting, Possessed beyond the Muse's painting; By turns they felt the glowing mind Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined:
Till once, 'tis said, when all were fired, Filled with fury, rapt, inspired, From the supporting myrtles round They snatched her instruments of sound; And, as they oft had heard apart Sweet lessons of her forceful art, Each (for madness ruled the hour) Would prove his own expressive power.
First Fear in hand, its skill to try, Amid the chords bewildered laid, And back recoiled, he knew not why, Even at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rushed: his eyes, on fire, In lightnings owned his secret stings; In one rude clash he struck the lyre, And swept with hurried hand the strings.
With woeful measures wan Despair Low, sullen sounds his grief beguiled; A solemn, strange, and mingled air— 'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.
But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair, What was thy delightful measure? Still it whispered promised pleasure, And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail! Still would her touch the strain prolong; And from the rocks, the woods, the vale, She called on Echo still, through all the song; And where her sweetest theme she chose, A soft responsive voice was heard at every close, And Hope, enchanted, smiled, and waved her golden hair.
And longer had she sung—but with a frown Revenge impatient rose; He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down, And with a withering look The war-denouncing trumpet took, And blew a blast so loud and dread, Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe.
And ever and anon he beat The doubling drum with furious heat; And though sometimes, each dreary pause between, Dejected Pity, at his side, Her soul-subduing voice applied, Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien, While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from his head. Thy numbers, Jealousy, to naught were fixed, Sad proof of thy distressful state; Of differing themes the veering—song was mixed, And now It courted Love, now raving called on Hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired, Pale Melancholy sate retired, And from her wild sequestered seat, In notes by distance made more sweet, Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul; And, dashing soft from rocks around, Bubbling runnels joined the sound: Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole, Or o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay, Round an holy calm diffusing, Love of peace and lonely musing, In hollow murmurs died away,
But O how altered was its sprightlier tone, When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue, Her how across her shoulder flung, Her buskins gemmed with morning dew, Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung, The hunter's call, to faun and dryad known! The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen, Satyrs, and sylvan boys, were seen, Peeping from forth their alleys green; Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear; And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear. Last came Joy's ecstatic trial: He, with viny crown advancing, First to the lively pipe his hand addressed; But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol, Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best.
They would have thought, who heard the strain, They saw in Tempe's vale her native maids, Amidst the festal-sounding shades, To some unwearied minstrel dancing, While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings, Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round; Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound, And he, amidst his frolic play, As if he would the charming air repay, Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.
O Music! sphere-descended maid! Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid! Why, goddess, why, to us denied, Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside? As in that loved Athenian bower You learned an all-commanding power, Thy mimic soul, O nymph endeared, Can well recall what then it heard. Where is thy native simple heart, Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art? Arise as in that elder time, Warm energic, chaste, sublime! Thy wonders, in that godlike age, Fill thy recording sister's page: 'Tis said, and I believe the tale, Thy humblest reed could more prevail, Had more of strength, diviner rage, Than all which charms this laggard age, E'en all at once together found, Cecilia's mingled world of sound. O bid our vain endeavours cease: Revive the just designs of Greece; Return in all thy simple state; Confirm the tales her sons relate!
ODE ON THE POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS OF THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND
CONSIDERED AS THE SUBJECT OF POETRY
H——, thou return'st from Thames, whose naiads long Have seen thee lingering, with a fond delay, 'Mid those soft friends, whose hearts, some future day, Shall melt, perhaps, to hear thy tragic song. Go, not, unmindful of that cordial youth Whom, long-endeared, thou leav'st by Levant's side; Together let us wish him lasting truth, And joy untainted, with his destined bride. Go! nor regardless, while these numbers boast My short-lived bliss, forget my social name; But think, far off, how on the Southern coast I met thy friendship with an equal flame! Fresh to that soil thou turn'st, whose every vale Shall prompt the poet, and his song demand: To thee thy copious subjects ne'er shall fail; Thou need'st but take the pencil to thy hand, And paint what all believe who own thy genial land.
There must thou wake perforce thy Doric quill; 'Tis Fancy's land to which thou sett'st thy feet, Where still, 'tis said, the fairy people meet Beneath each birken shade on mead or hill. There each trim lass that skims the milky store To the swart tribes their creamy bowl allots; By night they sip it round the cottage door, While airy minstrels warble jocund notes. There every herd, by sad experience, knows How, winged with fate, their elf-shot arrows fly; When the sick ewe her summer food foregoes, Or, stretched on earth, the heart-smit heifers lie. Such airy beings awe th' untutored swain: Nor thou, though learn'd, his homelier thoughts neglect; Let thy sweet Muse the rural faith sustain: These are the themes of simple, sure effect, That add new conquests to her boundless reign, And fill, with double force, her heart-commanding strain.
Even yet preserved, how often may'st thou hear, Where to the pole the boreal mountains run, Taught by the father to his listening son, Strange lays, whose power had charmed a Spenser's ear. At every pause, before thy mind possessed, Old Runic bards shall seem to rise around, With uncouth lyres, in many-coloured vest, Their matted hair with boughs fantastic crowned: Whether thou bid'st the well-taught hind repeat The choral dirge that mourns some chieftain brave, When every shrieking maid her bosom beat, And strewed with choicest herbs his scented grave; Or whether, sitting in the shepherd's shiel, Thou hear'st some sounding tale of war's alarms, When, at the bugle's call, with fire and steel, The sturdy clans poured forth their bony swarms, And hostile brothers met to prove each other's arms.
'Tis thine to sing, how, framing hideous spells, In Skye's lone isle the gifted wizard seer, Lodged in the wintry cave with [Fate's fell spear;] Or in the depth of Uist's dark forests dwells: How they whose sight such dreary dreams engross, With their own visions oft astonished droop, When o'er the watery strath of quaggy moss They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop; Or if in sports, or on the festive green, Their [destined] glance some fated youth descry, Who, now perhaps in lusty vigour seen And rosy health, shall soon lamented die. For them the viewless forms of air obey, Their bidding heed, and at their beck repair. They know what spirit brews the stormful day, And, heartless, oft like moody madness stare To see the phantom train their secret work prepare.
[To monarchs dear, some hundred miles astray, Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow! The seer, in Skye, shrieked as the blood did flow, When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay! As Boreas threw his young Aurora forth, In the first year of the first George's reign, And battles raged in welkin of the North, They mourned in air, fell, fell Rebellion slain! And as, of late, they joyed in Preston's fight, Saw at sad Falkirk all their hopes near crowned, They raved, divining, through their second sight, Pale, red Culloden, where these hopes were drowned! Illustrious William! Britain's guardian name! One William saved us from a tyrant's stroke; He, for a sceptre, gained heroic fame; But thou, more glorious, Slavery's chain hast broke, To reign a private man, and bow to Freedom's yoke!
These, too, thou'lt sing! for well thy magic Muse Can to the topmost heaven of grandeur soar! Or stoop to wail the swain that is no more! Ah, homely swains! your homeward steps ne'er lose; Let not dank Will mislead you to the heath: Dancing in mirky night, o'er fen and lake, He glows, to draw you downward to your death, In his bewitched, low, marshy willow brake!] What though far off, from some dark dell espied, His glimmering mazes cheer th' excursive sight, Yet turn, ye wanderers, turn your steps aside, Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light; For, watchful, lurking 'mid th' unrustling reed, At those mirk hours the wily monster lies, And listens oft to hear the passing steed, And frequent round him rolls his sullen eyes, If chance his savage wrath may some weak wretch surprise.
Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unblest indeed! Whom, late bewildered in the dank, dark fen, Far from his flocks and smoking hamlet then, To that sad spot [where hums the sedgy weed:] On him, enraged, the fiend, in angry mood, Shall never look with Pity's kind concern, But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood O'er its drowned bank, forbidding all return. Or, if he meditate his wished escape To some dim hill that seems uprising near, To his faint eye the grim and grisly shape, In all its terrors clad, shall wild appear. Meantime, the watery surge shall round him rise, Poured sudden forth from every swelling source. What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs? His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthly force, And down the waves he floats, a pale and breathless corse.
For him, in vain, his anxious wife shall wait, Or wander forth to meet him on his way; For him, in vain, at to-fall of the day, His babes shall linger at th' unclosing gate. Ah, ne'er shall he return! Alone, if night Her travelled limbs in broken slumbers steep, With dropping willows dressed, his mournful sprite Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep: Then he, perhaps, with moist and watery hand, Shall fondly seem to press her shuddering cheek, And with his blue-swoln face before her stand, And, shivering cold, these piteous accents speak: 'Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils pursue At dawn or dusk, industrious as before; Nor e'er of me one hapless thought renew, While I lie weltering on the oziered shore, Drowned by the kelpie's wrath, nor e'er shall aid thee more!'
Unbounded is thy range; with varied style Thy Muse may, like those feathery tribes which spring From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle To that hoar pile which still its ruin shows: In whose small vaults a pigmy-folk is found, Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows, And culls them, wondering, from the hallowed ground! Or thither, where, beneath the showery West, The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid: Once foes, perhaps, together now they rest; No slaves revere them, and no wars invade: Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour, The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold, And forth the monarchs stalk with sovereign power, In pageant robes, and wreathed with sheeny gold, And on their twilight tombs aerial council hold.
But oh, o'er all, forget not Kilda's race, On whose bleak rocks, which brave the wasting tides, Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides. Go, just as they, their blameless manners trace! Then to my ear transmit some gentle song Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain, Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along, And all their prospect but the wintry main. With sparing temperance, at the needful time, They drain the sainted spring, or, hunger-pressed, Along th' Atlantic rock undreading climb, And of its eggs despoil the solan's nest. Thus blest in primal innocence they live, Sufficed and happy with that frugal fare Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give. Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare; Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!
Nor need'st thou blush, that such false themes engage Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possessed; For not alone they touch the village breast, But filled in elder time th' historic page. There Shakespeare's self, with every garland crowned,— [Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheen!]— In musing hour, his wayward Sisters found, And with their terrors dressed the magic scene. From them he sung, when, 'mid his bold design, Before the Scot afflicted and aghast, The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant passed. Proceed, nor quit the tales which, simply told, Could once so well my answering bosom pierce; Proceed! in forceful sounds and colours bold, The native legends of thy land rehearse; To such adapt thy lyre and suit thy powerful verse.
In scenes like these, which, daring to depart From sober truth, are still to nature true, And call forth fresh delight to Fancy's view, Th' heroic muse employed her Tasso's art! How have I trembled, when, at Tancred's stroke, Its gushing blood the gaping cypress poured; When each live plant with mortal accents spoke, And the wild blast upheaved the vanished sword! How have I sat, when piped the pensive wind, To hear his harp, by British Fairfax strung,— Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind Believed the magic wonders which he sung! Hence at each sound imagination glows; [The MS. lacks a line here.] Hence his warm lay with softest sweetness flows; Melting it flows, pure, numerous, strong, and clear, And fills th' impassioned heart, and wins th' harmonious ear.
All hail, ye scenes that o'er my soul prevail, Ye [splendid] friths and lakes which, far away, Are by smooth Annan fill'd, or pastoral Tay, Or Don's romantic springs; at distance, hail! The time shall come when I, perhaps, may tread Your lowly glens, o'erhung with spreading broom, Or o'er your stretching heaths by fancy led [Or o'er your mountains creep, in awful gloom:] Then will I dress once more the faded bower. Where Jonson sat in Drummond's [classic] shade, Or crop from Teviot's dale each [lyric flower] And mourn on Yarrow's banks [where Willy's laid!] Meantime, ye Powers that on the plains which bore The cordial youth, on Lothian's plains, attend, Where'er he dwell, on hill or lowly muir, To him I lose your kind protection lend, And, touched with love like mine, preserve my absent friend!
FROM THE PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY
Beneath yon ruined abbey's moss-grown piles Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve, Where through some western window the pale moon Pours her long-levelled rule of streaming light, While sullen, sacred silence reigns around, Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bower Amid the mouldering caverns dark and damp, Or the calm breeze that rustles in the leaves Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green Invests some wasted tower. Or let me tread Its neighbouring walk of pines, where mused of old The cloistered brothers: through the gloomy void That far extends beneath their ample arch As on I pace, religious horror wraps My soul in dread repose. But when the world Is clad in midnight's raven-coloured robe, 'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare O'er the wan heaps, while airy voices talk Along the glimmering walls, or ghostly shape, At distance seen, invites with beckoning hand, My lonesome steps through the far-winding vaults. Nor undelightful is the solemn noon Of night, when, haply wakeful, from my couch I start: lo, all is motionless around! Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men And every beast in mute oblivion lie; All nature's hushed in silence and in sleep: O then how fearful is it to reflect That through the still globe's awful solitude No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews. Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born, My senses lead through flowery paths of joy: But let the sacred genius of the night Such mystic visions send as Spenser saw When through bewildering Fancy's magic maze, To the fell house of Busyrane, he led Th' unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew, When in abstracted thought he first conceived All Heaven in tumult, and the seraphim Come towering, armed in adamant and gold.
* * * * *
Through Pope's soft song though all the Graces breathe, And happiest art adorn his Attic page, Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow, As, at the root of mossy trunk reclined, In magic Spenser's wildly-warbled song I see deserted Una wander wide Through wasteful solitudes and lurid heaths, Weary, forlorn, than when the fated fair Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames Launches in all the lustre of brocade, Amid the splendours of the laughing sun: The gay description palls upon the sense, And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
* * * * *
The tapered choir, at the late hour of prayer, Oft let me tread, while to th' according voice The many-sounding organ peals on high The clear slow-dittied chant or varied hymn, Till all my soul is bathed in ecstasies And lapped in Paradise. Or let me sit Far in sequestered aisles of the deep dome; There lonesome listen to the sacred sounds, Which, as they lengthen through the Gothic vaults, In hollow murmurs reach my ravished ear. Nor when the lamps, expiring, yield to night, And solitude returns, would I forsake The solemn mansion, but attentive mark The due clock swinging slow with sweepy sway, Measuring Time's flight with momentary sound.
From THE GRAVE OF KING ARTHUR
[THE PASSING OF THE KING]
O'er Cornwall's cliffs the tempest roared, High the screaming sea-mew soared; On Tintagel's topmost tower Darksome fell the sleety shower; Round the rough castle shrilly sung The whirling blast, and wildly flung On each tall rampart's thundering side The surges of the tumbling tide: When Arthur ranged his red-cross ranks On conscious Camlan's crimsoned banks: By Mordred's faithless guile decreed Beneath a Saxon spear to bleed! Yet in vain a paynim foe Armed with fate the mighty blow; For when he fell, an Elfin Queen All in secret, and unseen, O'er the fainting hero threw Her mantle of ambrosial blue; And bade her spirits bear him far, In Merlin's agate-axled car, To her green isle's enamelled steep Far in the navel of the deep. O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew From flowers that in Arabia grew: On a rich enchanted bed She pillowed his majestic head; O'er his brow, with whispers bland, Thrice she waved an opiate wand; And to soft music's airy sound, Her magic curtains closed around, There, renewed the vital spring, Again he reigns a mighty king; And many a fair and fragrant clime, Blooming in immortal prime, By gales of Eden ever fanned, Owns the monarch's high command: Thence to Britain shall return (If right prophetic rolls I learn), Born on Victory's spreading plume, His ancient sceptre to resume; Once more, in old heroic pride, His barbed courser to bestride; His knightly table to restore, And brave the tournaments of yore.
SONNET WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF DUGDALE'S 'MONASTICON'
Deem not devoid of elegance the sage, By Fancy's genuine feelings unbeguiled, Of painful pedantry the poring child, Who turns, of these proud domes, th' historic page, Now sunk by Time, and Henry's fiercer rage. Think'st thou the warbling Muses never smiled On his lone hours? Ingenuous views engage His thoughts, on themes, unclassic falsely styled, Intent. While cloistered Piety displays Her mouldering roll, the piercing eye explores New manners, and the pomp of elder days, Whence culls the pensive bard his pictured stores. Nor rough nor barren are the winding ways Of hoar antiquity, but strown with flowers.
SONNET WRITTEN AT STONEHENGE
Thou noblest monument of Albion's isle! Whether by Merlin's aid from Scythia's shore, To Amber's fatal plain Pendragon bore, Huge frame of giant-hands, the mighty pile, T' entomb his Britons slain by Hengist's guile: Or Druid priests, sprinkled with human gore, Taught 'mid thy massy maze their mystic lore: Or Danish chiefs, enriched with savage spoil, To Victory's idol vast, an unhewn shrine, Reared the rude heap: or, in thy hallowed round, Repose the kings of Brutus' genuine line; Or here those kings in solemn state were crowned: Studious to trace thy wondrous origin, We muse on many an ancient tale renowned.
SONNET TO THE RIVER LODON
Ah! what a weary race my feet have run, Since first I trod thy banks with alders crowned, And thought my way was all through fairy ground, Beneath thy azure sky and golden sun, Where first my Muse to lisp her notes begun! While pensive Memory traces back the round, Which fills the varied interval between; Much pleasure, more of sorrow, marks the scene. Sweet native stream! those skies and suns so pure No more return, to cheer my evening road! Yet still one joy remains: that not obscure Nor useless, all my vacant days have flowed, From youth's gay dawn to manhood's prime mature; Nor with the Muse's laurel unbestowed.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers, That crown the watery glade, Where grateful Science still adores Her Henry's holy shade; And ye, that from the stately brow Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey, Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among Wanders the hoary Thames along His silver-winding way.
Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shade! Ah, fields beloved in vain! Where once my careless childhood strayed, A stranger yet to pain! I feel the gales that from ye blow, A momentary bliss bestow, As waving fresh their gladsome wing, My weary soul they seem to soothe, And, redolent of joy and youth, To breathe a second spring.
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen Full many a sprightly race Disporting on thy margent green The paths of pleasure trace, Who foremost now delight to cleave With pliant arm thy glassy wave? The captive linnet which enthrall? What idle progeny succeed To chase the rolling circle's speed, Or urge the flying ball?
While some on earnest business bent Their murmuring labours ply 'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint To sweeten liberty: Some bold adventurers disdain The limits of their little reign, And unknown regions dare descry: Still as they run they look behind, They hear a voice in every wind, And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed, Less pleasing when possessed; The tear forgot as soon as shed, The sunshine of the breast: Theirs buxom health of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever-new, And lively cheer of vigour born; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light, That fly th' approach of morn.
Alas! regardless of their doom, The little victims play; No sense have they of ills to come, Nor care beyond to-day: Yet see how all around 'em wait The ministers of human fate, And black Misfortune's baleful train! Ah, shew them where in ambush stand To seize their prey the murderous band! Ah, tell them, they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear, The vultures of the mind, Disdainful, Anger, pallid Fear, And Shame that skulks behind; Or pining Love shall waste their youth, Or Jealousy with rankling tooth, That inly gnaws the secret heart, And Envy wan, and faded Care, Grim-visaged comfortless Despair, And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise, Then whirl the wretch from high, To bitter Scorn a sacrifice, And grinning Infamy. The stings of Falsehood those shall try, And hard Unkindness' altered eye, That mocks the tear it forced to flow; And keen Remorse with blood defiled, And moody Madness laughing wild Amid severest woe.
Lo, in the vale of years beneath A grisly troop are seen, The painful family of Death, More hideous than their Queen: This racks the joints, this fires the veins, That every labouring sinew strains, Those in the deeper vitals rage: Lo, Poverty, to fill the band, That numbs the soul with icy hand, And slow-consuming Age.
To each his sufferings; all are men, Condemned alike to groan, The tender for another's pain; The unfeeling for his own. Yet, ah! why should they know their fate, Since sorrow never comes too late, And happiness too swiftly flies? Thought would destroy their paradise. No more; where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.
HYMN TO ADVERSITY
Daughter of Jove, relentless power, Thou tamer of the human breast, Whose iron scourge and torturing hour The bad affright, afflict the best! Bound in thy adamantine chain, The proud are taught to taste of pain, And purple tyrants vainly groan With pangs unfelt before, unpitied and alone.
When first thy sire to send on earth Virtue, his darling child, designed, To thee he gave the heavenly birth, And bade to form her infant mind. Stern, rugged nurse! thy rigid lore With patience many a year she bore; What sorrow was thou bad'st her know, And from her own she learned to melt at other's woe.
Scared at thy frown terrific, fly Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood, Wild Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy, And leave us leisure to be good: Light they disperse, and with them go The summer friend, the flattering foe; By vain Prosperity received, To her they TOW their truth, and are again believed.
Wisdom in sable garb arrayed, Immersed in rapturous thought profound, And Melancholy, silent maid With leaden eye, that loves the ground, Still on thy solemn steps attend; Warm Charity, the genial friend, With Justice, to herself severe, And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear,
Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head, Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand! Hot in thy Gorgon terrors clad, Nor circled with the vengeful band (As by the impious thou art seen), With thundering voice and threatening mien, With screaming Horror's funeral cry, Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty:
Thy form benign, O goddess, wear, Thy milder influence impart; Thy philosophic train be there To soften, not to wound, my heart; The generous spark extinct revive, Teach me to love and to forgive, Exact nay own defects to scan, What others are to feel, and know myself a man.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such, as wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell forever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Or busy housewife ply her evening care: No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile, The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th' inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust, Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood,
Th' applause of listening senates to command, The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land, And read their history in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learned to stray; Along the cool sequestered vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their names, their years, spelt by th' unlettered Muse, The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey, This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies, Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Even from the tomb the voice of Nature cries, Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who mindful of th' unhonoured dead Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If chance, by lonely contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn, Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
'One morn I missed him on the customed hill, Along the heath, and near his favourite tree Another came; nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
'The next with dirges due in sad array Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne, Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
_Here rests his head upon the lap of earth A youth to fortune and to fame unknown; Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth, And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere; Heaven did a recompense as largely send: He gave to Misery (all he had) a tear, He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,)— The bosom of his Father and his God._
THE PROGRESS OF POESY
Awake, Aeolian lyre, awake, And give to rapture all thy trembling strings! From Helicon's harmonious springs A thousand rills their mazy progress take; The laughing flowers that round them blow Drink life and fragrance as they flow. Now the rich stream of music winds along Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong, Through verdant vales and Ceres' golden reign: Now rolling down the steep amain, Headlong, impetuous, see it pour; The rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar.
Oh sovereign of the willing soul, Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs, Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares And frantic Passions hear thy soft control. On Thracia's hills the Lord of War Has curbed the fury of his car And dropped his thirsty lance at thy command. Perching on the sceptred hand Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king With ruffled plumes and flagging wing; Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie The terror of his beak and lightnings of his eye.
Thee the voice, the dance, obey, Tempered to thy warbled lay. O'er Idalia's velvet-green The rosy-crowned Loves are seen, On Cytherea's day, With antic Sports and blue-eyed Pleasures Frisking light in frolic measures: Now pursuing, now retreating, Now in circling troops they meet; To brisk notes in cadence beating Glance their many-twinkling feet.
Slow melting strains their Queen's approach declare: Where'er she turns the Graces homage pay; With arms sublime, that float upon the air, In gliding state she wins her easy way; O'er her warm cheek and rising bosom move The bloom of young Desire and purple light of Love.
Man's feeble race what ills await: Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain, Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train, And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate! The fond complaint, my song, disprove, And justify the laws of Jove. Say, has he given in vain the heavenly Muse? Night, and all her sickly dews, Her spectres wan, and birds of boding cry, He gives to range the dreary sky; Till down the eastern cliffs afar Hyperion's march they spy, and glittering shafts of war,
In climes beyond the solar road, Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam, The Muse has broke the twilight-gloom To cheer the shivering native's dull abode. And oft, beneath the odorous shade Of Chili's boundless forests laid, She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat, In loose numbers wildly sweet, Their feather-cinctured chiefs and dusky loves. Her track, where'er the goddess roves, Glory pursue, and generous Shame, Th' unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.
Woods that wave o'er Delphi's steep, Isles that crown th' Aegean deep, Fields that cool Ilissus laves, Or where Maeander's amber waves In lingering labyrinths creep, How do your tuneful echoes languish, Mute but to the voice of Anguish? Where each old poetic mountain Inspiration breathed around, Every shade and hallowed fountain Murmured deep a solemn sound; Till the sad Nine in Greece's evil hour Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains: Alike they scorn the pomp of tyrant Power, And coward Vice that revels in her chains. When Latium had her lofty spirit lost, They sought, O Albion! next, thy sea-encircled coast.
Far from the sun and summer-gale, In thy green lap was Nature's darling laid, What time, where lucid Avon strayed, To him the mighty mother did unveil Her awful face: the dauntless child Stretched forth his little arms, and smiled. 'This pencil take,' she said, 'whose colours clear Richly paint the vernal year. Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy! This can unlock the gates of Joy; Of Horror that, and thrilling Fears, Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears.'
Nor second he that rode sublime Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy, The secrets of th' abyss to spy. He passed the flaming bounds of Place and Time: The living throne, the sapphire blaze, Where angels tremble while they gaze, He saw; but, blasted with excess of light, Closed his eyes in endless night. Behold where Dryden's less presumptuous car Wide o'er the fields of glory bear Two coursers of ethereal race, With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace! III. 3
Hark! his hands the lyre explore: Bright-eyed Fancy, hovering o'er, Scatters from her pictured urn Thoughts that breathe and words that burn. But, ah, 'tis heard no more! O lyre divine, what daring spirit Wakes thee now? Though he inherit Nor the pride nor ample pinion That the Theban Eagle bear, Sailing with supreme dominion Through the azure deep of air, Yet oft before his infant eyes would run Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray, With orient hues unborrowed of the sun: Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate, Beneath the good how far—but far above the great.
'Ruin seize thee, ruthless king! Confusion on thy banners wait; Though fanned by conquest's crimson wing, They mock the air with idle state. Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail, Nor even thy virtues, tyrant, shall avail To save thy secret soul from nightly fears, From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears!' Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride Of the first Edward scattered wild dismay, As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side He wound with toilsome march his long array. Stout Gloucester stood aghast in speechless trance; 'To arms!' cried Mortimer, and couched his quivering lance.
On a rock, whose haughty brow Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood. Robed in the sable garb of woe, With haggard eyes the poet stood (Loose his heard and hoary hair Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air), And with a master's hand and prophet's fire Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre: 'Hark how each giant oak and desert cave Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! O'er thee, oh king! their hundred arms they wave, Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe, Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day, To high-born Hoel's harp or soft Llewellyn's lay.
'Cold is Cadwallo's tongue, That hushed the stormy main; Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed; Mountains, ye mourn in vain Modred, whose magic song Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topped head: On dreary Arvon's shore they lie, Smeared with gore and ghastly pale; Far, far aloof th' affrighted ravens sail; The famished eagle screams, and passes by. Dear lost companions of my tuneful art, Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes, Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart, Ye died amidst your dying country's cries— No more I weep: they do not sleep! On yonder cliffs, a grisly band, I see them sit; they linger yet Avengers of their native land: With me in dreadful harmony they join, And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line.
'Weave the warp and weave the woof, The winding-sheet of Edward's race; Give ample room and verge enough The characters of hell to trace: Mark the year, and mark the night, When Severn shall re-echo with affright The shrieks of death through Berkley's roofs that ring, Shrieks of an agonizing king!
She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs, That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate, From thee be born who o'er thy country hangs The scourge of Heaven: what terrors round him wait! Amazement in his van, with Flight combined, And Sorrow's faded form, and Solitude behind.
'Mighty victor, mighty lord! Low on his funeral couch he lies: No pitying heart, no eye, afford A tear to grace his obsequies. Is the Sable Warrior fled? Thy son is gone; he rests among the dead. The swarm that in thy noontide beam were born? Gone to salute the rising morn. Fair laughs the morn and soft the zephyr blows, While, proudly riding o'er the azure realm, In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes, Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm, Regardless of the sweeping Whirlwind's sway, That, hushed in grim repose, expects his evening prey.
'Fill high the sparkling bowl, The rich repast prepare; Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast: Close by the regal chair Fell Thirst and Famine scowl A baleful smile upon their baffled guest. Heard ye the din of battle bray, Lance to lance, and horse to horse? Long years of havoc urge their destined course, And through the kindred squadrons mow their way. Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame, With many a foul and midnight murther fed, Revere his consort's faith, his father's fame, And spare the meek usurper's holy head! Above, below, the rose of snow, Twined with her blushing foe, we spread: The bristled Boar in infant gore Wallows beneath thy thorny shade. Now, brothers, bending o'er th' accursed loom, Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom!