Page images
PDF
EPUB

LIBRARY

OF THE UNIVERSITY

OF

CALIFORNIA

THE PAGEANT

OF

ENGLISH POETRY

1. IT MUST BE SO-PLATO, THOU REASON’ST WELL

It must be so—Plato, thou reason'st well,
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality ?
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror
Of falling into nought ? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself and startles at destruction ?
_'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us,
'Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates Eternity to man.
Eternity !—thou pleasing-dreadful thought !
Through what variety of untried being-
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me ;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold :If there's a Power above us
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works), he must delight in Virtue ;
And that which he delights in must be happy :
But-when ?-or where ?—This world was made for Caesar.
I'm weary of conjectures :—This must end them.

[Laying his hand on his sword.
Thus I am doubly armed; my death and life,
My bane and antidote are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end,
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years ;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.

J. ADDISON (Cato). +

B

2. THE SPACIOUS FIRMAMENT ON HIGH THE spacious firmament on high, Whilst all the stars that round With all the blue ethereal sky, her burn, And spangled heavens, a shining And all the planets in their turn, frame,

Confirm the tidings as they roll, Their great Original proclaim. And spread the truth from pole The unwearied sun, from day to to pole. day,

What though in solemn silence all Does his Creator's power display ;

Move round the dark terrestrial And publishes to every land

ball; The work of an Almighty hand.

What though nor real voice nor

sound

[blocks in formation]

Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice ;
For' ever singing, as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine.'

J. ADDISON.

3. HE MANY A CREATURE DID ANATOMIZE
He many a creature did anatomize,

Almost unpeopling water, air, and land ;
Beasts, fishes, birds, snails, caterpillars, flies,

Were laid full low by his relentless hand,
That oft with gory crimson was distained :

He many a dog destroyed, and many a cat
Of fleas his bed, of frogs the marshes drained,

Could tellen if a mite were lean or fat,
And read a lecture o'er the entrails of a gnat.

M. AKENSIDE (The Virtuoso).

4. THE HAND OF NATURE
The hand of Nature on peculiar minds
Imprints a different bias, and to each
Decrees its province in the common toil.

Some within a finer mould
She wrought and tempered with a purer flame.
To these the Sire Omnipotent unfolds
The world's harmonious volume, there to read
The transcript of Himself. On every part
They trace the bright impressions of His hand ;
In earth, or air, the meadow's purple stores,
The moon's mild radiance, or the virgin's form
Blooming with rosy smiles, they see portrayed
That uncreated Beauty which delights
The Mind supreme. They also feel her charms,
Enamoured : they partake the eternal joy.

M. AKENSIDE "(The Pleasures of the imagination).

one

[ocr errors]

ac

5. FROM LINES WRITTEN BY A DEATH-BED' But ah, though peace indeed is Because it has the hope to come, here,

One day, to harbour in the tomb ? And ease from shame, and rest Ah no, the bliss youth dreams is

from fear ; Though nothing can dismarble now For daylight, for the cheerful sun, The smoothness of that limpid For feeling nerves and living brow;

breath Yet is a calm like this, in truth, Youth dreams a bliss on this side The crowning end of life and youth? death. And when this boon rewards the It dreams a rest, if not more deep, dead,

More grateful than this marble Are all debts paid, has all been sleep. said ?

It hears a voice within it tellAnd is the heart of youth so light, • Calm 's not life's crown, though Its step so firm, its eye so bright, calm is well.' Because on its hot brow there blows 'Tis all perhaps which man A wind of promise and repose

quires: From thefargrave, to which it goes? But’tis not whatour youth desires.

M. ARNOLD. 6. WORDSWORTH AND GOETHE But Wordsworth's eyes avert their For though his manhood bore the ken

blast From half of human fate ;

Of a tremendous time, And Goethe's course few sons of Yet in a tranquil world was passed

His tenderer youthful prime. May think to emulate.

But we, brought forth and reared For he pursued a lonely road,

in hours His eyes on Nature's plan ; Of change, alarm, surpriseNeither made man too much a What shelter to grow ripe is ours ? God,

What leisure to grow wise ?
Nor God too much a man.
Strong was he, with a spirit free Too fast we live, too much are tried,
From mists, and sane, and clear; Too harassed, to attain
Clearer, how much ! than ours: Wordsworth's sweet calm,
yet we

Goethe's wide
Have a worse course to steer. And luminous view to gain.

M. ARNOLD (Stanzas in memory of the Author of 'Obermann ).

men

!

or

7. CALM SOUL OF ALL THINGS Calm Soul of all things ! make it

The will to neither strive nor cry, mine

The power to feel with others give. To feel, amid the city's jar, Calm, calm me more ; nor let me That there abides a peace of thine,

die Man did not make, and cannot mar. Before I have begun to live.

M. ARNOLD (Lines written in Kensington Gardens).

blow;

brine ;

8. THE FORSAKEN MERMAN COME, dear children, let us away; Where the winds are all asleep; Down and away below.

Where the spent lights quiver and Now my brothers callfrom the bay; gleam; Now the great winds shorewards Where the salt weed sways in the

stream; Now the salt tides seawards flow; Where the sea-beasts ranged all Now the wild white horses play,

round Champ and chafe and toss in the Feed in the ooze of their pasturespray.

ground; Children dear, let us away. Where the sea-snakes coil and This way, this way.

twine,

Dry their mail and bask in the Call her once before you go. Call once yet.

Where great whales come sailing In a voice that she will know :

by, Margaret ! Margaret!'

Sail and sail, with unshut eye, Children's voices should be dear

Round the world for ever and ay ? (Call once more) to a mother's ear: When did music come this way? Children's voices, wild with pain. Children dear, was it yesterday? Surely she will come again. Call her once and come away.

Children dear, was it yesterday This way, this way.

(Call yet once) that she went Mother dear, we cannot stay.'

away ? The wild white horses foam and

Once she sate with you and me, fret.

On a red gold throne in the heart Margaret ! Margaret !

of the sea,

And the youngest sate on her knee. Come, dear children, come away

She combed its bright hair, and she down.

tended it well, Call no more.

When down swung the sound of One last look at the white-walled the far-off bell. town,

She sighed, she looked up through And the little grey church on the

the clear green sea. windy shore.

She said : ‘Imust go, for my kinsThen come down. She will not come though you call In the little grey church on the

shore to-day. Come away, come away.

'Twill be Easter-time in the

world-ah me! Children dear, was it yesterday And I lose my poor soul, Merman, We heard the sweet bells over the here with thee.' bay ?

I said : Go up, dear heart, In the caverns where we lay,

through the waves. Through the surf and through the Say thy prayer, and come back to swell,

the kind sea-caves.' The far-off sound of a silver bell ? She smiled, she went up through Sand-strewn caverns, cool and the surf in the bay. deep,

Children dear, was it yesterday ?

folk pray

all day.

[ocr errors]

Children dear, were we long

alone ? * The sea grows stormy, the little

ones moan. Long prayers,” I said, “in the world

they say. Come,' I said, and we rose through

the surf in the bay. We went up the beach, by the

sandy down Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the

white-walled town. Through the narrow paved streets,

where all was still, To the little grey church on the

windy hill. From the church came a murmur

of folk at their prayers, But we stood without in the cold

blowing airs. We climbed on the graves, on the

stones, worn with rains, And we gazed up the aisle through

the small leaded panes. She sate by the pillar; we saw

her clear : Margaret, hist! come quick, we

are here Dear heart,' I said, ' we are long

alone. The sea grows stormy, the little

ones moan.' But, ah, she gave me never a look, For her eyes were sealed to the

holy book. Loud prays the priest ; shut stands the door.

children, call no

For the humming street, and the

child with its toy. For the priest, and the bell, and

the holy well. For the wheel where I spun, And the blessed light of the sun.' And so she sings her fill, Singing most joyfully, Till the shuttle falls from her hand, And the whizzing wheel stands

still. She steals to the window, and looks

at the sand; And over the sand at the sea ; And her eyes are set in a stare; And anon there breaks a sigh, And anon there drops a tear, From a sorrow-clouded eye, And a heart sorrow-laden, A long, long sigh, For the cold strange eyes of a little

Mermaiden, And the gleam of her golden hair.

Come away, away, children. Come, children, come down. The hoarse wind blows colder ; Lights shine in the town. She will start from her slumber When gusts shake the door ; She will hear the winds howling, Will hear the waves roar. We shall see, while above us The waves roar and whirl, A ceiling of amber, A pavement of pearl. Singing, “Here came a mortal, But faithless was she. And alone dwell for ever The kings of the sea.' But, children, at midnight, When soft the winds blow; When clear falls the moonlight; When spring-tides are low : When sweet airs come seaward From heaths starred with broom; And high rocks throw mildly On the blanched sands a gloom : Up the still, glistening beaches,

Come away,

more.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »