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Shall I sing of little rills,
That trickle down the yellow hills,
To drive the Fairie's water mills ?-
Rills, upon whose pebbly brink,
Mountain birds may hop and drink—
Perching with a neck awry-
Darting upwards to the sky,
The artless cunning of their eye-
Then away, away, away-
Up to the clouds that look so grey-
Away, away, in the clear blue heaven,
Far o'er the thin mist that beneath is driven-
Now they sink, and now they soar,
Now poised upon the plumy oar-
Do they seek—at brightest noon,
For the light-enveiled moon—?
Climbing upwards would they know
Where the stars at morning go-
If I err not-no-no-no-
Soar they high, or skim they low,
Every little bird has still,
His heart beside the mountain rill.
What if we have lost the creed,
Which thought the brook a God indeed ?
Or a flood of passionate tears,
Inexhaustible by years ?
Or imagined, in the lymph,
The semblance of a virgin nymph,
With panting terror, flying ever,
From hairy Satyr's foul endeavour?
Hence ! phantoms of a blinded age,
That dream'd of nought but lust and rage,
The echo of a Sabbath bell
Is sweeter in the lonely dell,
Than the quaint fable of the wood-god's lay,
That only warbled to betray.
Ah-never, never may the thought be mine,
Though sung by poets old in song divine,
Which deem'd the pure, and undisturbed sky,
The palace of a tyrant deity-
Which in the thunder, heard a voice of anger,
And ruthless vengeance in the storm's loud clan-
Which found in every whisper of the woods,
In every moaning of the voiceful floods,
A long record of perishable languish,
Immortal echo of a mortal anguish.
Nay—mine be still,
The happy, happy faith-
That in deep silence hymning saith—
That every little rill,
And every small bird, trilling joyfully-
Tells a sweet tale of hope, and love, and peace,
Bidding to cease,
The heart's sharp pangs, aye throbbing woefully.
Or shall I sing of happy hours,
Number'd by opening and by closing flowers ?
Of smiles, and sighs that give no pain,
And seem as they were heav'd in vain-
Softly heard in leafy bowers,
Blent with the whisper of the vine,
The half-blush of the eglantine,
And the pure sweetness of the jessamine:
What is it those sighs confess ?
Idle are they, as I guess,
And yet they tell, all is not well :-
There is a secret, dim, demurring,
There is a restless spirit stirring,
Joy itself, the heart o’erloading,
Hath a sense of sad foreboding.
Then away to the meadows, where April's swift shadows
Glide soft o’er the vernal bright patches of green, Like waves on the ocean, the wheat blades in motion, Look blither, and brighter, where sunbeams have been,
So little, little joys on earth,
Passing gleams of restless mirth-
Momentary fits of laughter
Still bequeath a blessing after-
Flitting by on angel wing-
And like voices perishing.
At the instant of their birth,
Never, never, count their worth,
By the time of their enduring-
They are garners in a dearth,
Pleasant thoughts for age securing-
Rich deposits, firm ensuring,
Bliss, if bliss below may be,
And a joy for memory.
Such themes I sang—and such I fain would sing,
Oft as the green buds shew the summer near-
But what availeth me to welcome spring,
When one dull winter is
When the pure snow-drops couch beneath the snow,
And storms long tarrying, come too soon at last, I see the semblance of my private woe,
And tell it to the dilatory blast.
Yet will I hail the sunbeam as it flies
And bid the universal world be glad-
With my brief joy all souls shall sympathise-
And only I, will all alone be sad.
Oh, sacred Freedom ! thou that art so fair,
That all, who once have seen thee, love thee ever Thou apparition, that hast been so rare
That wise men say thou wert embodied never ; And learned sages, doating on their lore, Say thou hast been, and never shalt be more.
When Reason—that whate'er it is, must be
Was tangled in the complex web of life,
And Sin, the fruit of that forbidden tree,
Made human choice an everlasting strife ;
Then every Passion, native to the hour,
Claim'd Reason's privilege and Reason's power.
Yet some there are, and some that still have been,
Who feel, and hate, yet cannot cease to feel The conscious issue of the cause unseen,
The fate that whirls around the restless wheelSome to the stars ascribe the inborn evil, Some to the Gods, and others to the devil,