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And wild rose tiptoe upon hawthorn stocks,
Like a bold girl, who plays her agile pranks
At wakes and fairs with wandering mountebanks,—
When she stands cresting the clown's head, and mocks
The crowd beneath her. Verily I think,
Such place to me is sometimes like a dream
Or map of the whole world: thoughts, link by link,
Enter through ears and eyesight, with such gleam
Of all things, that at last in fear I shrink,
And leap at once from the delicious stream.
I Am not one who much or oft delight
To season my fireside with personal talk,
Of friends, who live within an easy walk;
Or neighbours, daily, weekly, in my sight:
And, for my chance-acquaintance, ladies bright,
Sons, mothers, maidens withering on the stalk,
These all wear out of me, like forms, with chalk
Painted on rich men's floors for one feast night.
Better than such discourse doth silence long,
Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
To sit without emotion, hope, or aim.
In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,
And listen to the flapping of the flame,
Or kettle whispering its faint undersong.
"Yet life," you say, "is life ; we have seen and see,
And with a living pleasure we describe;
And fits of sprightly malice do but bribe
The languid mind into activity.
Sound sense, and love itself, and mirth and glee
Are fostered by the comment and the gibe."
Even be it so: yet still among your tribe,
Our daily world's true worldlings, rank not me I
Children are blest, and powerful; their world lies
More justly balanced; partly at their feet,
And part far from them: sweetest melodies
Are those that are by distance made more sweet;
Whose mind is but the mind of his own eyes,
He is a slave; the meanest we can meet!
Wings have we, and as far as we can go
We may find pleasure: wilderness and wood,
Blank ocean and mere sky, support that mood
Which with the lofty sanctifies the low,
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
There find I personal themes, a plenteous store;
Matter wherein right voluble I am:
To which I listen with a ready ear;
Two shall be named, pre-eminently dear—
The gentle lady married to the Moor;
And heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb.
Nor can I not believe but that hereby Great gains are mine ; for thus I live remote From evil-speaking; rancour, never sought, Comes to me not: malignant truth, or lie. Hence have I genial seasons, hence have I Smooth passions, smooth discourse, and joyous thought: And thus from day to day my little boat Rocks in its harbour, lodging peaceably. Blessings be with them—and eternal praise, Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares— The poets, who on earth have made us heirs Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays! Mh! might my name be numbered among theirs, n iladly would I end my mortal days.
TO B. R. HAYDON.
High is our calling, friend! Creative art
Whether the instrument of words she use,
Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues,
Demands the service of a mind and heart,
Though sensitive, yet, in their weakest part,
Heroically fashioned—to infuse
Faith in the whispers of the lonely muse,
While the whole world seems adverse to desert.
And oh I when Nature sinks, as oft she may,
Through long-lived pressure of obscure distress,
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward,
And in the soul admit of no decay,
Brook no continuance of weak-mindedness;
Great is the glory, for the strife is hard I
Feom the dark chambers of dejection freed,
Spurning the unprofitable yoke of care,
Rise, Gillies, rise: the gales of youth shall bear
Thy genius f6rward like a winged steed.
Though bold Bellerophon (so Jove decreed
In wrath) fell headlong from the fields of air,
Yet a rich guerdon waits on minds that dare,
If aught be in them of immortal seed,
And reason govern that audacious flight
Which heavenward they direct. Then droop not thou,
Erroneously renewing a sad vow
In the low dell mid Roslin's faded grove:
A cheerful life is what the muses love,
A soaring spirit is their prime delight.
"FAIR PRIME OF LIFE."
Faie prime of life! were it enough to gild
With ready sunbeams every straggling shower;
And, if an unexpected cloud should lower,
Swiftly thereon a rainbow arch to build
For Fancy's errands,—then, from fields half-tilled
Gathering green weeds to mix with poppy flower.
Thee might thy minions crown, and chant thy power,
Unpitted by the wise, all censure stilled.
Ah! show that worthier honours are thy due;
Fair prime of life! arouse the deeper heart;
Confirm the spirit glorying to pursue
Some path of steep ascent and lofty aim;
And, if there be a joy that slights the claim
Of grateful memory, bid that joy depart.
THE SONG OF THE DYING SWAN.
I Hbakd (alas \ 'twas only in a dream)
Strains—which, as sage antiquity believed,
By waking ears have sometimes been received
Wafted adown the wind from lake or stream;
A most melodious requiem,—a supreme
And perfect harmony of notes, achieved
Hy a fair swan on drowsy billows heaved,
O'er which her pinions shed a silver gleam.
For is she not the votary of Apollo?
And knows she not, singing as he inspires,
That bliss awaits her which the ungenial hollow
Of the dull earth partakes not, nor desires?
Mount, tuneful bird, and join the immortal quires!
She soared—and I awoke,—struggling in vain to follow.
If the whole weight of what we think and feci,
Save only far as thought and feeling blend
With action, were as nothing, patriot friend!
From thy remonstrance would be no appeal!
But to promote and fortiFy the weal
Of our own being, is her paramount end;
A truth which they alone shall comprehend
Who shun the mischief which they cannot heal.
Peace in these feverish times is sovereign bliss;
Here, with no thirst but what the stream can slake,
And startled only by the rustling brake,
Cool air I breathe; while the unincumbered mind,
Uy some weak aims at services assigned
To gentle natures, thanks not heaven amiss.
TO THE MEMORY OF RAISLEY CALVERT.
Calvert! it must not be unheard by them
Who may respect my name, that I to thee
Owed many years of early liberty.
This care was thine when sickness did condemn
Thy youth to hopeless wasting, root and stem:
That I, if frugal and severe, might stray
Where'er I liked; and finally array
My temples with the muse's diadem.
Hence, if in freedom I have loved the truth,
If fhere be aught of pure, or good, or great,
In my past verse: or shall be, in the lays
Of higher mood, which now I meditate—
It gladdens me, O worthy, short-lived 3011th!
To think how much of this will be thy praise.
Scorn not the sonnet; critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours;—with this key
Shakspeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound *,
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
Camiiens soothed with it an exile's grief;