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TO A REDBREAST.
Steange visitation? at Jemimas lip
Thus hadst thou pecked, wild redbreast! Love might say,
A half-blown rose had tempted thee to sip
Its glistening dews; but hallowed is the clay
Which the muse warms; and I, whose head is gray,
Am not unworthy of thy fellowship;
Nor could I let one thought—one motion-—slip
That might thy sylvan confidence betray.
For are we not all his, without whose care
Vouchsafed, no sparrow falleth to the ground?
Who gives his angels wings to speed through air,
And rolls the planets through the blue profound;
Then peck or perch, fond flutterer! nor forbear
To trust a poet in still vision bound.
Whilk they, her playmates once, light-hearted trend The mountain turf and river's flowery marge;
Or float with music in the festal barge;
Rein the proud steed, or through the dance are led:
Is Anna doomed to press a weary bed—'
Till oft her guardian angel, to some charge
More urgent called, will stretch his wings at large.
And friends too rarely prop the languid head.
Yet genius is no feeble comforter:
The presence even of a stuffed owl for her
Can cheat the time; sending her fancy out
To ivied castles and to moonlight skies,
Though he can neither stir a plume, nor shout,
Nor veil, with restless film, his staring eyes.
TO THE CUCKOO. ?$ot the whole warbling grove in concert heard When sunshine follpws shower, the breast can thrill Like the first summons, cuckoo, of thy bill, With its twin notes inseparably paired. The captive, mid damp vaults unsunned, unaired, Measuring the periods of his lonely doom, That cry can reach; and to the sick man's room Sends gladness, by no languid smile declared. The lordly eagle-race through hostile search May perish; time may come when never more The wilderness shall hear the lion roar; But long as cock shall crow from household perch To rouse the dawn, soft gales shall speed thy wins, And thy erratic voice be faithful to the spring!
THE INFANT M M .
Unquiet childhood here by special grace
And nought untunes that infant's voice; a trace
Of fretful temper sullies not her cheek;
Prompt, lively, self-sufficing, yet so meek
That one enrapt with gazing on her face,
Which even the placid innocence of death
Could scarcely make more placid, heaven more bright,
Might learn to picture, for the eye of faith,
The Virgin, as she shone with kindred light \
A nursling couched upon her mother's knee,
Beneath some shady palm of Galilee,
TO ROTHA Q--—. Rotha, my spiritual child! this head was gray When at the sacred font for thee I stood; Pledged till thou reach the verge of womanhood, And shalt become thy own sufficient stay: Too late, I feel, sweet orphan! was the day For steadfast hope the contract to fulfil: Yet shall my blessing hover o'er thee still, Embodied in the music of this lay, Breathed forth beside the peaceful mountain stream Whose murmur soothed thy languid mother's ear After her throes, this stream of name more dear Since thou dost bear it—a memorial theme For others; for thy future self a spell To summon fancies out of time's dark cell.
Such age how beautiful! O lady bright,
Whose mortal lineaments seem all refined
By favouring nature and a saintly mind
To something purer and more exquisite
Than flesh and blood; whene'er thou meet'st my sight,
When 1 behold thy blanched unwithered cheek,
Thy temples fringed with locks of gleaming white,
THE BUILDER VIRTUES.
If these brief records, by the Muses' art
Cleaves the blank air, life flies: now every day
Is but a glimmering spoke in the swift wheel
Of the revolving week. Away, away,
All fitful cares, all transitory -zeal;
So timely grace the immortal wing may heal,
And honour rest upon the senseless clay.
From low to high doth dissolution climb,
And sinks from high to low, along a scale
Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail
A musical but melancholy chime,
Which they can hear who meddle not with crime,
Nor avarice, nor over-anxious care.
Truth fails not; but her outward forms that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more; drop like the tower sublime
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
Its crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of time.
"Man's life is like a sparrow,* mighty king!
• See the original of this speech in Bede.