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A long and melancholy mew,
Saluting his poetic ears,
Consoled him and dispell'd his fears;
He left his bed, he trod the floor,
He ‘gan in haste the draw’rs explore,
The lowest first, and without stop
The rest in order to the top.
For 'tis a truth well-known to most,
That whatsoever thing is lost,
We seek it, ere it come to light,
In ev'ry cranny but the right.
Forth skipp'd the cat, not now replete
As erst with airy self-conceit,
Nor in her own fond apprehension
A theme for all the world's attention ;
But modest, sober, cur'd of all
Her notions hyperbolical,
And wishing for a place of rest
Anything rather than a chest.
Then stepp'd the poet into bed
With this reflection in his head.
URVIVOR sole, and hardly such, of all
That once liv'd here, thy brethren, at my
(Since which I number threescore winters past),
A shatter'd vet'ran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,
Relics of ages 1 could a mind, imbued
With truth from Heaven, created thing adore,
I might with reverence kneel, and worship thee.
It seems idolatry with some excuse, When our forefather Druids in their oaks Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet Unpurified by an authentic act Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine, Lov'd not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste Of fruit proscribed, as to a refuge, fled. By thee I might correct, erroneous oft, The clock of history, facts and events Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts Recov'ring, and misstated o right— Desp'rate attempt, till trees shall speak again Time made thee what thou wast, king of the woods; And Time hath made thee what thou art—a cave For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs O'erhung the champaign; and the num'rous flocks That grazed it, stood beneath that ample cope Uncrowded, yet safe-shelter'd from the storm. No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outlived Thy popularity, and art become (Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth. hile thus through all the stages thou hast push'd Of treeship—first a seedling, hid in grass: Then twig; then sapling; and, as cent'ry roll'd Slow after century, a giant bulk Of girth enormous, with moss-cushion'd root Upheaved above the soil, and sides emboss'd With prominent wens globose—till at the last The rottenness, which time is charged to inflict On other mighty ones, found also thee, What exhibitious various hath the world Witness'd of mutability in all That we account most durable below 1
Change is the diet on which we subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last
Destroys them. Skies uncertain now the heat
Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds—
Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought,
Invigorate by turns the springs of life
In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads,
Fine passing thought e'en in her coarsest works,
Delight in agitation, yet sustain,
The force that agitates, not unimpair'd ;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still
The great and little of thy lot, thy growth
From almost nullity into a state
Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence,
Slow, into such magnificent decay.
Time was, when, settling on thy leaf, a fly
Could shake thee to thy root—and time has been
When tempests could not. At thy firmest age
Thou hadst within thy bole solid contents,
Thoot have ribb'd the sides and plank'd the
Of some flagg'd admiral; and tortuous arms,
The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present
To the four-quarter'd winds, robust and bold,
Warp'd into tough knee-timber, many a load
But the axe spared thee. In those thriftier days
Oaks fell not, hewn by thousands to supply
The bottomless demands of contest, waged
For senatorial honours. Thus to time
The task was left to whittle thee away
With his sly scythe, whose ever nibbling edge,
Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more,
Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserved,
Achieved a labour, which had far and wide,
By man perform’d, made all the forest ring.
Embowell'd now, and of thy ancient self
Possessing naught but the scoop'd rind, that seem'd
A huge throat calling to the clouds for drink,
Which it would give in rivulets to thy root,
Thou temptest none, but rather much forbidd'st
The feller's toil, which thou could'st ill requite.
Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock,
A quarry of stout spurs, and knotted fangs,
Which, crook'd into a thousand whimsies, clasp
The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.
So stands a kingdom whose foundation yet
Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid.
Though all the superstructure, by the tooth
Pulverised of venality, a shell
Stands now, and semblance only of itself I
Thine arms have left thee. Winds have rent
Long since, the rovers of the forest wild, [left
With bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have
A splinter'd stump, bleach'd to a snowy white;
And some, memorial none where once they grew.
But life still lingers in thee, and puts forth
Proof not contemptible of what she can,
Even where death predominates. The spring
Finds thee not less alive to her sweet force,
Than yonder upstarts of the neighb'ring wood,
So much thy juniors, who their birth received
Half a millennium since the date of thine.
But since, although well qualified by age
To teach, no spirit dwells in thee, nor voice
May be expected from thee, seated here
On thy distorted root, with hearers none,
Or prompter, save the scene, I will perform
Myself the oracle, and will discourse
In my own ear such matter as I may, ,
One man alone, the father of us all,
Drew not his life from woman; never gazed,
With mute unconsciousness of what he saw,
On all around him ; learn’d not by degrees,
Nor owed articulation to his ear;
But, moulded by his Maker into man,
At once upstood intelligent, survey'd
All creatures, with precision understood
Their purport, uses, properties, assign'd
To each his name significant, and, fill'd
With love and wisdom, render'd back to Heav'n
In praise harmonious the first air he drew.
He was excused the penalties of dull
Minority. No tutor charged his hand
With the thought-tracing quill, or tasked his mind
With problems. History, not wanted yet,
Lean'd on her elbow watching Time, whose course,
Eventful, should supply her with a theme.
ON A PLANT OF VIRGIN'S-BOWER,
DESIGNED TO COWER A GARDEN-SEAT.
HRIVE, gentle plant 1 and weave a bow'r
For Mary and for me,
And deck with many a splendid flow'r
Thy foliage large and free.
Thou cam'st from Eartham, and wilt shade
(If truly I divine)