Page images

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 heay'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


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 everThou 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 wheel-
Some to the stars ascribe the inborn evil,
Some to the Gods, and others to the devil,

To live without a living soul

To feel the spirit daily pining,
Sinking beneath the base control

Of mindless chance, itself consigning
To the dull impulse of oppressive time,
To find the guilt without the power of crime.-

Such is the penance, and the meed

Of thoughts that, boasting to be free,
Spurning the dictates of a practic creed,

Are tangled with excess of liberty,
Making themselves sole arbiters of right,
Trampling on hallow'd use with proud delight.

Perchance they roam in Duty's sacred name,

Commission'd to erect the world anewAll worldly ties, all interests they disclaim,

Sworn votaries of the beautiful and true; But vainly deem their own device, in sooth, The very substance of eternal truth.

Their duty still is Duty to deny,

To burst her bonds and cast her cords away: As some turn rebels for pure loyalty,

And some, to save the soul, the body slay: If any law they own, that law decrees, That sovereign right is born of each man's phantasies,

'Twere woe to tell what lamentable wreck

Such dreams may bring upon the public weal, If once restraint be broken from the neck

Of such as grossly think, and fiercely feel, In whom the noble parts by Nature lent, Are sway'd and biass’d from their kindly bent.

Thralls of the world, to whom the world affords

No hope but only this—to toil for food, And eat that they may toil—vassals of lords

With slavish minds and tyrant wills endued, Whose only charity is selfish waste, Whose brightest honour ’tis, to sin with taste.

The master of a slave is never free,

But still himself the slave of sensual fear :Woe to mankind-for ever doom'd to be

The slaves of slaves. The only freeedom here Lives in the spirit that disowns the bands, And dares refuse imperious Fate's commands.

From age to age, beneath the base control

Of servile time, we drudge in sloth or toil ; If hope of freedom fire the indignant soul,

Then follows terror wild, and bloody spoilMad Revolution, like a headlong flood, O’erwhelms alike the evil and the good.

« PreviousContinue »