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Restless forms of living light
Quivering on your lucid wings,
Cheating still the curious sight
With a thousand shadowings ;-
Various as the tints of even,
Gorgeous as the hues of heaven,
Reflected on your native streams
In flitting, flashing, billowy gleams !
Harmless warriors, clad in mail
Of silver breastplate, golden scale ;-
Mail of Nature's own bestowing,
With peaceful radiance mildly glowing,
Fleet are ye, as fleetest galley
Or pirate rover sent from Sallee;
Keener than the Tartar's arrow,
Sport ye in your sea so narrow.
Was the sun himself your sire?
Were ye born of vital fire ?
Or of the shade of golden flowers,
Such as we fetch from eastern bowers,
To mock this murky clime of ours?
Upwards, downwards, now ye glance,
Weaving many a mazy dance;
Seeming still to grow in size
When ye would elude our eyes-
Pretty creatures ! we might deem
Ye were happy as ye seem,-
As gay, as gamesome, and as blithe,
As light, as loving, and as lithe,
As gladly earnest in your play,
As when ye gleam'd in far Cathay;
And yet, since on this hapless earth
There's small sincerity in mirth,
And laughter oft is but an art
To drown the outcry of the heart;
It may be, that your ceaseless gambols,
Your wheelings, dartings, divings, rambles,
Your restless roving round and round
The circuit of your chrystal bound,
Is but the task of weary pain,
An endless labour, dull and vain;
And while your forms are gaily shining,
Your little lives are inly pining !
Nay-but still I fain would dream
That ye are happy as ye seem,
Deck’d in Oriental pride,
By homely British fire-side.
I've heard the merry voice of spring, When thousand birds their wild notes fling, Here and there, and every where, Stirring the young and lightsome air ;I've heard the many-sounding seas, And all their various harmonies The tumbling tempest's dismal roar, On the waste and wreck-strew'd shore The howl and the wail of the prison'd waves, Clamouring in the ancient caves, Like a stifled pain that asks for pity : And I have heard the sea at peace, When all its fearful noises cease, Lost in one soft and multitudinous ditty, Most like the murmur of a far off city :Nor less the blither notes I know, To which the inland waters flow,The rush of rocky-bedded rivers, That madly dash themselves to shivers ; But anon, more prudent growing, O’er countless pebbles smoothly flowing, With a dull continuous roar, Hie they onward, evermore:
To their everlasting tune,
When the sun is high at noon,
The little billows, quick and quicker,
Weave their mazes, thick and thicker,
And beneath in dazzling glances,
Labyrinthine lightning dances,
Snaky network intertwining,
With thousand molten colours shining:
Mosaic rich with living light,
With rainbow jewels gaily dight-
Such pavement never, well I ween,
Was made, by monarch or magician,
For Arab, or Egyptian queen;
gorgeous as a prophet's vision;
And I ken the brook, how sweet it tinkles,
As cross the moon-light green it twinkles,
Or heard, not seen, ʼmid tangled wood,
Where the soft stock-dove lulls her brood,
With her one note of all most dear-
More soothing to the heart than ear.
And well I know the smother'd moan,
Of that low breeze, so small and brief,
It seems a very sigh, whose tone,
Has much of love, but more of grief.
I know the sound of distant bells,
Their dying falls and lusty swells ;
That music which the wild gale seizes,
And fashions howsoe'er it pleases.
And I love the shrill November blast,
That through the brown wood hurries fast,
And strips its old limbs bare at last,
Then whirls the leaves in circling error,
As if instinct with life and terror-
Now bursting out enough to deafen,
The very thunder in the heaven;
Now sinking dolefully and dreary,
Weak as a child with sport a weary.
And after a long night of rain,
When the warm sun comes out again,
I've heard the myriad-voiced rills,
The many tongues, of many hills-
All gushing forth in new-born glory,
Striving each to tell its story-
Yet every little brook is known,
By a voice that is its own,
Each exulting in the glee,
Of its new prosperity.