« PreviousContinue »
gence, has so much plain and familiar freedom, that we read no poetry with a deeper conviction of its sentiments having come from the author's heart; and of the enthusiasm, in whatever he describes, having been unfeigned and unexaggerated.”—Campbell.
LINES ON THE RECEIPT OF HIS MOTHER'S PICTURE
My mother! when I learned that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?
Perhaps thou gavest me, though unseen, a kiss ;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss
Ah, that maternal smile! it answers Yes.
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nursery window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu !
But was it such? It was. Where thou art gone,
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.
May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore,
The parting sound shall pass my lips no more!
Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of a quick return:
What ardently I wished I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived;
By disappointment every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learned at last submission to my lot,
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers,
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
I pricked them into paper with a pin
(And thou wast happier than myself the while,
Would softly speak, and stroke my head and smile),
Could those few pleasant hours again appear,
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here?
I would not trust my heart— the dear delight
Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might.
But no - what here we call our life is such
So listle to be loved, and thou so much,
That I should ill requite thee to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albiou’s coast (The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed), Shoots into port at some well-havened isle, Where spices breathe and brighter seasons smile, There sits quiescent on the floods, that show Her beauteous form reflected clear below, While airs impregnated with incense play Around her, fanning light her streamers gay; So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the shore •Where tempests never beat nor billows roar;' And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide Of life, long since, has anchored at thy side. But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Always from port withheld, always distressed — Me howling winds drive devious, tempest-tossed, Sails ript, seams opening wide, and compass lost;
And day by day some current's thwarting force
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course.
But oh the thought, that thou art safe, and he !
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me.
My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned, and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise
The son of parents passed into the skies.
WINTER EVENING IN THE COUNTRY.
Hark! 't is the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge, That with its wearisome but needful length Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright; He comes, the herald of a noisy world, With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks News from all nations lumbering at his back. True to his charge, the close-packed load behind, Yet careless what he brings, his one concern Is to conduct it to the destined inn; And having dropped the expected bag, pass on. He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch ! Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some; To him indifferent whether grief or joy. Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks, Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But O the important budget! ushered in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings ? have our troops awaked ?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave ?
Is India free ? and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh - I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprisoned wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening who, with shining face,
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed
And bored with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the brcath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,
Qr placemen, all tranquillity and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not even critics criticize; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ?
'Tis pleasant through the loop-holes of retreat
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
O Winter! ruler of the inverted year,
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening, know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powdered pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm assaults the doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake:
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flower,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom: buds, and leaves, and sprigs,