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Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
From God, who is our home:
Upon the growing Boy,
He sees it in his joy;
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own; Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, And even with something of a Mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known, And that imperial palace whence he came.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes! See, at his feet, some little plan or chart, Some fragment from his dream of human life, Shaped by himself with newly-learned art;
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride The little Actor cons another part; Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage' With all the Persons, down to palsied Age, That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul's immensity; Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind, That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep, Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave, A Presence which is not to be put by; Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
0 joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive! The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction: not indeed For that which is most worthy to be blest; Delight and liberty, the simple creed Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest, With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
To perish never;
Nor Man nor Boy.
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Can in a moment travel thither,
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound!
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
Though nothing can bring back the hour
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
'With sacrifice before the rising morn
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired:
And from the infernal Gods, 'mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required:
Celestial pity I again implore ;—
Restore him to my sight—great Jove, restore 1'
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the Suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her countenance brightens—and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived ?—O joy!
Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
That calms all fear: 'Such grace hath crowned thy prayer,
Laodamia! that at Jove's command
Thy Husband walks the paths of upper air:
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;
Accept the gift, behold him face to face 1'