Page images
PDF
EPUB

Or survey their bright dominions
In the gorgeous colours drest
Flung from off the purple pinions,
Evening spreads throughout the west!

Thine are all the coral fountains
Warbling in each sparry vault
Of the untrodden lunar mountains;
Listen to their songs!—or halt,

To Niphates' top invited,
Whither spiteful Satan steered;
Or descend where the ark alighted,
When the green earth re-appeared;

For the power of hills is on thee,
As was witnessed through thine eye
Then when old Helvellyn won thee
To confess their majesty!

(1816.)

Evening Voluntary. [Composed upon an Evening of extraordinary Splendour and Beauty.]

i.

Had this effulgence disappeared
With flying haste, I might have sent,
Among the speechless clouds, a look
Of blank astonishment;
But 'tis endued with power to stay,
And sanctify one closing day,
That frail Mortality may see—
What is ?—ah no, but what can be!
Time was when field and watery cove
With modulated echoes rang,
While choirs of fervent Angels sang
Their vespers in the grove;

Or, crowning, star-like, each some sovereign height,
Warbled, for heaven above and earth below.
Strains suitable to both.—Such holy rite,
Methinks, if audibly repeated now
From hill or valley, could not move
Sublimer transport, purer love,
Than doth this silent spectacle—the gleam—
The shadow—and the peace supreme!

2.

No sound is uttered,—but a deep

And solemn harmony pervades

The hollow vale from steep to steep,

And penetrates the glades.

Far-distant images draw nigh,

Called forth by wondrous potency

Of beamy radiance, that imbues

Whate'er it strikes with gem-like hues!

In vision exquisitely clear,

Herds range along the mountain side;

And glistening antlers are descried;

And gilded flocks appear.

Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve!

But long as god-like wish, or hope divine,

Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe

That this magnificence is wholly thine!

—From worlds not quickened by the sun

A portion of the gift is won;

An intermingling of Heaven's pomp is spread

On ground which British shepherds tread!

3

And, if there be whom broken ties
Afflict, or injuries assail,
Yon hazy ridges to their eyes
Present a glorious scale,
Climbing suffused with sunny air,
To stop—no record hath told where!

And tempting Fancy to ascend,

And with immortal Spirits blend!

—Wings at my shoulders seem to play;

But, rooted here, I stand and gaze

On those bright steps that heaven-ward raise

Their practicable way.

Come forth, ye drooping old men, look abroad,

And see to what fair countries ye are bound!

And if some traveller, weary of his road,

Hath slept since noon-tide on the grassy ground,

Ye Genii! to his covert speed;

And wake him with such gentle heed

As may attune his soul to meet the dower

Bestowed on this transcendent hour 1

4

Such hues from their celestial Urn

Were wont to stream before mine eye,

Where'er it wandered in the morn

Of blissful infancy.

This glimpse of glory, why renewed?

Nay, rather speak with gratitude;

For, if a vestige of those gleams

Survived, 'twas only in my dreams.

Dread Power! whom peace and calmness serve

No less than Nature's threatening voice,

If aught unworthy be my choice,

From THEE if I would swerve;

Oh, let thy grace remind me of the light

Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored;

Which, at this moment, on my waking sight

Appears to shine, by miracle restored;

My soul, though yet confined to earth,

Rejoices in a second birth!

—'Tis past, the visionary splendour fades;

And night approaches with her shades.

(1818.) [From the Prelude. 1799-1805.]

[apparition On The Lake.]

Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society. How strange that all
The terrors, pains, and early miseries,
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes interfused
Within my mind, should e'er have borne a part,
And that a needful part, in making up
The calm existence that is mine when I
Am worthy of myself! Praise to the end!
Thanks to the means which Nature deigned to employ;
Whether her fearless visitings, or those
That came with soft alarm, like hurtless light
Opening the peaceful clouds; or she may use
Severer interventions, ministry
More palpable, as best might suit her aim.

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cave, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view

Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,

The horizon's utmost boundary; far above

Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.

She was an elfin pinnace; lustily

I dipped my oars into the silent lake,

And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat

Went heaving through the water like a swan;

When, from behind that craggy steep till then

The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,

As if with voluntary power instinct

Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,

And growing still in stature the grim shape

Towered up between me and the stars, and still,

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own

And measured motion like a living thing,

Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,

And through the silent water stole my way

Back to the covert of the willow tree;

There in her mooring-place I left my bark,—

And through the meadows homeward went, in grave

And serious mood; but after I had seen

That spectacle, for many days, my brain

Worked with a dim and undetermined sense

Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts

There hung a darkness, call it solitude

Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes

Remained, no pleasant images of trees,

Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;

But huge and mighty forms, that do not live

Like living men, moved slowly through the mind

By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

« PreviousContinue »