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As years enlarged his form, in moody hours,
His mind betray'd its weakness with its powers;
Alike his fairest hopes and strangest fears
Were nursed in silence, or divulged with tears;
The fulness of his heart repress'd his tongue,
Though none might rival Javan when he sung.
He loved, in lonely indolence reclined,
To watch the clouds, and listen to the wind.
But from the north, when snow and tempest came,
His nobler spirit mounted into flame;
With stern delight he roam'd the howling woods,
Or hung in ecstacy o'er headlong floods.
Meanwhile excursive fancy long'd to view
The world, which yet by fame alone he knew;
The joys of freedom were his daily theme,
Glory the secret of his midnight dream;
That dream he told not; though his heart would ache,
His home was precious for his mother's sake.
With her the lowly paths of peace he ran,
His guardian angel, till he verged to man;
But when her weary eye could watch no more,
When to the grave her timeless corse he bore,
Not Enoch's counsels could his steps restrain;
He fled, and sojourn'd in the land of Cain.
There when he heard the voice of Jubal's lyre,
Instinctive Genius caught th' ethereal fire;
And soon, with sweetly-modulating skill,
He learn'd to wind the passions at his will,
To rule the chords with such mysterious art,
They seem'd the life-strings of the hearer's heart!
Then Glory's opening field he proudly trod,
Forsook the worship and the ways of God,
Round the vain world pursued the phantom Fame,
And cast away his birthright for a name.
Yet no delight the Minstrel's bosom knew,
None save the tones that from his harp he drew,
And the warm visions of a wayward mind,
Whose transient splendour left a gloom behind,
Frail as the clouds of sunset, and as fair,
Pageants of light, resolving into air.
The world, whose charms his young affections stole, He found too mean for an immortal soul;
Wound with his life, through all his feelings wrought,
Death and eternity possess'd his thought;
Remorse impell'd him, unremitting care
Harass'd his path, and stung him to despair.
Still was the secret of his griefs unknown,
Amidst the universe he sigh'd alone;
The fame he follow'd, and the fame he found,
Heal'd not his heart's immedicable wound;
Admired, applauded, crown'd, where'er he roved,
The Bard was homeless, friendless, unbeloved.
All else that breathed below the circling sky,
Were link'd to earth by some endearing tie;
He only, like the ocean weed uptorn,
And loose along the world of waters borne,
Was cast companionless, from wave to wave,
On life's rough sea-and there was none to save
From The World before the Flood.
Here Jubal paused; for grim before him lay,
Couch'd like a lion watching for his prey,
With blood-red eye of fascinating fire,
Fix'd, like the gazing serpent's, on the lyre,
An awful form, that through the gloom appear'd
Half brute, half human; whose terrific beard,
And hoary flakes of long dishevell'd hair,
Like eagle's plumage, ruffled by the air,
Veil'd a sad wreck of grandeur and of grace,
Limbs worn and wounded, a majestic face
Deep-plough'd by Time, and ghostly pale with woes,
That goaded till remorse to madness rose;
Haunted by phantoms, he had fled his home,
With savage beasts in solitude to roam;
Wild as the waves, and wandering as the wind,
No art could tame him, and no chains could bind :
Already seven disastrous years had shed
Mildew and blast on his unshelter'd head;
His brain was smitten by the sun at noon,
His heart was wither'd by the cold night moon.
'Twas Cain, the sire of nations:-Jubal knew His kindred looks, and tremblingly withdrew;
He, darting like the blaze of sudden fire,
Leap'd o'er the space between, and grasp'd the lyre:
Sooner with life the struggling bard would part,
And ere the fiend could tear it from his heart,
He hurl'd his hand with one tremendous stroke
O'er all the strings; whence in a whirlwind broke
Such tones of terror, dissonance, despair,
As till that hour had never jarr'd in air.
Astonish'd into marble at the shock,
Backward stood Cain, unconscious as a rock,
Cold, breathless, motionless through all his frame;
But soon his visage quicken'd into flame,
When Jubal's hand the crashing jargon changed
To melting harmony, and nimbly ranged
From chord to chord, ascending sweet and clear,
Then rolling down in thunder on the ear;
With power the pulse of anguish to restrain,
And charm the evil spirit from the brain.
Slowly recovering from that trance profound,
Bewilder'd, touch'd, transported with the sound,
Cain view'd himself, the bard, the earth, the sky,
While wonder flash'd and faded in his eye,
And reason, by alternate frenzy cross'd,
Now seem'd restored, and now for ever lost.
So shines the moon, by glimpses, through her shrouds,
When windy Darkness rides upon the clouds,
Till through the blue, serene, and silent night,
She reigns in full tranquillity of light.
Jubal, with eager hope, beheld the chase
Of strange emotions hurrying o'er his face,
And waked his noblest numbers to control
The tide and tempest of the maniac's soul:
Through many a maze of melody they flew,
They rose like incense, they distill'd like dew,
Pour'd through the sufferer's breast delicious balm,
And soothed remembrance till remorse grew calm,
Till Cain forsook the solitary wild,
Led by the minstrel like a weaned child.
Oh! had you seen him to his home restored,
How young and old ran forth to meet their lord;
How friends and kindred on his neck did fall,
Weeping aloud, while Cain outwept them all:
But hush!-thenceforward, when recoiling care
Lour'd on his brow, and sadden'd to despair,
The lyre of Jubal, with divinest art,
Repell❜d the demon, and revived his heart.
Thus Song, the breath of heaven, had power to bind
In chains of harmony the mightiest mind;
Thus Music's empire in the soul began,
The first-born Poet ruled the first-born Man.
From The World before the Flood.
IMITATED FROM THE ITALIAN OF CRESCEMBINI.
I ask'd the Heavens-" What foe to God hath done
This unexampled deed?"-The Heavens exclaim,
""Twas Man;-and we in horror snatch'd the sun
From such a spectacle of guilt and shame."
I ask'd the Sea;-the Sea in fury boil'd,
And answer'd with his voice of storms-" "Twas Man;
My waves in panic at his crime recoil'd,
Disclosed th' abyss, and from the centre ran."
I ask'd the Earth;-the Earth replied aghast,
""Twas Man;-and such strange pangs my bosom rent,
That still I groan and shudder at the past.'
-To Man, gay, smiling, thoughtless Man, I went,
And ask'd him next :-He turn'd a scornful eye,
Shook his proud head, and deign'd me no reply.
Where the roving rill meander'd
Down the green retiring vale,
Poor, forlorn Alcæus wander'd,
Pale with thought, serenely pale:
Timeless sorrow o'er his face
Breathed a melancholy grace,
And fix'd on every feature there
The mournful resignation of despair.
O'er his arm, his lyre neglected,
Once his dear companion, hung,
And in spirit deep dejected,
Thus the pensive poet sung:
While, at midnight's solemn noon, Sweetly shone the cloudless moon, And all the stars, around his head, Benignly bright, their mildest influence shed:
"Lyre! O Lyre! my chosen treasure,
Solace of my bleeding heart;
Lyre! O Lyre! my only pleasure,
We must now for ever part:
For in vain thy poet sings,
Woos in vain thine heavenly strings;
The Muse's wretched sons are born
To cold neglect, and penury, and scorn.
"That which Alexander sigh'd for, That which Cæsar's soul possess'd, That which heroes, kings, have died for— Glory!-animates my breast: Hark! the charging trumpets' throats Pour their death-defying notes; 'To arms!' they call: to arms I fly,
Like Wolfe to conquer, and like Wolfe to die.
"Soft!-the blood of murder'd legions
Summons vengeance from the skies;
Flaming towns and ravaged regions,
All in awful judgment rise.-
O then, innocently brave,
I will wrestle with the wave;
Lo! Commerce spreads the daring sail,
And yokes her naval chariots to the gale.
"Blow, ye breezes!-gently blowing,
Waft me to that happy shore,
Where from fountains ever flowing
Indian realms their treasures pour:
Thence returning, poor in health,
Rich in honesty and wealth,
O'er thee, my dear paternal soil,
I'll strew the golden harvest of my toil.
"Then shall Misery's sons and daughters
In their lowly dwellings sing;
Bounteous as the Nile's dark waters,
Undiscover'd as the spring,
I will scatter o'er the land
Blessings with a secret hand..