Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

These things are, doubtless: yet in truth we've had The end and aim of Poesy. "Tis clear

Strange thunders from the potency of song;

Mingled indeed with what is sweet and strong,
From majesty but in clear truth the themes
Are ugly cubs, the Poets' Polyphemes
Disturbing the grand sea. A drainless shower
Of light is poesy; 'tis the supreme of power;
"Tis might half-slumb'ring on its own right arm.
The very archings of her eyelids charm
A thousand willing agents to obey,
And still she governs with the mildest sway:
But strength alone though of the Muses born
Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,

Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs

And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
Of poesy, that it should be a friend

To soothe the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.

Yet I rejoice: a myrtle fairer than
E'er grew in Paphos, from the bitter weeds
Lifts its sweet head into the air, and feeds
A silent space with ever-sprouting green.
All tenderest birds there find a pleasant screen,
Creep through the shade with jaunty fluttering,
Nibble the little cupped flowers, and sing.
Then let us clear away the choking thorns
From round its gentle stem; let the young fawns,
Yeaned in after-times, when we are flown,
Find a fresh sward beneath it, overgrown
With simple flowers: let there nothing be
More boisterous than a lover's bended knee;
Naught more ungentle than the placid look
Of one who leans upon a closed book;
Naught more untranquil than the grassy slopes
Between two hills. All hail, delightful hopes!
As she was wont, th' imagination
Into most lovely labyrinths will be gone,
And they shall be accounted poet kings
Who simply tell the most heart-easing things.
O may these joys be ripe before I die!

Will not some say that I presumptuously
Have spoken? that from hastening disgrace
"Twere better far to hide my foolish face?
That whining boyhood should with reverence bow
Ere the dread thunderbolt could reach? How!
If I do hide myself, it sure shall be
In the very fane, the light of Poesy:
If I do fall, at least I will be laid
Beneath the silence of a poplar shade;
And over me the grass shall be smooth shaven;
And there shall be a kind memorial graven.
But off, Despondence! miserable bane!
They should not know thee, who athirst to gain
A noble end, are thirsty every hour.
What though I am not wealthy in the dower
Of spanning wisdom; though I do not know
The shiftings of the mighty winds that blow
Hither and thither all the changing thoughts
Of man; though no great minist'ring reason sorts
Out the dark mysteries of human souls
To clear conceiving: yet there ever rolls
A vast idea before me, and I glean
Therefrom my liberty; thence too I've seen

As any thing most true; as that the year

Is made of the four seasons-manifest

As a large cross, some old cathedral's crest,
Lifted to the white clouds. Therefore should I
Be but the essence of deformity,

A coward, did my very eyelids wink

At speaking out what I have dared to think
Ah! rather let me like a madman run
Over some precipice; let the hot sun

Melt my Dedalian wings, and drive me down
Convulsed and headlong! Stay! an inward frown
Of conscience bids me be more calm awhile.
An ocean dim, sprinkled with many an isle,
Spreads awfully before me. How much toil!
How many days! what desperate turmoil!
Ere I can have explored its widenesses.
Ah, what a task! upon my bended knees,
I could unsay those-no, impossible

Impossible!

For sweet relief I'll dwell
On humbler thoughts, and let this strange essay
Begun in gentleness die so away.

E'en now all tumult from my bosom fades:
I turn full-hearted to the friendly aids
That smooth the path of honor; brotherhood,
And friendliness, the nurse of mutual good.
The hearty grasp that sends a pleasant sonnet
Into the brain ere one can think upon it;
The silence when some rhymes are coming out;
And when they're come, the very pleasant rout.
The message certain to be done to-morrow.
"Tis perhaps as well that it should be to borrow
Some precious book from out its snug retreat,
To cluster round it when we next shall meet.
Scarce can I scribble on; for lovely airs
Are fluttering round the room like doves in pairs;
Many delights of that glad day recalling,
When first my senses caught their tender falling.
And with these airs come forms of elegance
Stooping their shoulders o'er a horse's prance,
Careless, and grand-fingers soft and round
Parting luxuriant curls;-and the swift bound
Of Bacchus from his chariot, when his eye
Made Ariadne's cheek look blushingly.
Thus I remember all the pleasant flow
Of words at opening a portfolio.

Things such as these are ever harbingers
To trains of peaceful images: the stirs
Of a swan's neck unseen among the rushes.
A linnet starting all about the bushes:
A butterfly, with golden wings broad-parted,
Nestling a rose, convulsed as though it smarted
With over-pleasure-many, many more,
Might I indulge at large in all my store
Of luxuries: yet I must not forget
Sleep, quiet with his poppy coronet :
For what there may be worthy in these rhymes
I partly owe to him: and thus, the chimes
Of friendly voices had just given place
To as sweet a silence, when I'gan retrace
The pleasant day, upon a couch at ease.
It was a poet's house who keeps the keys

Of pleasure's temple.-Round about were hung
The glorious features of the bards who sung
In other ages-cold and sacred busts
Smiled at each other. Happy he who trusts
To clear Futurity his darling fame!
Then there were fauns and satyrs taking aim
At swelling apples with a frisky leap,
And reaching fingers 'mid a luscious heap

Of vine-leaves. Then there rose to view a fane
Of liney marble, and thereto a train

Of nymphs approaching fairly o'er the sward:
One, loveliest, holding her white hand toward
The dazzling sunrise: two sisters sweet
Bending their graceful figures till they meet
Over the trippings of a little child:
And some are hearing, eagerly, the wild
Thrilling liquidity of dewy piping.
See, in another picture, nymphs are wiping
Cherishingly Diana's timorous limbs ;-
A fold of lawny mantle dabbling swims
At the bath's edge, and keeps a gentle motion
With the subsiding crystal: as when ocean
Heaves calmly its broad swelling smoothness o'er
Its rocky marge, and balances once more
The patient weeds; that now unshent by foam,
Feel all about their undulating home.
Sappho's meek head was there half smiling down
At nothing; just as though the earnest frown
Of over-thinking had that moment gone
From off her brow, and left her all alone.

Great Alfred's too, with anxious, pitying eyes,
As if he always listen'd to the sighs
Of the goaded world; and Kosciusko's, worn
By horrid sufferance-mightily forlorn.

Petrarch, out-stepping from the shady green,
Starts at the sight of Laura; nor can wean
His eyes from her sweet face. Most happy they!
For over them was seen a free display

Of outspread wings, and from between them shone
The face of Poesy: from off her throne
She overlook'd things that I scarce could tell,
The very sense of where I was might well
Keep Sleep aloof: but more than that there came
Thought after thought to nourish up the flame
Within my breast; so that the morning light
Surprised me even from a sleepless night;
And up I rose refresh'd, and glad, and gay,
Resolving to begin that very day
These lines; and howsoever they be done,
I leave them as a father does his son.

SONNETS.

TO MY BROTHER GEORGE.

MANY the wonders I this day have seen:

The sun, when first he kist away the tears That fill'd the eyes of Morn;-the laurell'd peers Who from the feathery gold of evening lean;The Ocean with its vastness, its blue green,

Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears Must think on what will be, and what has been.

E'en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,

And she her half-discover'd revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

ΤΟ

HAD I a man's fair form, then might my sighs
Be echoed swiftly through that ivory shell
Thine ear, and find thy gentle heart; so well
Would passion arm me for the enterprise :
But ah! I am no knight whose foeman dies;
No cuirass glistens on my bosom's swell;
I am no happy shepherd of the dell
Whose lips have trembled with a maiden's eyes.
Yet must I dote upon thee,-call thee sweet,
Sweeter by far than Hybla's honey'd roses
When steep'd in dew rich to intoxication.
Ah! I will taste that dew, for me 'tis meet,
And when the moon her pallid face discloses,
I'll gather some by spells, and incantation.

WRITTEN ON THE DAY THAT MR. LEIGH HUNT LEFT
PRISON.

WHAT though, for showing truth to flatter'd state,
Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he
In his immortal spirit, been as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
Think you he naught but prison-walls did see,
Till, so unwilling, thou unturn'dst the key?
Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
In Spenser's halls he stray'd, and bowers fair,
Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
With daring Milton through the fields of air:
To regions of his own, his genius true
Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?

How many bards gild the lapses of time!

A few of them have ever been the food Of my delighted fancy.-I could brood Over their beauties, earthly, or sublime : And often, when I sit me down to rhyme,

These will in throngs before my mind intrude:
But no confusion, no disturbance rude

Do they occasion; 'tis a pleasing chime.
So the unnumber'd sounds that evening store;

The songs of birds-the whisp'ring of the leaves-
The voice of waters-the great bell that heaves
With solemn sound, and thousand others more,
That distance of recognizance bereaves,
Make pleasing music, and not wild uproar.

TO A FRIEND WHO SENT ME SOME ROSES.

As late I rambled in the happy fields,

What time the skylark shakes the tremulous dew From his lush clover covert-when anew Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields:

I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,

A fresh-blown musk-rose; 't was the first that threw
Its sweets upon the summer: graceful it grew
As is the wand that queen Titania wields.
And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,

I thought the garden-rose it far excell'd;
But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me,

My sense with their deliciousness was spell'd: Soft voices had they, that with tender plea Whisper'd of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquell'd.

TO G. A. W.

NYMPH of the downward smile, and sidelong glance!
In what diviner moments of the day

Art thou most lovely? when gone far astray
Into the labyrinths of sweet utterance?
Or when serenely wand'ring in a trance

Of sober thought? Or when starting away,
With careless robe to meet the morning ray,
Thou sparest the flowers in thy mazy dance?
Haply 'tis when thy ruby lips part sweetly,

And so remain, because thou listenest:
But thou to please wert nurtured so completely
That I can never tell what mood is best.

KEEN fitful gusts are whispering here and there
Among the bushes, half leafless and dry;
The stars look very cold about the sky,
And I have many miles on foot to fare.
Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,

Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,
Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,
Or of the distance from home's pleasant lair:
For I am brimful of the friendliness

That in a little cottage I have found;
Of fair-hair'd Milton's eloquent distress,
And all his love for gentle Lycid' drown'd;
Of lovely Laura in her light-green dress,
And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown'd.

To one who has been long in city pent,
"Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel,—an eye

I shall as soon pronounce which Grace more neatly Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,

Trips it before Apollo than the rest.

He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.

O SOLITUDE! if I must with thee dwell,

Let it not be among the jumbled heap

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S HOMER

Of murky buildings: climb with me the steep,MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,

Nature's observatory-whence the dell,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been

Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavilion'd, where the deer's swift Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

leap,

Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.

But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,

Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refined,

Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific-and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

TO MY BROTHERS.

SMALL, busy flames play through the fresh-laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o'er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o'er fraternal souls.

And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fix'd, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day, Tom, and I rejoice

That thus it passes smoothly, quietly,
Many such eves of gently whisp'ring noise
May we together pass, and calmly try

ON LEAVING SOME FRIENDS AT AN EARLY HOUR

GIVE me a golden pen, and let me lean

On heap'd-up flowers, in regions clear, and far,
Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
Or hand of hymning angel, when 't is seen
The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:

And let there glide by many a pearly car,
Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
And half-discover'd wings, and glances keen.
The while let music wander round my ears,
And as it reaches each delicious ending,
Let me write down a line of glorious tone,

What are this world's true joys,-ere the great Voice, And full of many wonders of the spheres:

From its fair face shall bid our spirits fly.

November 18, 1816.

For what a height my spirit is contending! "Tis not content so soon to be alone.

« ForrigeFortsæt »