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Then came a restless state, 'twixt
His faith was fix'd, his heart all ebb and flow;
Or like a bark, in some half-shelter'd bay,
Above its anchor driving to and fro.
That boon, which but to have possest
In a belief, gave life a zest-
Uncertain both what it had been,
And if by error lost, or luck;
And what it was ;-an evergreen
Which some insidious blight had struck,
Or annual flower, which, past its blow,
No vernal spell shall e'er revive ;
Uncertain, and afraid to know,
Doubts toss'd him to and fro;
Hope keeping Love, Love Hope alive,
Like babes bewilder'd in the snow,
That cling and huddle from the cold
In hollow tree or ruin'd fold.
Those sparkling colours, once his boast,
Fading one by one away, Thin and hueless as a ghost,
Poor Fancy on her sick-bed lay; Ill at distance, worse when near, Telling her dreams to jealous Fear ! Where was it then, the sociable sprite That crown'd the Poet's cup and deck'd his dish ! Poor shadow cast from an unsteady wish, Itself a substance by no other right But that it intercepted Reason's light ;
It dimm'd his eye, it darken'd on his brow,
A peevish mood, a tedious time, I trow!
Thank Heaven ! 'tis not so now.
O bliss of blissful hours !
The boon of Heaven's decreeing,
While yet in Eden's bowers
Dwelt the first husband and his sinless mate !
The one sweet plant, which, piteous Heaven
They bore with them thro' Eden's closing gate!
Of life's gay summer tide the sovran rose !
Late autumn's amaranth, that more fragrant blows
When passion's flowers all fall or fade;
If this were ever his, in outward being,
Or but his own true love's projected shade,
Now that at length by certain proof he knows,
That whether real or a magic show,
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so;
Though heart be lonesome, hope laid low,
Yet, Lady! deem him not unblest :
The certainty that struck hope dead,
Hath left contentment in her stead :
And that is next to best !
THE GARDEN OF BOCCACCIO.*
F late, in one of those most weary hours,
When life seems emptied of all genial powers,
* Printed in The Keepsake, Lond., 1829, to accompany a drawing by Stothard.—Ed.
A dreary mood, which he who ne'er has known
May bless his happy lot, I sate alone;
And from the numbing spell to win relief,
Call’d on the past for thought of glee or grief.
In vain ! bereft alike of grief and glee,
I sate and cower'd o'er my own vacancy
And as I watch'd the dull continuous ache,
Which, all else slumbering, seem'd alone to wake;
O Friend ! long wont to notice yet conceal,
And soothe by silence what words cannot heal,
I but half saw that quiet hand of thine
Place on my desk this exquisite design.
Boccaccio's Garden and its faery,
The love, the joyaunce, and the gallantry!
An Idyll, with Boccaccio's spirit warm,
Framed in the silent poesy of form.
Like flocks adown a newly-bathed steep
Emerging from a mist; or like a stream
Of music soft that not dispels the sleep,
But casts in happier moulds the slumberer's dream,
Gazed by an idle eye with silent might
The picture stole upon my inward sight.
A tremulous warmth crept gradual o'er my chest,
As though an infant's finger touch'd my breast.
And one by one (I know not whence) were brought
All spirits of power that most had stirr'd my
In selfless boyhood, on a new world tost [thought
Of wonder, and in its own fancies lost;
Or charm'd my youth, that, kindled from above,
Loved ere it loved, and sought a form for love;
Or lent a lustre to the earnest scan
Of manhood, musing what and whence is man!
Wild strain of Scalds, that in the sea-worn caves
Rehearsed their war-spell to the winds and waves;
Or fateful hymn of those prophetic maids,
That call'd on Hertha in deep forest glades;
Or minstrel lay, that cheer'd the baron's feast;
Or rhyme of city pomp, of monk and priest,
Judge, mayor, and many a guild in long array,
To high-church pacing on the great saint's day.
And many a verse which to myself I sang,
That woke the tear yet stole away the pang,
Of hopes which in lamenting I renew'd.
And last, a matron now, of sober mien,
Yet radiant still and with no earthly sheen,
Whom as a faery child my childhood woo'd
Even in my dawn of thought-Philosophy;
Though then unconscious of herself, pardie,
She bore no other name than Poesy;
And, like a gift from heaven, in lifeful glee,
That had but newly left a mother's knee,
Prattled and play'd with bird and flower, and stone,
As if with elfin playfellows well known,
And life reveal'd to innocence alone.
Thanks, gentle artist ! now I can descry
Thy fair creation with a mastering eye,
And all awake! And now in fix'd gaze stand,
Now wander through the Eden of thy hand;
Praise the green arches, on the fountain clear
See fragment shadows of the crossing deer;
And with that serviceable nymph I stoop
The crystal from its restless pool to scoop.
I see no longer! I myself am there,
Sit on the ground-sward, and the banquet share.
'Tis I, that sweep that lute's love-echoing strings,
And gaze upon the maid who gazing sings;
Or pause and listen to the tinkling bells
From the high tower, and think that there she dwells.
With old Boccaccio's soul I stand possesst,
And breathe an air like life, that swells my
The brightness of the world, O thou once free,
And always fair, rare land of courtesy !
O Florence ! with the Tuscan fields and hills
And famous Arno, fed with all their rills;
Thou brightest star of star-bright Italy !
Rich, ornate, populous, all treasures thine,
The golden corn, the olive, and the vine.
Fair cities, gallant mansions, castles old,
And forests, where beside his leafy hold
The sullen boar hath heard the distant horn,
And whets his tủsks against the gnarled thorn ;
Palladian palace with its storied halls;
Fountains, where Love lies listening to their falls;
Gardens, where flings the bridge its airy span,
And Nature makes her happy home with man;
Where many a gorgeous flower is duly fed
With its own rill, on its own spangled bed,
And wreathes the marble urn, or leans its head,
A mimic mourner, that with veil withdrawn
Weeps liquid gems, the presents of the dawn ;-
Thine all delights, and every muse is thine ;
And more than all, the embrace and intertwine
Of all with all in gay and twinkling dance !