« ForrigeFortsæt »
insinuated itself into my Religious Musings with such intricacy of union, that sometimes I have omitted to disentangle the weed from the fear of snapping the flower. A third and heavier accusation has been brought against me, that of obscurity; but not, I think, with equal justice. An Author is obscure, when his conceptions are dim and imperfect, and his language incorrect, or unappropriate, or involved. A poem that abounds in allusions, like the Bard of Gray, or one that impersonates high and abstract truths, like Collins's Ode on the poetical character, claims not to be popular-but should be acquitted of obscurity. The deficiency is in the Reader. But this is a charge which every poet, whose imagination is warm and rapid, must expect from his contemporaries. Milton did not escape it; and it was adduced with virulence against Gray and Collins. We now hear no more of it not that their poems are better understood at present, than they were at their first publication; but their fame is established; and a critic would accuse himself of frigidity or inattention, who should profess not to understand them. But a living writer is yet sub judice; and if we cannot follow his conceptions or enter into his feelings, it is more consoling to our pride to consider him as lost beneath, than as soaring above us. If any man expect from my poems the same easiness of style which he admires in a drinking-song, for him I have
not written. Intelligibilia, non intellectum adfero.
I expect neither profit or general fame by my writings; and I consider myself as having been amply repaid without either. Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward:» it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude: and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the Good and the Beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me.
And now his cheeks with deeper ardors flame,
eyes have glorious meanings, that declare
More than the light of outward day shines there,
A holier triumph and a sterner aim!
Wings grow within him; and he soars above
Or Bard's, or Minstrel's lay of war or love.
Friend to the friendless, to the Sufferer health,
He hears the widow's prayer, the good man's praise;
To scenes of bliss transmutes his fancied wealth,
And young and old shall now see happy days.
On many a waste he bids trim gardens rise,
Gives the blue sky to many a prisoner's eyes;
And now in wrath he grasps the patriot steel,
And her own iron rod he makes Oppression feel.
Sweet Flower of Hope! free Nature's genial child!
That didst so fair disclose thy early bloom,
Filling the wide air with a rich perfume!
For thee in vain all heavenly aspects smiled;
From the hard world brief respite could they win-
The frost nipp'd sharp without, the canker prey'd within!
Ah! where are fled the charms of vernal Grace,
And Joy's wild gleams that lightened o'er thy face?
Youth of tumultuous soul, and haggard eye!
Thy wasted form, thy hurried steps I view,
On thy wan forehead starts the lethal dew,
And oh! the anguish of that shuddering sigh!
Such were the struggles of the gloomy hour,
When Care, of wither'd brow,
Prepared the poison's death-cold power:
Already to thy lips was raised the bowl,
When near thee stood Affection meek
(Ifer bosom bare, and wildly pale her cheek), Thy sullen gaze she bade thee roll
On scenes that well might melt thy soul;
Thy native cot she flash'd upon thy view,
Thy native cot, where still, at close of day,
Peace smiling sate, and listen'd to thy lay;
Thy Sister's shrieks she bade thee hear,
And mark thy Mother's thrilling tear;
See, see her breast's convulsive throe,
Ah! dash the poison'd chalice from thy hand!
1 Avon, a river near Bristol; the birth-place of Chatterton.
And thou hadst dash'd it, at her soft command,
But that Despair and Indignation rose,
And told again the story of thy woes;
Told the keen insult of the unfeeling heart;
The dread dependence on the low-born mind;
Told every pang, with which thy soul must smart,
Neglect, and grinning Scorn, and Want combined!
Recoiling quick, thou bad'st the friend of pain
Roll the black tide of Death through every freezing vein!
Ye woods! that wave o'er Avon's rocky steep,
To Fancy's ear sweet is your murmuring deep!
For here she loves the cypress wreath to weave
Watching, with wistful eye, the saddening tints of eve.
Here, far from men, amid this pathless grove,
In solemn thought the Minstrel wont to rove,
Like star-beam on the slow sequester'd tide
Lone-glittering, through the high tree branching wide.
And here, in Inspiration's eager hour,
When most the big soul feels the mastering power,
These wilds, these caverns roaming o'er,
Round which the screaming sea-gulls soar,
With wild unequal steps he pass'd along,
Oft pouring on the winds a broken song:
Anon, upon some rough rock's fearful brow
Would pause abrupt-and gaze upon the waves below.
Poor Chatterton! he sorrows for thy fate
Who would have praised and loved thee, ere too late.
Poor Chatterton! farewell! of darkest hues
This chaplet cast 1 on thy unshaped tomb;
But dare no longer on the sad theme muse,
Lest kindred woes persuade a kindred doom:
For oh! big gall-drops, shook from Folly's wing,
Have blacken'd the fair promise of my spring;
And the stern Fate transpierced with viewless dart
The last pale Hope that shiver'd at my heart!
Hence, gloomy thoughts! no more my soul shall dwell
On joys that were! No more endure to weigh
The shame and anguish of the evil day,
| Wisely forgetful! O'er the ocean swell
Sublime of Hope I seek the cottaged dell,
Where Virtue calm with careless step may stray;
And, dancing to the moon-light roundelay,
The wizard Passions weave a holy spell!
O Chatterton! that thou wert yet alive!
Sure thou wouldst spread the canvas to the gale,
And love, with us the tinkling team to drive
O'er peaceful Freedom's undivided dale;
And we, at sober eve, would round thee throng,
Hanging, enraptured, on thy stately song!
And greet with smiles the young-eyed Poesy
All deftly mask'd, as hoar Antiquity.
Alas vain Phantasies! the fleeting brood
Of Woe self-solaced in her dreamy mood!
Yet will I love to follow the sweet dream,
Where Susquehannah pours his untamed stream;
And on some hill, whose forest-frowning side
Waves o'er the murmurs of his calmer tide,
Will raise a solemn Cenotaph to thee,
Sweet Harper of time-shrouded Minstrelsy!
And there, soothed sadly by the dirgeful wind,
Muse on the sore ills I had left behind.
The Pixies, in the superstition of Devonshire, are a race of beings invisibly small, and harmless or friendly to man. At a small distance from a village in that county, half way up a wood-covered hill, is an excavation called the Pixies' Parlour. The roots of old trees form its ceiling; and on its sides are innumerable cyphers, among which the author discovered his own cypher and those of his brothers, cut by the hand of their childhood. At the foot of the hill flows the river Otter.
To this place the Author conducted a party of young Ladies, during the Summer months of the year 1793; one of whom, of stature elegantly small, and of complexion colourless yet clear, was proclaimed the Faery Queen. On which occasion the following Irregular Ode was written.
O'er his hush'd soul our soothing witcheries shed, And twine our faery garlands round his head.
When Evening's dusky car, Crown'd with her dewy star, Steals o'er the fading sky in shadowy flight, On leaves of aspen trees
We tremble to the breeze,
Veiled from the grosser ken of mortal sight.
Or, haply, at the visionary hour,
Along our wildly-bower'd sequester'd walk,
We listen to the enamour'd rustic's talk;
Heave with the heavings of the maiden's breast,
Where young-eyed Loves have built their turtle nest;
Or guide of soul-subduing power
The electric flash, that from the melting eye
Darts the fond question and the soft reply.
Or through the mystic ringlets of the vale We flash our faery feet in gamesome prank; Or, silent-sandal'd, pay our defter court Circling the Spirit of the Western Gale, Where wearied with his flower-caressing sport, Supine he slumbers on a violet bank; Then with quaint music hymn the parting gleam By lonely Otter's sleep-persuading stream; Or where his wave with loud unquiet song Dash'd o'er the rocky channel froth along; Or where, his silver waters smoothed to rest, The tall tree's shadow sleeps upon his breast.
Hence thou lingerer, Light!
Eve saddens into Night.
Mother of wildly-working dreams! we view
The sombre hours, that round thee stand
With down-cast eyes (a duteous band)!
Their dark robes dripping with the heavy dew.
Sorceress of the ebon throne!
Thy power the Pixies own,
When round thy raven brow
Heaven's lucent roses glow,
And clouds in watery colours drest,
Float in light drapery o'er thy sable vest:
What time the pale moon sheds a softer day,
Mellowing the woods beneath its pensive beam:
For 'mid the quivering light 't is ours to play,
Aye dancing to the cadence of the stream.
Welcome, Ladies! to the cell
Where the blameless Pixies dwell:
But thou, sweet Nymph! proclaim'd our Faery Queen, With what obeisance meet
Thy presence shall we greet?
For lo! attendant on thy steps are seen
Graceful Ease in artless stole,
And white-robed Purity of soul,
With Honour's softer mien;
Mirth of the loosely-flowing hair,
And meek-eyed Pity eloquently fair,
Whose tearful cheeks are lovely to the view,
As snow-drop wet with dew.
Unboastful Maid! though now the Lily pale
Transparent grace thy beauties meek;
Yet ere again along the empurpling vale,
The purpling vale and elfin-haunted grove,
Young Zephyr his fresh flowers profusely throws,
We 'll tinge with livelier hues thy cheek;
And, haply, from the nectar-breathing Rose
Extract a Blush for Love!
A CHRISTMAS TALE, TOLD BY A SCHOOL-BOY TO HIS LITTLE BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
UNDERNEATH a huge oak tree
There was, of swine, a huge company,
That grunted as they crunch'd the mast:
For that was ripe, and fell full fast.
Then they trotted for the wind grew high:
One acorn they left, and no more might you spy.
Next came a raven, that liked not such folly:
He belong'd, they did say, to the witch Melancholy!
Blacker was he than blackest jet,
Flew low in the rain, and his feathers not wet.
He pick'd up the acorn and buried it straight
By the side of a river both deep and great.
Where then did the Raven go?
He went high and low,
Over hill, over dale, did the black Raven go.
Many Autumns, many Springs
Travell'd he with wandering wings :
Many Summers, many Winters-
I can't tell half his adventures.
At length he came back, and with him a Sle,
And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.
They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
And young ones they had, and were happy enow.
But soon came a woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He'd an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor Raven's own oak.
His young ones were kill'd; for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.
The boughs from the trunk the woodman did sever;
And they floated it down on the course of the river.
They saw'd it in planks, and its bark they did strip,
And with this tree and others they made a good ship.
The ship was launch'd; but in sight of the land
Such a storm there did rise as no ship could withstand.
It bulged on a rock, and the waves rush'd in fast:
The old Raven flew round and round, and caw'd to the
He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls-
See! see! o'er the topmast the mad water rolls!
Right glad was the Raven, and off he went fleet,
And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet,
And he thank'd him again and again for this treat:
They had taken his all, and Revenge was sweet!
A FAREWELL ODE ON QUITTING SCHOOL FOR JESUS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
WHERE graced with many a classic spoil
Cam rolls his reverend stream along,
I haste to urge the learnad toil
That sternly chides my love-lorn song:
Ah me! too mindful of the days
Illumed hy Passion's orient rays,
When Peace, and Cheerfulness, and Health
Enrich'd me with the best of wealth.
Ah fair delights! that o'er my soul
On Memory's wing, like shadows fly!
Ah Flowers! which Joy from Eden stole
While Innocence stood smiling by!-
But cease, fond heart! this bootless moan:
Those hours on rapid pinions flown
Shall yet return, by Absence crown'd,
And scatter livelier roses round.
The Sun who ne'er remits his fires
On heedless eyes may pour the day:
The Moon, that oft from heaven retires,
Endears her renovated ray.
What though she leaves the sky unblest
To mourn awhile in murky vest?
When she relumes her lovely light,
We bless the wanderer of the night.
LINES ON AN AUTUMNAL EVENING.
O THOU, Wild Fancy, check thy wing! No more
Those thin white flakes, those purple clouds explore!
Nor there with happy spirits speed thy flight
Bathed in rich amber-glowing floods of light;
Nor in yon gleam, where slow descends the day,
With western peasants hail the morning ray!
Ah! rather bid the perish'd pleasures move,
A shadowy train, across the soul of Love!
O'er Disappointment's wintry desert fling
Each flower that wreathed the dewy locks of Spring,
When blushing, like a bride, from Hope's trim bower
She leapt, awaken'd by the pattering shower.
Now sheds the sinking Sun a deeper gleam,
Aid, lovely Sorceress! aid thy poet's dream!
With faery wand O bid the Maid arise,
Chaste Joyance dancing in her bright-blue eyes;
As erst when from the Muses' calm abode
I came, with Learning's meed not unbestow'd;
When as she twined a laurel round my brow,
And met my kiss, and half return'd my vow,
O'er all my frame shot rapid my thrill'd heart,
And every nerve confess'd th' electric dart.
O dear deceit! I see the Maiden rise,
Chaste Joyance dancing in her bright-blue eyes!
When first the lark, high soaring, swells his throat,
Mocks the tired eye, and scatters the wild note,
I trace her footsteps on the accustom'd lawn,
I mark her glancing mid the gleam of dawn.
When the bent flower beneath the night-dew weeps
And on the lake the silver lustre sleeps,
Amid the paly radiance soft and sad,
She meets my lonely path in moon-beams clad.
With her along the streamlet's brink I rove;
With her I list the warblings of the grove;
And seems in each low wind her voice to float,
Lone-whispering Pity in each soothing note!
Spirits of Love! ye heard her name! obey
The powerful spell, and to my haunt repair.
Whether on clustering pinions ye are there,
Where rich snows blossom on the myrtle trees,
Or with fond languishment around my fair
Sigh in the loose luxuriance of her hair;
O heed the spell, and hither wing your way,
Like far-off music, voyaging the breeze!
Spirits! to you the infant Maid was given,
Form'd by the wonderous alchemy of heaven!
No fairer maid does Love's wide empire know,
No fairer maid e'er heaved the bosom's snow.
A thousand Loves around her forehead fly;
A thousand Loves sit melting in her eye;
Love lights her smile-in Joy's red nectar dips
His myrtle flower, and plants it on her lips.
She speaks! and hark that passion-warbled song-
Still, Fancy! still that voice, those notes prolong,
As sweet as when that voice with rapturous falls
Shall wake the soften'd echoes of Heaven's halls!
O (have I sigh'd) were mine the wizard's rod,
Or mine the power of Proteus, changeful god!
A flower-entangled arbour I would seem
To shield my Love from noontide's sultry beam:
Or bloom a Myrtle, from whose odorous boughs
My love might weave gay garlands for her brows.
When twilight stole across the fading vale,
To fan my love I'd be the Evening Gale;
Mourn in the soft folds of her swelling vest,
And flutter my faint pinions on her breast!
On Seraph wing I'd float a Dream by night,
To soothe my Love with shadows of delight:-
Or soar aloft to be the Spangled Skies,
her with a thousand eyes!
As when the Savage, who his drowsy frame
Had bask'd beneath the Sun's unclouded flame,
Awakes amid the troubles of the air,
The skiey deluge, and white lightning's glare-
Aghast he scours before the tempest's sweep,
And sad recalls the sunny hour of sleep :-
So tossed by storms along Life's wildering way,
Mine eye reverted views that cloudless day,
When by my native brook I wont to rove,
While Hope with kisses nursed the Infant Love.
Dear native brook! like Peace, so placidly
Smoothing through fertile fields thy current meek!
Dear native brook! where first young Poesy
Stared wildly-eager in her noontide dream!
Where blameless pleasures dimple Quiet's cheek,
As water-lilies ripple thy slow stream!
Dear native haunts! where Virtue still is gay,
Where Friendship's fix'd star sheds a mellow'd ray,
Where Love a crown of thornless Roses wears,
Where soften'd Sorrow smiles within her tears;
And Memory, with a Vestal's chaste employ,
Unceasing feeds the lambent flame of joy!
No more your sky-larks melting from the sight
Shall thrill the attuned heart-string with delight-
No more shall deck your pensive Pleasures sweet
With wreaths of sober hue my evening seat.
Yet dear to Fancy's eye your varied scene
Of wood, hill, dale, and sparkling brook between!
Yet sweet to Fancy's ear the warbled song,
That soars on Morning's wing your vales among.
Scenes of my Hope! the aching eye ye leave,
Like yon bright hues that paint the clouds of eve!
Tearful and saddening with the sadden'd blaze
Mine eye the gleam pursues with wistful gaze,
Sees shades on shades with deeper tint impend,
Till chill and damp the moonless night descend.
As late each flower that sweetest blows
I pluck'd, the Garden's pride!
Within the petals of a Rose
A sleeping Love I spied.
Around his brows a beamy wreath
Of many a lucent hue;
All purple glow'd his cheek, beneath,
Inebriate with dew.
I softly seized the unguarded Power,
Nor scared his balmy rest;
And placed him, caged within the flower,
On spotless Sara's breast.
But when unweeting of the guile
Awoke the prisoner sweet,
He struggled to escape awhile,
And stamp'd his faery feet.
Ah! soon the soul-entrancing sight
Subdued the impatient boy!
He gazed! he thrill'd with deep delight!
Then clapp'd his wings for joy.
And O! he cried- Of magic kind What charm this Throne endear! Some other Love let Venus findI'll fix my empire here.»>
ONE kiss, dear Maid! I said and sigh'd-
Your scorn the little boon denied.
Ah why refuse the blameless bliss?
Can danger lurk within a kiss?
Yon viewless Wanderer of the vale,
The Spirit of the Western Gale,
At Morning's break, at Evening's close
Inhales the sweetness of the Rose,
And hovers o'er the uninjured bloom
Sighing back the soft perfume.
Vigour to the Zephyr's wing
Her nectar-breathing kisses fling;