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Of gentle breath and hue.
I had not left my recent chain;
It might be months, or years, or days,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where, It was at length the same to me, Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair. And thus when they appear'd at last, And all my bonds aside were cast, These heavy walls to me had grown A hermitage and all my own! And half I felt as they were come To tear me from a second home: With spiders I had friendship made, And watch'd them in their sullen trade, Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
TO A SKYLARK.
Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are brightening,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad day-light
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflow'd.
What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:
Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:
Like a rose embower'd
In its own green leaves,
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves
Sound of vernal showers
All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass:
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
Or triumphant chaunt,
Match'd with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
With thy clear keen joyance
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
We look before and after,
We pine for what is not:
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
From my lips. would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid