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Of perils, overlook’d or unforeseen,
I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine ; nor do I seek to screen,
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.
Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marr'd
,-a fate, or will, that walk'd astray; And I at times have found the struggle hard, And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.
Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old ;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have rolld
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away;
Something—I know not what-does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience ;-not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,-,
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.
I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks ;
And even at moments I think I could see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.
Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation ;-to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date :
But something worthier do such scenes inspire :
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
Oh that thou wert but with me!--but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret ;
There may be others which I less may show ;-
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my alter'd eye.
I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair ; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore :
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before ;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are Resign’d for ever, or divided far.
The world is all before me ; but I ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply-
It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister--till I look again on thee.
I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not ;—for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest-even the only paths for me-
Had I but sooner learnt the crown to shun,
I had been better than I now can be ;
The passions which have torn me would have slept ; I had not suffer'd, and thou hadst not wept.
With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make-a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue ;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over-I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.
And for the future, this world's future may
From me demand but little of my care ;
I have outlived myself by many a day;
Having survived so many things that were ;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils ; for I had the share
Ot life which might have fill'd a century,
Before its fourth in time had pass’d me by.
And for the remnant which may be to come
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,-for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings further.—Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around,
And worship Nature with a thought profound.
For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine ;
We were and are-I am, even as thou art-
Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined-let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last !
Our life is two fold : Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence : Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality.
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off our waking toils,
They do divide our being ; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past,—they speak
Like Sibyls of the future : they have power-
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain ;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that 's gone by,
The dream of vanish'd shadows--Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow ?-What are they?
Creations of the mind ?—The mind can make
Substance, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dream'd
Perchance in sleep-for in itself a thought,
A slumbering thought, is capable of years,
And curdles a long life into one hour.
I saw two beings in the hues of youth
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill,
Green, and of mild declivity, the last
As 't were the cape of a long ridge of such,
Save that there was no sea to lave its base,
But a most living landscape, and the wave
Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men
Scatter'd at intervals, and wreathing smoke
Arising from such rustic roofs ;—the hill
Was crown'd with a peculiar diadem
Of trees, in circular array, so fix'd,
Not by the sport of nature, but of man:
These two, a maiden and a youth, were there
Gazing—the one on all that was beneath
Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her ;
And both were young, and one was beautiful :
And both were young-yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge,
The maid was on the eve of womanhood ;
The boy had fewer summers, but his heart
Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye
There was but one beloved face on Curth,
And that was shining on him : he had look'd
Upon it till it could not pass away;
He had no breath, no being, but in hers;
She was his voice ; he did not speak to her,
But trembled on her words ; she was his sight,
For his eye follow'd hers, and saw with hers,
Which colour'd all his objects : he had ceased
To live within himself; she was his life,
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
Which terminated all : upon a tone,
A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,
And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart
Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these sond feelings had no share :
Her sighs were not for him ; to her he was
Even as a brother-but no more ; 't was much,
For brotherless she was, save in the name
Her infant friendship had bestowed on him ;
Herself the solitary scion left
Of a time-honour'd race. - It was a name
Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not-and why?