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[THE GAINS OF RESTRAINT.)
Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room ;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels ;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy ; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells :
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is : and hence for me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.
[ON THE BEACH AT CALAIS.]
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free ;
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration ; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity ;
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea:
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder-everlastingly.
Dear Child ! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worship’st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPT. 3, 1802 [? 1803].
Earth has not any thing to show more fair :
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty :
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning ; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill ;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will :
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still !
THOUGHT OF A BRITON ON THE SUBJUGATION OF
Two Voices are there ; one is of the sea,
One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice :
In both from age to age thou didst rejoice,
They were thy chosen music, Liberty !
There came a Tyrant, and with holy glee
Thou fought'st against him ; but hast vainly striven :
Thou from thy Alpine holds at length art driven,
Where not a torrent murmurs heard by thee.
Of one deep bliss thine ear hath been bereft :
Then cleave, O cleave to that which still is left;
For, high-souled Maid, what sorrow would it be
That Mountain floods should thunder as before,
And Ocean bellow from his rocky shore,
And neither awful Voice be heard by thee!
(1802 or 1803 ?)
WRITTEN IN LONDON, SEPTEMBER 1802.
Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour : England hath need of thee : she is a fen Of stagnant waters : altar, sword, and pen, Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dower Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again ; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. · Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart : Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea : Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life's common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
The world is too much with us : late and soon.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers :
Little we see in Nature that is ours ;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon ;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers ;
For this, for every thing, we are out of tune ;
It moves us not.-Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn :
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn ;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea ;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
[THE THRONE OF DEATH.]
Methought I saw the footsteps of a throne
Which mists and vapours from mine eyes did shroud-
Nor view of who might sit thereon allowed ;
But all the steps and ground about were strown
With sights the ruefullest that flesh and bone
Ever put on; a miserable crowd,
Sick, hale, old, young, who cried before that cloud,
'Thou art our king, O Death ! to thee we groan.'
Those steps I clomb; the mists before me gave
Smooth way: and I beheld the face of one
Sleeping alone within a mossy cave,
With her face up to heaven ; that seemed to have
Pleasing remembrance of a thought foregone ;
A lovely Beauty in a summer grave !
[THE SHOCK OF BEREAVEMENT.]
Surprised by joy-impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport-Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find ?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss ?—That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more ;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.
[Concluding sonnet of the series “To the River Duddon,' 1820.]
I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away.–Vain sympathies !
For, backward, Duddon ! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide ;
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide ;
The Form remains, the Function never dies ;
While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish ;-be it so !
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour;
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent
We feel that we are greater than we know.
From low to high doth dissolution climb,
And sink from high to low, along a scale
Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail ;
A musical but melancholy chime,
Which they can hear who meddle not with crime,
Nor avarice, nor over-anxious care.
Truth fails not; but her outward forms that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more; drop like the tower sublime
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
His crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of Time.