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Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a storm, painted by Sir
I was thy neighbour once, thou rugged pile !
Four summer weeks I dwelt in sight of thee :
I saw thee every day; and all the while
Thy form was sleeping on a glassy sea.
So pure the sky, so quiet was the air !
So like, so very like, was day to day
Whene'er I looked, thy image still was there ;
It trembled, but it never passed away.
How perfect was the calm ! it seemed no sleep,
No mood, which season takes away, or brings :
I could have fancied that the mighty deep
Was even the gentlest of all gentle things.
Ah ! then if mine had been the painter's hand,
To express what then I saw ; and add the gleam,
The light that never was, on sea or land,
The consecration, and the poet's dream :
I would have planted thee, thou hoary pile,
Amid a world how different from this !
Beside a sea that could not cease to smile ;
On tranquil land, beneath a sky of bliss :
A picture had it been of lasting ease,
Elysian quiet, without toil or strife ;
No motion but the moving tide, a breeze,
Or merely silent Nature's breathing life.
Such, in the fond illusion of my heart,
Such picture would I at that time have made ;
And seen the soul of truth in every part ;
A stedfast peace that might not be betrayed.
So once it would have been,-'tis so no more ;
I have submitted to a new control :
A power is gone, which nothing can restore ;
A deep distress hath humanised my soul.
Not for a moment could I now behold
A smiling sea, and be what I have been :
The feeling of my loss will ne'er be old;
This, which I know, I speak with mind serene.
Then, Beaumont, friend! who would have been the friend
If he had lived, of him whom I deplore,
This work of thine I blame not, but commend,
This sea in anger, and that dismal shore.
Oh, 'tis a passionate work !-yet wise and well ?
Well chosen is the spirit that is here ;
That hulk which labours in the deadly swell,
This rueful sky, this pageantry of fear;
And this huge castle, standing here sublime,
I love to see the look with which it braves,
Cased in the unfeeling armour of old time,
The lightning, the fierce wind, and trampling waves.
Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone.
Housed in a dream, at distance from the kind !
Such happiness, wherever it be known,
Is to be pitied; for 'tis surely blind.
But welcome fortitude, and patient cheer,
And frequent sights of what is to be borne !
Such sights, or worse, as are before me here,
Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.
Sweet flower ! belike, one day, to have
A place upon thy poet's grave,
I welcome thee once more :
But he, who was on land, at sea,
My brother, too, in loving thee,
Although he loved more silently,
Sleeps by his native shore.
Ah ! hopeful, hopeful was the day
When to the ship he bent his way,
To govern and to guide :
His wish was gained : a little time
Would bring him back in manhood's prime
And free for life, these hills to climb,
With all his wants supplied.
And full of hope day followed day,
While that stout ship at anchor lay
Beside the shores of Wight;
The May had then made all things green,
And, floating there in pomp serene,
That ship was goodly to be seen,
His pride and his delight !
Yet then, when called ashore, he sought,
The tender peace of rural thought ;
In more than happy mood,
To your abodes, bright daisy flowers ;
He then would steal at leisure hours,
And loved you glittering in your bowers,
A starry multitude.
But hark the word !-the ship is gone ;
From her long course returns--anon
Sets sail : in season due,
Once more on English earth they stand ;
But when a third time from the land
They parted, sorrow was at hand
For him and for his crew.
Ill-fated vessel ! ghastly shock !
At length delivered from the rock,
The deep she hath regained ;
And through the stormy night they steer,
Labouring for life, in hope and fear,
Towards a safer shore-how near,
Yet not to be attained !
“ Silence !” the brave commander cried !
To that calm word a shriek replied,
It was the last death-shriek.
A few appear by morning light,
Preserved upon the tall mast's height :
Oft in my soul I see that sight;
But one dear remnant of the night-
For him in vain I seek.