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“Down to the vale this water steers,
How merrily it goes !
'Twill murmur on a thousand years,
And flow as now it flows.
And here, on this delightful day,
I cannot choose but think
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
Beside this fountain's brink.
My eyes are dim with childish tears,
My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard.
“Thus fares it still in our decay :
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.
“The blackbird in the summer trees,
The lark upon the hill,
Let loose their carols when they please,
Are quiet when they will.
“With nature never do they wage
A foolish strife; they see
A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free:
“But we are pressed by heavy laws;
And often, glad no more,
We wear a face of joy, because
We have been glad of yore.
“ If there is one who need bemoan
His kindred laid in earth,
The household hearts that were his own,
It is the man of mirth.
“My days, my friend, are almost gone,
My life has been approved,
And many love ine; but by none
Am I enough beloved."
“Now both himself and me he wrongs,
The man who thus complains !
I live and sing my
Upon these happy plains,
“And, Matthew, for thy children dead
I'll be a son to thee!”
At this he grasped my hand, and said,
“ Alas! that cannot be."
We rose up from the fountain-side;
And down the smooth descent
Of the green sheep-track did we glide ;
And through the wood we went ;
And, ere we came to Leonard's rock,
He sang those witty rhymes
About the crazy old church clock,
And the bewildered chimes.
If thou indeed derive thy light from heaven,
Shine, poet, in thy place, and be content !
The star that from the zenith darts its beams,
Visible though it be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of its brightness,
Is yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire, on the ridge
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees.
WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF
Oft have I caught, upon a fitful breeze,
Fragments of far-off melodies,
With ear not covering the whole,
A part so charmed the pensive soul :
While a dark storm before my sight
Was yielding, on a mountain height
Loose vapours have I watched, that won
Prismatic colours from the sun;
Nor felt a wish that heaven would show
The image of its perfect bow.
What need, then, of these finished strains?
Away with counterfeit remains !
An abbey in its lone recess,
A temple of the wilderness,
Wrecks though they be, announce with feeling
The majesty of honest dealing.
Spirit of Ossian ! if imbound
In language thou mayst yet be found,
If aught (intrusted to the pen,
Or floating on the tongues of men,
Albeit shattered and impaired)
Subsist thy dignity to guard,
In concert with memorial claim
Of old gray stone, and high-born name,
That cleaves to rock or pillared cave,
Where moans the blast or beats the wave,
Let Truth, stern arbitress of all,
Interpret that original,
And for presumptuous wrongs atone;
Authentic words be given, or none!
Time is not blind ; yet he, who spares
Pyramid pointing to the stars,
Hath preyed with ruthless appetite
On all that marked the primal flight
Of the poetic ecstasy
Into the land of mystery.
No tongue is able to rehearse
One measure, Orpheus ! of thy verse;
Musæus, stationed with his lyre
Supreme among the Elysian quire,
Is, for the dwellers upon earth,
Mute as a lark ere morning's birth.
Why grieve for these, though passed away
The music, and extinct the lay?
When thousands, by severer doom,
Full early to the silent tomb
Have sunk, at Nature's call; or strayed
From hope and promise, self-betrayed ;
The garland withering on their brows;
Stand with remorse for broken vows;
Frantic-else how might they rejoice?
And friendless, by their own sad choice.
Hail, bards of mightier grasp! on you
I chiefly call, the chosen few,
Who cast not off the acknowledged guide,
Who faltered not, nor turned aside ;
Whose lofty genius could survive
Privation, under sorrow thrive;
In whom the fiery muse revered
The symbol of a snow-white beard,
Bedewed with meditative tears
Dropped from the lenient cloud of years.
Brothers in soul ! though distant times Produced you, nursed in various climes,
Ye, when the orb of life had waned,
A plenitude of love retained ;
Hence, while in you each sad regret
By corresponding hope was met,
Ye lingered among human kind,
Sweet voices for the passing wind;
Departing sunbeams, loth to stop,
Though smiling on the last hill top!
Such to the tender-hearted maid
Even ere her joys begin to fade;
Such, haply, to the rugged chief
By fortune crushed, or tamed by grief;
Appears, on Morven's lonely shore,
Dim-gleaming through imperfect lore,
The Son of Fingal; such was blind
Mæonides of ampler mind;
Such Milton, to the fountain head
Of glory by Urania led!
Beneath the concave of an April sky,
When all the fields with freshest green were dight,
Appeared, in presence of that spiritual eye
That aids or supersedes our grosser sight,
The form and rich habiliments of one
Whose countenance bore resemblance to the sun,
When it reveals, in evening majesty,
Features half lost amid their own pure light,
Poised, like a weary cloud, in middle air
He hung,—then floated with angelic ease
(Softening that bright effulgence by degrees)
Till he had reached a summit sharp and bare,
Where oft the venturous heifer drinks the noontide breeze.