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To lie and listen, till o'er-drowsied sense
Sinks, hardly conscious of the influence,
To the soft murmur of the vagrant bee.
A slender sound ! yet hoary time
Doth to the soul exalt it with the chime
Of all his years ;-a company
Of ages coming, ages gone;
(Nations from before them sweeping,
Regions in destruction steeping),
But every awful note in unison
With that faint utterance, which tells
Of treasure sucked from buds and bells,
For the pure keeping of those waxen cells;
Where she, a statist prudent to confer
Upon the public weal; a warrior bold,
Radiant all over with unburnished gold,
And armed with living spear for mortal fight;
A cunning forager
That spreads no waste; a social builder ; one
In whom all busy offices unite
With all fine functions that afford delight,
Safe through the winter storm in quiet dwells !
And is she brought within the power
Of vision ?-o'er this tempting flower
Hovering until the petals stay
Her flight, and take its voice away!
Observe each wing--a tiny van !-
The structure of her laden thigh,
How fragile !-yet of ancestry
Mysteriously remote and high,
High as the imperial front of man,
The roseate bloom on woman's cheek;
The soaring eagle's curved beak;
The white plumes of the floating swan;
Old as the tiger's paw, the lion's mane
Ere shaken by that mood of stern disdain
At which the desert trembles.-Humming bee!
Thy sting was needless then, perchance unknown ;
The seeds of malice were not sown ;
All creatures met in peace, from fierceness free,
And no pride blended with their dignity.
Tears had not broken from their source ;
Nor Anguish strayed from her Tartarean den;
The golden years maintained a course
Not undiversified, though smooth and even ;
We were not mocked with glimpse and shadow, then
Bright seraphs mixed familiarly with men ;
And earth and stars composed a universal heaven!
ODE TO LYCORIS.
An age hath been when earth was proud
Of lustre too intense
To be sustained ; and mortals bowed
The front in self-defence.
Who then, if Dian's crescent gleamed,
Or Cupid's sparkling arrow streamed
While on the wing the urchin played,
Could fearlessly approach the shade?
Enough for one soft vernal day,
If I, a bard of ebbing time,
And nurtured in a fickle clime,
May haunt this horned bay ;
Whose amorous water multiplies
The flitting halcyon's vivid dyes ;
And smooths her liquid breast-to show
These swan-like specks of mountain snow,
White as the pair that slid along the plains
Of heaven, when Venus held the reins !
In youth we love the darksome lawn
Brushed by the owlet's wing;
Then, twilight is preferred to dawn,
And autumn to the spring.
Sad fancies do we then affect,
In luxury of disrespect
To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Lycoris (if such name befit
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign!)
When nature marks the year's decline,
Be ours to welcome it;
Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
Before the path of milder suns,
Pleased while the sylvan world displays
Its ripeness to the feeding gaze;
Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
Of the resplendent miracle.
But something whispers to my heart
That, as we downward tend,
Lycoris ! life requires an art
To which our souls must bend;
A skill—to balance and supply ;
And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
As soon it must, a sense to sip,
Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
Frank greeting, then, to that blithe guest
Diffusing smiles o'er land and sea
To aid the vernal Deity
Whose home is in the breast !
May pensive autumn ne'er present
A claim to her disparagement!
While blossoms and the budding spray
Inspire us in our own decay:
Still as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
Be topeful spring the favourite of the soul!
TO THE SAME. Enough of climbing toil! Ambition treads Here, as mid busier scenes, ground steep and rough, Or slippery even to peril! and each step, As we for most uncertain recompense Mount toward the empire of the fickle clouds, Each weary step, dwarfing the world below, Induces, for its old familiar sights, Unacceptable feelings of contempt, With wonder mixed—that man could e'er be tied, In anxious bondage to such nice array And formal fellowship of petty things ! Oh, 'tis the heart that magnifies this life, Making a truth and beauty of her own: And moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades, And gurgling rills, assist her in the work More efficaciously than realms outspread, As in a map, before the adventurer's gazeOcean and earth contending for regard.
The umbrageous woods are left-how far beneath!
But lo! where darkness seems to guard the mouth
Of yon wild cave, whose jagged brows are fringed
With flaccid threads of ivy, in the still
And sultry air depending motionless.
Yet cool the space within, and not uncheered
(As whoso enters shall ere long perceive)
By stealthy influx of the timid day
Mingling with night, such twilight to compose
As Numa loved: when in the Egerian grot,
From the sage nymph appearing at his wish,
He gained whate'er a regal mind might ask,
Or need, of council breathed through lips divine.
Long as the heat shall rage, let that dim cave
Protect us, there deciphering as we may
Diluvian records; or the sighs of earth
Interpreting; or counting for old Time
His minutes, by reiterated drops,
Audible tears, from some invisible source
That deepens upon fancy-more and more
Drawn toward the centre whence those sighs creep forth
To awe the lightness of humanity.
Or, shutting up thyself within thyself,
There let me see thee sink into a mood
Of gentler thought, protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone,
And no one can tell whither. Dearest friend!
We two have known such happy hours together,
That, were power granted to replace them (fetched
From out the pensive shadows where they lie)
In the first warmth of their original sunshine,
Loth should I be to use it: passing sweet
Are the domains of tender memory!
A BARKING sound the shepherd hears,
A cry as of a dog or fox;
He halls and searches with his eyes
Among the scattered rocks:
And now at distance can discern
A stirring in a brake of fern;
And instantly a dog is seen,
Glancing through that covert green.