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Along the loose rocks, or the slippery verge
Of foaming torrent. - From thy orisons.
Come forth; and, while the morning air is yet
Transparent as the soul of innocent youth,
Let me, thy happy guide, now point thy way,
And now precede thee, winding to and fro,
Till we by perseverance gain the top
Of some smooth ridge, whose brink precipitous
Kindles intense desire for powers withheld
From this corporeal frame; whereon who stands
Is seized with strong incitement to push forth
His arms, as swimmers use, and plunge-dread thought!
For pastime plunge-into the 'abrupt abyss,'
Where ravens spread their plumy vans at ease!
And yet more gladly thee would I conduct
Through woods and spacious forests,-to behold
There, how the original of human art,
Heaven-prompted Nature, measures and erects
Her temples, fearless for the stately work,
Though waves in every breeze its high-arched roof,
And storms the pillars rock. But we such schools
Of reverential awe will chiefly seek
In the still summer noon, while beams of light,
Reposing here, and in the aisles beyond
Traceably gliding through the dusk, recall
To mind the living presences of nuns ;
A gentle, pensive, white-robed sisterhood,
Whose saintly radiance mitigates the gloom
Of those terrestrial fabrics where they serve,
To Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, espoused.
Now also shall the page of classic lore,
To these glad eyes from bondage freed, again
Lie open; and the book of Holy Writ,
Again unfolded, passage clear shall yield
To heights more glorious still, and into shades
More awful, where advancing hand in hand
We may be taught, O darling of my care!
To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
And consecrate our lives to truth and love.
THE Sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
Are hung, as if with golden shields,
Bright trophies of the sun!
Like a fair sister of the sky,
Unruffled doth the blue lake lie,
The mountains looking on.
And, sooth to say, yon vocal grove,
Albeit uninspired by love,
By love untaught to ring,
May well afford to mortal ear
An impulse more profoundly dear
Than music of the spring.
For that from turbulence and heat
Proceeds, from some uneasy seat
In nature's struggling frame,
Some region of impatient life;
And jealousy, and quivering strife,
Therein a portion claim.
This, this is holy;-while I hear
These vespers of another year,
This hymn of thanks and praise,
My spirit seems to mount above
The anxieties of human love,
And earth's precarious days.
But list!-though winter storms be nigh,
Unchecked is that soft harmony:
There lives who can provide
For all his creatures; and in him,
Even like the radiant seraphim,
These choristers confide.
UPON THE SAME OCCASION.
DEPARTING summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely caroling.
No faint and hesitating trill,
Such tribute as to winter chill
The lonely red breast pays!
Clear, loud, and lively is the din,
From social warblers gathering in
Their harvest of sweet lays.
Nor doth the example fail to cheer
Me, conscious that my leaf is sere,
And yellow on the bough:-
Fall, rosy garlands, from my head!
Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed
Around a younger brow!
Yet will I temperately rejoice:
Wide is the range, and free the choice
Of undiscordant themes;
Which, haply, kindred souls may prize
Not less than vernal ecstasies,
And passion's feverish dreams.
For deathless powers to verse belong,
And they like demigods are strong
On whom the muses smile;
But some their function have disclaimed,
Best pleased with what is aptest framed
To enervate and defile.
Not such the initiatory strains
Committed to the silent plains
In Britain's earliest dawn:
Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale,
While all too-daringly the veil
Of nature was withdrawn!
Nor such the spirit-stirring note
When the live chords Alcæus smote,
Inflamed by sense of wrong;
'Woe! woe to tyrants!' from the lyre
Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
Of fierce vindictive song.
And not unhallowed was the page
By winged love inscribed, to assuage
The pangs of vain pursuit;
Love listening while the Lesbian maid
With finest touch of passion swayed
Her own Æolian lute.
who patiently explore
The wreck of Herculanean lore,
What rapture! could ye
Some Theban fragment, or unrol
One precious, tender-hearted scroll
Of pure Simonides.
That were, indeed, a genuine birth
Of poesy; a bursting forth
Of genius from the dust:
What Horace gloried to behold,
What Maro loved shall we enfold?
Can haughty time be just!
WHERE towers are crushed, and unforbidden weeds
O'er mutilated arches shed their seeds;
And temples, doomed to milder change, unfold
A new magnificence that vies with old;
Firm in its pristine majesty hath stood
A votive column, spared by fire and flood;-
And, though the passions of man's fretful race
Have never ceased to eddy round its base,
Not injured more by touch of meddling hands
Than a lone obelisk, mid Nubian sands,
Or aught in Syrian deserts left to save
From death the memory of the good and brave.
Historic figures round the shaft embossed
Ascend, with lineaments in air not lost:
Still as he turns, the charmed spectator sees
Group winding after group with dreamlike ease;
Triumphs in sunbright gratitude displayed,
Or softly stealing into modest shade.
So, pleased with purple clusters to entwine
Some lofty elm-tree, mounts the daring vine;
The woodbine so, with spiral grace, and breathes
Wide-spreading odours from her flowery wreaths.
Borne by the muse from rills in shepherd's ears
Murmuring but one smooth story for all years,
I gladly commune with the mind and heart
Of him who thus survives by classic art,