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Ye who have toiled uphill to reach the haunt
Of other men who lived in other days,
Whether the ruins of a citadel
Raised on the summit by Pelasgic hands,
Or chamber of the distaff and the song....
Ye will not tell what treasure there ye found,
But I will.
Ye found there the viper laid
Full-length, flat-headed, on a sunny slab,
Nor loth to hiss at ye while crawling down.
Ye saw the owl flap the loose ivy leaves
And, hooting, shake the berries on your heads.
Now, was it worth your while to mount so high? Merely to say ye did it, and to ask
If those about ye ever did the like?
Believe me, O my friends, 'twere better far
To stretch your limbs along the level sand
As they do, where small children scoop the drift,
Thinking it must be gold, where curlews soar
And scales drop glistening from the prey above.
Twenty years hence my eyes may grow
If not quite dim, yet rather so,
Yet yours from others they shall know
Twenty years hence.
Twenty years hence, though it may hap
That I be called to take a nap
In a cool cell where thunder clap
Was never heard,
There breathe but o'er my arch of grass,
A not too sadly sighed 'Alas!'
And I shall catch ere you can pass
That winged word.
Lately our poets loitered in green lanes,
Content to catch the ballad of the plains;
I fancied I had strength enough to climb
A loftier station at no distant time,
And might securely from intrusion doze
Upon the flowers thro' which Ilissus flows.
In those pale olive grounds all voices cease,
And from afar dust fills the paths of Greece.
My slumber broken and my doublet torn,
I find the laurel also bears a thorn.
When Helen first saw wrinkles in her face
('Twas when some fifty long had settled there
And intermarried and brancht off awide),
She threw herself upon her couch, and wept ;
On this side hung her head, and over that
Listlessly she let fall the faithless brass
That made the men as faithless.
But when you Found them, or fancied them, and would not hear That they were only vestiges of smiles,
Or the impression of some amorous hair
Astray from cloistered curls and roseat band,
Which had been lying there all night perhaps
Upon a skin so soft... No, no, you said,
Sure, they are coming, yes, are come, are here...
Well, and what matters it... while you are tool.
Say ye, that years roll on and ne'er return?
Say ye, the Sun who leaves them all behind,
Their great creator, cannot bring one back
With all his force, tho' he draw worlds around?...
Witness me, little streams! that meet before
My happy dwelling; witness, Africo
And Mensola! that ye have seen at once
Twenty roll back, twenty as swift and bright
As are your swiftest and your brightest waves,
When the tall cypress o'er the Doccia
Hurls from his inmost boughs the latent snow.
Go, and go happy, pride of my past days And solace of my present, thou whom Fate Alone hath severed from me! One step higher Must yet be mounted, high as was the last; Friendship, with faltering accent, says Depart! And take the highest seat below the crowned.
How often, when life's summer day
Is waning, and its sun descends,
Wisdom drives laughing wit away,
And lovers shrivel into friends!
You smiled, you spoke, and I believed,
By every word and smile deceived.
Another man would hope no more-
Nor hope I what I hoped before:
But let not this last wish be vain,
Deceive-deceive me once again!
There are who say we are but dust,
We may be soon, but are not yet,
Nor should be while in Love we trust
And never what he taught forget.
Why, why repine, my pensive friend,
At pleasures slipt away?
Some the stern Fates will never lend,
And all refuse to stay.
I see the rainbow in the sky,
The dew upon the grass;
I see them, and I ask not why
They glimmer or they pass.
With folded arms I linger not
To call them back-'twere vain :
In this, or in some other spot
I know they'll shine again.
CHILDREN PLAYING IN A CHURCHYARD.
Children, keep up that harmless play,
Your kindred angels plainly say
By God's authority ye may.
Be prompt his Holy word to hear,
It teaches you to banish fear;
The lesson lies on all sides near.
Ten summers hence the sprightliest lad
In Nature's face will look more sad,
And ask where are those smiles she had?
Ere many days the last will close.
Play on, play on, for then (who knows?)
Ye who play here may here repose.
Ah! what avails the sceptered race!
Ah! what the form divine !
What every virtue, every grace!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and sighs
I consecrate to thee.
ON SOUTHEY'S DEATH.
Friends, hear the words my wandering thoughts would say,
And cast them into shape some other day;
Southey, my friend of forty years, is
And, shattered by the fall, I stand alone.
An aged man who loved to doze away
An hour by daylight, for his eyes were dim,
And he had seen too many suns go down
And rise again, dreamt that he saw two forms
Of radiant beauty; he would clasp them both,
But both flew stealthily away. He cried
In his wild dream,
'I never thought, O youth,
That thou, altho' so cherisht, would'st return,
But I did think that he who came with thee,
Love, who could swear more sweetly than birds sing,
Would never leave me comfortless and lone.'
A sigh broke through his slumber, not the last.
I strove with none, for none was worth my strife;
Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art;
I warmed both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
FOR AN EPITAPH AT Fiesole.
Lo! where the four mimosas blend their shade,
In calm repose at last is Landor laid;
For ere he slept he saw them planted here
By her his soul had ever held most dear,
And he had lived enough when he had dried her tear.