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More brave for this, that he hath much to love :-
”T is, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation's eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,-
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not-
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast :
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven's applause :
This is the happy Warrior; this is He
That every Man in arms should wish to be.
PREFIXED TO THE VOLUME ENTITLED
N desultory walk through orchard grounds,
Or some deep chestnut grove, oft have I paused
The while a Thrush, urged rather than restrained
By gusts of vernal storm, attuned his song
To his own genial instincts; and was heard
(Though not without some plaintive tones between)
To utter, above showers of blossom swept
From tossing boughs, the promise of a calm,
Which the unsheltered traveller might receive
With thankful spirit. The descant, and the wind
That seemed to play with it in love or scorn,
Encouraged and endeared the strain of words
That haply flowed from me, by fits of silence
Impelled to livelier
pace. But now, my Book!
Charged with those lays, and others of like mood,
Or loftier pitch if higher rose the theme,
Go, single-yet aspiring to be joined
With thy Forerunners that through many a year
Have faithfully prepared each other's way
Go forth upon a mission best fulfilled
When and wherever, in this changeful world,
Power hath been given to please for higher ends
Than pleasure only; gladdening to prepare
For wholesome sadness, troubling to refine,
Calming to raise ; and, by a sapient Art
Diffused through all the mysteries of our Being,
Softening the toils and pains that have not ceased
To cast their shadows on our mother Earth
Since the primeval doom. Such is the grace
Which, though unsued for, fails not to descend
With heavenly inspiration ; such the aim
That Reason dictates; and, as even the wish
Has virtue in it, why should hope to me
Be wanting, that sometimes, where fancied ills
Harass the mind and strip from off the bowers
Of private life their natural pleasantness,
A Voice-devoted to the love whose seeds
Are sown in every human breast, to beauty
Lodged within compass of the humblest sight,
To cheerful intercourse with wood and field,
And sympathy with man's substantial griefs-
Will not be heard in vain ? And in those days
When unforeseen distress spreads far and wide
Among a People mournfully cast down,
Or into anger roused by venal words
In recklessness flung out to overturn
The judgment, and divert the general heart
From mutual good—some strain of thine, my Book !
Caught at propitious intervals, may win
Listeners who not unwillingly admit
Kindly emotion tending to console
And reconcile; and both with young and old
Exalt the sense of thoughtful gratitude
For benefits that still survive, by faith
In progress, under laws divine, maintained.
March 26, 1842.
SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A HERMIT'S CELL.
HOPES who are they ?--Beads of morning
Strung on slender blades of grass ;
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.
What are fears but voices airy ?
Whispering harm where harm is not ;
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!
What is glory?-in the socket
See how dying tapers fare !
What is pride ?–a whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.
What is friendship ?-do not trust her, Nor the vows which she has made; Diamonds dart their brightest lustre From a palsy-shaken head.
What is truth ?-a staff rejected ;
Duty ?-an unwelcome clog;
Joy ?—a moon by fits reflected
In a swamp or watery bog ;
Bright, as if through ether steering,
To the Traveller's eye it shone:
He hath hailed it re-appearing-
And as quickly it is gone;
Such is Joy-as quickly hidden,
Or mis-shapen to the sight,
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.
What is youth ?-a dancing billow,
(Winds behind, and rocks before !)
Age ?–a drooping, tottering willow
On a flat and lazy shore.
What is peace ?—whèn pain is over,
And love ceases to rebel,
Let the last faint sigh discover
That precedes the passing-knell !
PAUSE, Traveller ! whosoe'er thou be
Whom chance may lead to this retreat,
Where silence yields reluctantly
Even to the fleecy straggler's bleat;
Give voice to what my hand shall trace,
And fear not lest an idle sound
Of words unsuited to the place
Disturb its solitude profound.
I saw this Rock, while vernal air
Blew softly o'er the russet heath,
Upheld a Monument as fair
As church or abbey furnisheth.
Unsullied did it meet the day,
Like marble, white, like ether, pure;
As if, beneath, some hero lay,
Honored with costliest sepulture.
My fancy kindled as I gazed ;
And, ever as the sun shone forth,
The flattered structure glistened, blazed,
And seemed the proudest thing on earth.