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Woods that wave o'er Delphi’s steep,
Isles that crown the Egean deep,
Fields that cool Ilissus laves,
Or where Mæander's amber waves
In lingering lab'rinths creep,
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Mute, but to the voice of Anguish !
Where each old poetic mountain
Inspiration breathed around;
Every shade and hallow'd fountain
Murmur'd deep a solemn sound;
Till the sad Nine, in Greece's evil hour,
Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains.
Alike they scorn the pomp of tyrant Power,
And coward Vice, that revels in her chains. When Latium had her lofty spirit lost, They sought, 0 Albion ! next, thy sea-encircled coast.
Far from the sun and summer gale,
In thy green lap was Nature's darling laid,
What time, where lucid Avon stray'd,
To him the mighty Mother did unveil
Her awful face : the dauntless child
Stretch'd forth his little arms, and smiled.
• This pencil take,' she said, whose colours clear,
Richly paint the vernal year :
Thine, too, these golden keys, immortal boy!
This can unlock the gates of Joy;
Of Horror that, and thrilling Fears,
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic Tears.
Nor second He, that rode sublime
Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy,
The secrets of the abyss to spy.
He pass’d the flaming bounds of place and time :
The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
Where Angels tremble while they gaze,
He saw; but, blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night.
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding
Hark! his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy, hovering o'er,
Scatters from her pictured urn,
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn :
But ah ! 'tis heard no more
Oh ! Lyre divine, what daring Spirit
Wakes thee now! Though he inherit
Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
That the Theban eagle * bear, Sailing with supreme dominion
Through the azure deep of air:
* Pindar compares himself to that bird, and his enemies to rarens, that croak and clamour in rain below, while it pursues its flight, regardless of their noise.'— Gray.
The reference in the preceding verses is to the Ode to St. Cecilia's Day.
Yet oft before his infant eyes would run
Such forms as glitter in the Muses' ray, With orient hues, unborrow'd of the sun :
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way, Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate, Beneath the Good how far !—but far above the Great.
Now the golden Morn aloft
Waves her dew-bespangled wing ;
With vermeil cheek, and whisper soft,
She woos the tardy Spring;
Till April starts, and calls around
The sleeping fragrance from the ground;
And lightly o'er the living scene
Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.
New-born flocks, in rustic dance,
Frisking ply their feeble feet:
Forgetful of their wintry trance,
The birds his presence greet.
But chief, the skylark warbles high
His trembling, thrilling ecstasy ;
And, lessening from the dazzled sight,
Melts into air and liquid light.
Yesterday the sullen year
Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
Mute was the music of the air,
The herd stood drooping by :
Their raptures now that wildly flow
No yesterday nor morrow know :
'Tis man alone that joy descries
With forward and reverted eyes.
Smiles on past Misfortune's brow
Soft Reflection's hand can trace,
And o'er the cheek of Sorrow throw
A melancholy grace:
While Hope prolongs our happier hour,
Of deepest shades, that dimly lower
And blacken round our weary way,
Gilds with a gleam of distant day.
Still where rosy Pleasure leads,
See a kindred Grief pursue ;
Behind the steps that Misery treads,
Approaching Comfort view :
The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
Chastised by sabler tints of woe;
And blended form, with artful strife,
The strength and harmony of life.
See the wretch that long has tost
On the thorny bed of pain,
At length repair his vigour lost,
And breathe and walk again;
The meanest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening paradise.
Humble Quiet builds her cell
Near the source whence Pleasure flows;
She eyes the clear crystalline well,
And tastes it as it goes.
While, far below, the madding crowd
Rush headlong to the dangerous flood,
Where broad and turbulent it sweeps,
· And perish in the boundless deeps.*
Written in a Country Churchyard.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds :
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.