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So, Lady Flora, take my lay,
And, if you find a meaning there,
O whisper to your glass, and say,
"What wonder, if he thinks me fair?
What wonder I was all unwise,
To shape the song for your delight, Like long-tailed birds of Paradise,
That float through Heaven, and cannot light? Or old-world trains, upheld at court By Cupid-boys of blooming hueBut take it earnest wed with sport, And either sacred unto you.
My father left a park to me,
But it is wild and barren,
A garden too with scarce a tree,
And waster than a warren :
Yet say the neighbors when they call,
It is not bad but good land,
And in it is the germ of all
That grows within the woodland.
O had I lived when song was great
In days of old Amphion,
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
Nor cared for seed or scion!
And had I lived when song was great,
And legs of trees were limber,
And ta'en my fiddle to the gate,
And fiddled in the timber!
"Tis said he had a tuneful tongue, Such happy intonation,
Wherever he sat down and sung
He left a small plantation;
Wherever in a lonely grove
He set up his forlorn pipes,
The gouty oak began to move,
And flounder into hornpipes.
The mountain stirred its bushy crown,
And, as tradition teaches,
Young ashes pirouetted down,
Coquetting with young beeches;
And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
Ran forward to his rhyming,
And from the valleys underneath
Came little copses climbing.
The linden broke her ranks and rent
The woodbine wreaths that bind her, And down the middle buzz! she went With all her bees behind her: The poplars, in long order due, With cypress promenaded, The shock-head willows two and two By rivers gallopaded.
Came wet-shod alder from the wave,
Came yews, a dismal coterie;
Each plucked his one foot from the grave,
Poussetting with a sloe-tree :
Old elms came breaking from the vine,
The vine streamed out to follow,
And, sweating rosin, plumped the pine
From many a cloudy hollow.
And wasn't it a sight to see,
When, ere his song was ended,
Like some great landslip, tree by tree,
The country-side descended;
And shepherds from the mountain-eaves
Looked down, half-pleased, half-frightened, As dashed about the drunken leaves The random sunshine lightened!
O, nature first was fresh to men,
And wanton without measure;
So youthful and so flexile then,
You moved her at your pleasure. Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs! And make her dance attendance: Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs, And scirrhous roots and tendons.
'Tis vain! in such a brassy age
I could not move a thistle;
The very sparrows in the hedge
Scarce answer to my whistle;
Or at the most, when three-parts-sick
With strumming and with scraping,
A jackass heehaws from the rick,
The passive oxen gaping.
But what is that I hear? a sound
Like sleepy counsel pleading:
O Lord!-'tis in my neighbor's ground,
The modern Muses reading.
They read Botanic Treatises,
And Works on Gardening through there, And Methods of transplanting trees, To look as if they grew there.
The withered Misses! how they prose
O'er books of travelled seamen,
And show you slips of all that grows
From England to Van Diemen.
They read in arbors clipt and cut,
And alleys, faded places,
By squares of tropic summer shut,
And warmed in crystal cases.
But these, though fed with careful dirt,
Are neither green nor sappy;
Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
The spindlings look unhappy.
Better to me the meanest weed
That blows upon its mountain, The vilest herb that runs to seed Beside its native fountain.
And I must work through months of toil,
And years of cultivation,
Upon my proper patch of soil,
To grow my own plantation.
I'll take the showers as they fall,
I will not vex my bosom:
Enough, if at the end of all
A little garden blossom.
DEEP on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapor goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.
As these white robes are soiled and dark, To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, oh Lord! and far,
Through all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.
He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strews her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll back, and far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide-
A light upon the shining sea-
The Bridegroom with his bride!
My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high, The hard brands shiver on the steel, The splintered spear-shafts crack and fly, The horse and rider reel :
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,