« PreviousContinue »
Of the eternal silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor man, nor boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither;
Can in a moment travel thither, And see the children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound,
As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight;
Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering,
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O ye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves,
Think not of any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish'd one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they ;
The innocent brightness of a new-born day
Is lovely yet ; The clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality; Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
"And shall," the pontiff asks, "profaneness flow
From Nazareth-source of Christian piety,
From Bethlehem-from the mounts of agony
And glorified ascension ? Warriors go,
With prayers and blessings we your path will sow;
Like Moses hold our hands erect, till ve
Have chased far off by righteous victory
These sons of Amalec, or laid them low!"
“God willeth it,” the whole assembly cry;
Shout which th’enraptured multitude astounds!
The council-roof and Clermont's towers reply ;-
“God willeth it," from hill to hill rebounds,
And in awe-stricken countries far and nigh
Through “ Nature's hollow arch," the voice resounds.
So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,
Where'er he turn'd, a natural grace
Of haughtiness without pretence,
And to unfold a still magnificence,
Was princely Dion, in the power
And beauty of his happier hour.
Nor less the homage that was seen to wait
On Dion's virtues, when the lunar beam
Of Plato's genius, from its lofty sphere,
Fell round him in the grove of Academe,
Softening their inbred dignity austere;--
That he, not too elate
With self-sufficing solitude,
But with majestic lowliness endued,
Might in the universal bosom reign.
And from affectionate observance gain
Help, under every change of adverse fate.
Five thousand warriors-0 the rapturous day!
Each crown'd with flowers, and arm’d with spear and
Or ruder weapon which their course might yield,
To Syracuse advance in bright array.
Who leads them on?—the anxious people see
Long-exiled Dion marching at their head,
He also crown’d with flowers of Sicily,
And in a white, far-beaming corslet clad!
Pure transport undisturb'd by doubt or fear
The gazers feel; and, rushing to the plain,
Salute those strangers as a holy train
Or blest procession (to the immortals dear)
That brought their precious liberty again.
Lo! when the gates are enter'd, on each hand,
Down the long street, rich goblets fill’d with wine
In seemly order stand,
On tables set, as if for rites divine ;-
And, as the great Deliverer marches by,
He looks on festal ground with fruits bestrown;
And flowers are on his person thrown
In boundless prodigality;
Nor doth the general voice abstain from prayer,
Invoking Dion's tutelary care,
As if a very deity he were !
Domestic bliss (Or call it comfort, by an humbler name), How art thou blighted for the poor man's heart! Lo! in such neighbourhood, from morn to eve, The habitations empty! or perchance The mother left alone,-no helping hand To rock the cradle of her peevish babe ; No daughters round her, busy at the whee', Or in dispatch of each day's little growth Of household occupation; no nice arts Of needle-work; no bustle at the fire, Where once the dinner was prepared with pride; Nothing to speed the day, or cheer the mind; Nothing to praise, to teach, or to command ! —The father, if perchance he still retain His old employments, goes to field or wood, No longer led or follow'd by the sons ; Idlers perchance they were,—but in his sight; Breathing fresh air, and treading the green earth ; Till their short holiday of childhood ceased, Ne'er to return! That birthright now is lost. Economists will tell you that the State Thrives by the forfeiture-unfeeling thought, And false as monstrous ! Can the mother thrive By the destruction of her innocent sons ? In whom a premature necessity Blocks out the forms of nature, preconsumes The reason, famishes the heart, shuts up The infant being in itself, and makes Its very spring a season of decay ! The lot is wretched, the condition sad, Whether a pining discontent survive, And thirst for change; or habit hath subdued The soul depress'd, dejected-even to love Of her dull tasks, and close captivity. -Oh, banish far such wisdom as condemns A native Briton to these inward chains, Fix'd in his soul, so early and so deep, Without his own consent, or knowledge, fix’d! He is a slave to whom release comes not, And cannot come. The boy, where'er he turns, Is still a prisoner; when the wind is up Among the clouds and in the ancient woods; Or when the sun is shining in the east,
Quiet and calm. Behold him- in the school
Of his attainments? no; but with the air
Fanning his temples under heaven's blue arch.
Ilis raiment, whiten'd o'er with cotton flakes,
Or locks of wool, announces whence he comes.
Creeping his gait and cowering—his lip pale-
His respiration quick and audible;
And scarcely could you fancy that a gleam
From out those languid eyes could break, or blush
Mantle upon his cheek. Is this the form,
Is that the countenance, and such the port,
Of no mean being? One who should be clothed
With dignity befitting his proud hope;
Who, in his very childhood, should appear
Sublime—from present purity and joy!
The limbs increase; but liberty of mind
for ever; this organic frame,
So joyful in her motions, is become
Dull, to the joy of her own motions dead;
And even the touch, so exquisitely pour'd
Through the whole body, with a languid will
Performs her functions; rarely competent
To impress a vivid feeling on the mind
Of what there is delightful in the breeze,
The gentle visitations of the sun,
Or lapse of liquid element-by hand,
Or foot, or lip, in summer's warmth-perceived.
-Can hope look forward to a manhood raised
On such foundations ?
From that abstraction I was roused,—and how?
Even as a thoughtful shepherd by a flash
Of lightning startled in a gloomy cave
Of these wild hills. For lo! the dread Bastile,
With all the chambers in its horrid towers,
Fell to the ground :—by violence o'erthrown
Of indignation; and with shouts that drown'd
The crash it made in falling! From the wreck
A golden palace rose, or seem'd to rise,
The appointed seat of equitable law
And mild paternal sway. The potent shock
I felt: the transformation I perceived,