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Vain thought! – Yet be as now thou art,
That in thy waters may
The image of a poet's heart,
How bright, how solemn, how serene !
Such as did once the Poet bless,
Who murmuring here a later * ditty,
Could find no refuge from distress
But in the milder grief of pity.
Now let us, as we float along,
For him suspend the dashing oar;
pray that never child of Song
May know that Poet's sorrows more.
How calm! how still! the only sound,
The dripping of the oar suspended!
- The evening darkness gathers round
By virtue's holiest Powers attended.
* Collins's Ode on the Death of Thomson, the last written, I believe, of the poems which were published during his life-time. This Ode is also alluded to in the next stanza.
IF Thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Shine, Poet, in thy place, and be content!
The Star that from the zenith darts its beams,
Visible though it be to half the Earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of its brightness,
Is yet of no diviner origin,
purer essence, than the one that burns, Like an untended watch-fire, on the ridge "Of some dark mountain ; or than those which seem Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps, Among the branches of the leafless trees.
WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF MACPHERSON'S OSSIAN.
Oft have I caught from fitful breeze
Fragments of far-off melodies,
With ear not coveting the whole,
A part so charmed the pensive soul :
While a dark storm before my sight
Was yielding, on a mountain height
Loose vapours have I watched, that won
Prismatic colours from the sun ;
Nor felt a wish that Heaven would show
The image of its perfect bow.
What need, then, of these finished Strains ?
Away with counterfeit Remains !
An abbey in its lone recess,
A temple of the wilderness,
Wrecks though they be, announce with feeling
The majesty of honest dealing.
Spirit of Ossian ! if imbound
In language thou may'st yet be found,
If aught (intrusted to the pen
Or floating on the tongues of Men,
Albeit shattered and impaired)
Subsist thy dignity to guard,
In concert with memorial claim
Of old grey stone, and high-born name,
That cleaves to rock or pillared cave,
Where moans the blast, or beats the wave,
Let Truth, stern Arbitress of all,
Interpret that Original,
And for presumptuous wrongs atone ;
Authentic words be given, or none !
Time is not blind;- yet He, who spares
Pyramid pointing to the Stars,
Hath preyed with ruthless appetite
On all that marked the primal flight
Of the poetic ecstasy
Into the land of mystery.
No tongue is able to rehearse
One measure, Orpheus ! of thy verse;
Musæus, stationed with his lyre
Supreme among the Elysian quire,
Is, for the dwellers upon earth,
Mute as a Lark ere morning's birth.
Why grieve for these, though passed away
The Music, and extinct the Lay?
When thousands, by severer doom,
Full early to the silent tomb
Have sunk, at Nature's call; or strayed
From hope and promise, self-betrayed ;
The garland withering on their brows;
Stung with remorse for broken vows;
Frantic - else how might they rejoice ?
And friendless, by their own sad choice.
Hail, Bards of mightier grasp! on you
I chiefly call, the chosen Few,
Who cast not off the acknowledged guide,
Who faltered not, nor turned aside;
Whose lofty Genius could survive
Privation, under sorrow thrive ;
In whom the fiery Muse revered
The symbol of a snow-white beard,
Bedewed with meditative tears
Dropped from the lenient cloud of years.