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THE

POETICAL WORKS

OF

WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES,

CANON OF ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL, AND RECTOR OF BREMHILL.

With Memoir, Critical Dissertation, and Explanatory Notes,

BY THE

REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.


VOL. I.

EDINBURGH: JAMES NICHOL, 9 NORTH BANK STREET.
LONDON: JAMES NISBET AND CO.
DUBLIN: W. ROBERTSON.
M.DCCC.LV.[Pg ii]


EDINBURGH:
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
PAUL'S WORK.

[Pg iii]


CONTENTS.

SONNETS AND MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

PAGE
SONNETS:—
At Tynemouth Priory, after a Tempestuous Voyage7
Bamborough Castle8
The River Wainsbeck8
The Tweed Visited9
On leaving a Village in Scotland9
Evening10
To the River Itchin11
On Resigning a Scholarship of Trinity College, Oxford, and Retiring to a Country Curacy11
Dover Cliffs12
On Landing at Ostend12
The Bells of Ostend13
The Rhine13
Influence of Time on Grief14
The Convent14
The River Cherwell15
On Entering Switzerland15
Distant View of England from the Sea16
Hope16
To a Friend17
Absence17
Bereavement18
Oxford Revisited19
In Memoriam19
On the Death of the Rev. William Benwell, M.A.20
At Malvern20
Netley Abbey21
Associations21
Music22
Approach of Summer22
At Oxford, 178623
At Dover, 178623
Retrospection24
On Accidentally Meeting a Lady, now no more24
On hearing "The Messiah" performed in Gloucester Cathedral, Sept. 18, 183525
Woodspring Abbey, 183626
Lacock Nunnery, 183726
On a Beautiful Landscape27
Art and Nature: the Bridge between Clifton and Leigh Woods27
Picture of an Old Man28
Picture of a Young Lady29
Hour-glass and Bible29
Milton. Two Sonnets on the bust of Milton, in Youth and Age, at Stourhead30
To Sir Walter Scott31
  
MISCELLANEOUS POEMS:— 
Elegy written at the Hotwells, Bristol32
Monody on Henry Headley36
Howard's Account of Lazarettos37
The Grave of Howard42
Shakspeare46
Abbe Thule's Lament for his Son Prince Le Boo49
Southampton Water51
The Philanthropic Society52
The Dying Slave58
Song of the American Indian60
Monody, written at Matlock61
The Right Honourable Edmund Burke67
On Leaving a Place of Residence72
Elegiac Stanzas written during Sickness at Bath73
On leaving Winchester School77
Hope: an Allegorical Sketch77
The Battle of the Nile88
A Garden-Seat at Home[Pg iv]94
In Horto Rev. J. Still95
Greenwich Hospital95
A Rustic Seat near the Sea96
Wardour Castle96
Pole-vellum, Cornwall97
On a Beautiful Spring98
On a Cenotaph to the Memory of Lieut-Col. Isaac99
Translation of a Latin Poem, by Rev. Newton Ogle100
St Michael's Mount101
On an Unfortunate and Beautiful Woman111
Hymn to Woden113
Coombe-Ellen115
Summer Evening at Home125
Winter Evening at Home126
The Spirit of Navigation127
Water-party on Beaulieu River, in the New Forest134
Monody on the Death of Dr Warton135
Epitaph on H. Walmsley, Esq., in Alverstoke Church, Hants141
Age142
On a Landscape by Rubens142
The Harp, and Despair, of Cowper151
Stanzas for Music152
Music152
Absence153
Fairy Sketch154
Inscription155
Pictures from Theocritus156
Sketches in the Exhibition, 1805161
Do. in the Exhibition, 1807162
Southampton Castle164
The Winds166
On William Sommers of Bremhill169
The Visionary Boy170
Cadland, Southampton River180
The Last Song of Camoens182
The Sylph of Summer184
The Harp of Hoel201
Avenue in Savernake Forest215
Dirge of Nelson216
Death of Captain Cooke, of "The Bellerophon"217
Battle of Corruna218
Sketch from Bowden Hill after Sickness219
Sun-Dial in the Churchyard of Bremhill223
  
THE SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY: 
        A Descriptive and Historical Poem225
    Book the First231
    Book the Second245
    Book the Third258
    Book the Fourth266
    Book the Fifth285
  
THE MISSIONARY295
    Introduction297
    Canto First298
    Canto Second309
    Canto Third318
    Canto Fourth330
    Canto Fifth339
    Canto Sixth344
    Canto Seventh350
    Canton Eighth359

The Memoir and Critical Dissertation being unavoidably delayed, will be prefixed to Vol. II.[Pg 1]


PREFACE.

A Ninth Edition of the following Poems having been called for by the public, the author is induced to say a few words, particularly concerning those which, under the name of Sonnets, describe his personal feelings.

They can be considered in no other light than as exhibiting occasional reflections which naturally arose in his mind, chiefly during various excursions, undertaken to relieve, at the time, depression of spirits. They were, therefore, in general, suggested by the scenes before them; and wherever such scenes appeared to harmonise with his disposition at the moment, the sentiments were involuntarily prompted.

Numberless poetical trifles of the same kind have occurred to him, when perhaps, in his solitary rambles, he has been "chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy;" but they have been forgotten as he left the places which gave rise to them; and the greater part of those originally committed to the press were written down, for the first time, from memory.

This is nothing to the public; but it may serve in some measure to obviate the common remark on melancholy poetry, that it has been very often gravely composed, when possibly the heart of the writer had very little share in the distress he chose to describe.

But there is a great difference between natural and fabricated feelings, even in poetry. To which of these two characters the poems before the reader belong, the author leaves those who have felt sensations of sorrow to judge.

They who know him, know the occasions of them to have been real; to the public he might only mention the sudden death of a deserving young woman, with whom,

... Sperabat longos heu! ducere soles,
Et fido acclinis consenuisse sinu.[1]
Donhead, April 1805.

[1] The early editions of these Sonnets, 1791, were dedicated to the Reverend Newton Ogle, D.D., Dean of Winchester.[Pg 2]


INTRODUCTION TO THE EDITION OF 1837.

To account for the variations which may be remarked in this last edition of my Sonnets, from that which was first published fifty years ago, it may be proper to state, that to the best of my recollection, they now appear nearly as they were originally composed in my solitary hours; when, in youth a wanderer among distant scenes, I sought forgetfulness of the first disappointment in early affections.

Delicacy even now, though the grave has long closed over the beloved object, would forbid entering on a detail of the peculiar circumstances in early life, and the anguish which occasioned these poetical meditations. In fact, I never thought of writing them down at the time, and many had escaped my recollection;[2] but three years after my return to England, on my way to the banks of Cherwell, where

"I bade the pipe farewell, and that sad lay
Whose music, on my melancholy way,
I wooed,"

passing through Bath, I wrote down all I could recollect of these effusions, most elaborately mending the versification from the natural flow of music in which they occurred to me, and having thus corrected and written them out, took them myself to the late Mr Cruttwell, with the name of "Fourteen Sonnets, written chiefly on Picturesque Spots during a Journey."

I had three times knocked at this amiable printer's door, whose kind smile I still recollect; and at last, with much hesitation, ventured to unfold my message; it was to inquire whether he would give any thing for "Fourteen Sonnets," to be published with or without the name.[3] He at once declined the purchase, and informed me he doubted very much whether the publication would repay the expense of printing, which would come to about five pounds. It was at last determined one hundred copies, in quarto, should be published[Pg 3] as a kind of "forlorn hope;" and these "Fourteen Sonnets" I left to their fate and thought no more of getting rich by poetry! In fact, I owed the most I ever owed at Oxford, at this time, namely, seventy pounds;[4] and knowing my father's large family and trying circumstances, and those of my poor mother, I shrunk from asking more money when I left home, and went back with a heavy heart to Oxford, under the conscious weight, that my poetic scheme failing, I had no means of paying Parsons, the mercer's, bill! This was the origin of the publication.

As this plain account is so connected with whatever may be my name in criticism and poetry, it is hoped it will be pardoned.

All thoughts of succeeding as a poet were now abandoned; but, half a year afterwards, I received a letter from the printer informing me that the hundred copies were all sold, adding, that if I had published five hundred copies, he had no doubt they would have been sold also.

This, in my then situation, my father now dead, and my mother a widow with seven children, and with a materially reduced income (from the loss of the rectories of Uphill and Brean in Somerset), was gratifying indeed; all my golden dreams of poetical success were renewed;—the number of the sonnets first published was increased, and five hundred copies, by the congratulating printer, with whose family I have lived in kindest amity from that hour, were recommended to issue from the press of the editor of the Bath Chronicle.

But this was not all, the five hundred copies were sold to great advantage, for it was against my will that five hundred copies should be printed, till the printer told me he would take the risk on himself, on the usual terms, at that time, of bookseller and author.

Soon afterwards, it was agreed that seven hundred and fifty copies should be printed, in a smaller and elegant size. I had received Coleridge's warm testimony; but soon after this third edition came out, my friend, Mr Cruttwell, the printer, wrote a letter saying that two young gentlemen, strangers, one a particularly handsome and pleasing youth, lately from Westminster School, and both literary and intelligent, spoke in high commendation of my volume, and if I recollect right, expressed a desire to have some poems printed in the same type and form. Who these young men were I knew not at the time, but the communication of the circumstance was to me most gratifying; and how much more gratifying, when, from one of them, after he himself had achieved the fame of one of the most virtuous and eloquent of the writers in his generation, I received a first visit at my parsonage in Wiltshire upwards of forty years afterwards! It was Robert Southey. We parted in my garden last year, when stealing time and sorrow had marked his still manly, but most interesting countenance.[5]—Therefore,[Pg 4]

TO

ROBERT SOUTHEY,

WHO HAS EXHIBITED IN HIS PROSE WORKS, AS IN HIS LIFE,

THE PURITY AND VIRTUES OF ADDISON AND LOCKE,

AND IN HIS POETRY THE IMAGINATION

AND SOUL OF SPENSER,

THESE POEMS,

WITH EVERY AFFECTIONATE PRAYER, ARE INSCRIBED

BY

HIS SINCERE FRIEND,

WILLIAM LISLE BOWLES.

[2] I confined myself to fourteen lines, because fourteen lines seemed best adapted to unity of sentiment. I thought nothing about the strict Italian model; the verses naturally flowed in unpremeditated harmony, as my ear directed, but the slightest inspection will prove they were far from being mere elegiac couplets. The subjects were chiefly from river scenery, and the reader will recollect what Sir Humphrey Davy has said on this subject so beautifully; it will be recollected, also, that they were published ten years before those of Mr Wordsworth on the river Duddon, Yarrow, et cet. There have been many claimants, among modern poets, for the laurel of the sonnet, but, in picturesque description, sentiment, and harmony, I know none superior to those of my friend the Rev. Charles Hoyle, on scenery in Scotland, the mountains of Ben Nevis, Loch Lomond, et cet.

[3] To account for the present variations, some remained as originally with their natural pauses, others for the press I thought it best to correct into verse less broken, and now, after fifty years, they are recorrected, and restored, I believe, more nearly to the original shape in which they were first meditated.

[4] I hoped by my Sonnets to pay this vast debt.

[5] His companion, Mr Lovel, died in youth.[Pg 5]


[Pg 6]

SONNETS, ETC.


[Pg 7]

SONNETS, ETC.

AT TYNEMOUTH PRIORY,[6]

AFTER A TEMPESTUOUS VOYAGE.

As slow I climb the cliff's ascending side,
Much musing on the track of terror past,
When o'er the dark wave rode the howling blast,
Pleased I look back, and view the tranquil tide
That laves the pebbled shore: and now the beam
Of evening smiles on the gray battlement,
And yon forsaken tower that time has rent:—
The lifted oar far off with transient gleam
Is touched, and hushed is all the billowy deep!
Soothed by the scene, thus on tired Nature's breast
A stillness slowly steals, and kindred rest;
While sea-sounds lull her, as she sinks to sleep,
Like melodies that mourn upon the lyre,
Waked by the breeze, and, as they mourn, expire!

[6] The remains of this monastery are situated on a lofty point, on the north side of the entrance into the river Tyne, about a mile and a half below North Shields. The rock on which the monastery stood rendered it visible at sea a long way off, in every direction, whence it presented itself as if exhorting the seamen in danger to make their vows, and promise masses and presents to the Virgin Mary and St Oswin for their deliverance.[Pg 8]


BAMBOROUGH CASTLE.[7]

Ye holy Towers that shade the wave-worn steep,
Long may ye rear your aged brows sublime,
Though, hurrying silent by, relentless Time
Assail you, and the winds of winter sweep
Round your dark battlements; for far from halls
Of Pride, here Charity hath fixed her seat,
Oft listening, tearful, when the tempests beat
With hollow bodings round your ancient walls;
And Pity, at the dark and stormy hour
Of midnight, when the moon is hid on high,
Keeps her lone watch upon the topmost tower,
And turns her ear to each expiring cry;
Blessed if her aid some fainting wretch may save,
And snatch him cold and speechless from the wave.

[7] This ancient castle, with its extensive domains, heretofore the property of the family of Forster, whose heiress married Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, is appropriated by the will of that pious prelate to many benevolent purposes; particularly to that of administering instant relief to such shipwrecked mariners as may happen to be cast upon this dangerous coast; for whose preservation and that of their vessels every possible assistance is contrived, and is at all times ready. The estate is in the hands of trustees appointed under the Bishop's will.


THE RIVER WAINSBECK.[8]

While slowly wanders thy sequestered stream,
Wainsbeck, the mossy-scattered rocks among,
In fancy's ear making a plaintive song
To the dark woods above, that waving seem
To bend o'er some enchanted spot, removed
From life's vain coil; I listen to the wind,
And think I hear meek Sorrow's plaint, reclined
O'er the forsaken tomb of him she loved!—[Pg 9]
Fair scenes, ye lend a pleasure, long unknown,
To him who passes weary on his way;—
Yet recreated here he may delay
A while to thank you; and when years have flown,
And haunts that charmed his youth he would renew,
In the world's crowd he will remember you.

[8] The Wainsbeck is a sequestered river in Northumberland, having on its banks "Our Lady's Chapel," three-quarters of a mile west of Bothal. It has been commemorated by Akenside.


THE TWEED VISITED.

O Tweed! a stranger, that with wandering feet
O'er hill and dale has journeyed many a mile,
(If so his weary thoughts he might beguile),
Delighted turns thy stranger-stream to greet.
The waving branches that romantic bend
O'er thy tall banks a soothing charm bestow;
The murmurs of thy wandering wave below
Seem like the converse of some long-lost friend.
Delightful stream! though now along thy shore,
When spring returns in all her wonted pride,
The distant pastoral pipe is heard no more;[9]
Yet here while laverocks sing could I abide,
Far from the stormy world's contentious roar,
To muse upon thy banks at eventide.

[9] Alluding to the simple and affecting pastoral strains for which Scotland has been so long celebrated. I need not mention Lochaber, the Braes of Bellendine, Tweedside, et cet.


ON LEAVING A VILLAGE IN SCOTLAND.

Clysdale! as thy romantic vales I leave,
And bid farewell to each retiring hill,
Where musing memory seems to linger still,
Tracing the broad bright landscape; much I grieve[Pg 10]
That, mingled with the toiling crowd, no more
I may return your varied views to mark,
Of rocks amid the sunshine towering dark,
Of rivers winding wild,[10] or mountains hoar,
Or castle gleaming on the distant steep!—
Yet many a look back on thy hills I cast,
And many a softened image of the past
Sadly combine, and bid remembrance keep,
To soothe me with fair scenes, and fancies rude,
When I pursue my path in solitude.

[10] There is a wildness almost fantastic in the view of the river from Stirling Castle, the course of which is seen for many miles, making a thousand turnings.


EVENING.

Evening! as slow thy placid shades descend,
Veiling with gentlest hush the landscape still,
The lonely, battlement, the farthest hill
And wood, I think of those who have no friend;
Who now, perhaps, by melancholy led,
From the broad blaze of day, where pleasure flaunts,
Retiring, wander to the ring-dove's haunts
Unseen; and watch the tints that o'er thy bed
Hang lovely; oft to musing Fancy's eye
Presenting fairy vales, where the tired mind
Might rest beyond the murmurs of mankind,
Nor hear the hourly moans of misery!
Alas for man! that Hope's fair views the while
Should smile like you, and perish as they smile![Pg 11]

TO THE RIVER ITCHIN.[11]

Itchin! when I behold thy banks again,
Thy crumbling margin, and thy silver breast,
On which the self-same tints still seem to rest,
Why feels my heart a shivering sense of pain!
Is it, that many a summer's day has past
Since, in life's morn, I carolled on thy side!
Is it, that oft since then my heart has sighed,
As Youth, and Hope's delusive gleams, flew fast!
Is it, that those who gathered on thy shore,
Companions of my youth, now meet no more!
Whate'er the cause, upon thy banks I bend,
Sorrowing; yet feel such solace at my heart,
As at the meeting of some long-lost friend,
From whom, in happier hours, we wept to part.

[11] The Itchin is a river running from Winchester to Southampton, the banks of which have been the scene of many a holiday sport. The lines were composed on an evening in a journey from Oxford to Southampton, the first time I had seen the Itchin since I left school.


ON RESIGNING A SCHOLARSHIP OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD,

AND RETIRING TO A COUNTRY CURACY.

Farewell! a long farewell! O Poverty,
Affection's fondest dream how hast thou reft!
But though, on thy stern brow no trace is left
Of youthful joys, that on the cold heart die,
With thee a sad companionship I seek,
Content, if poor;—for patient wretchedness,
Tearful, but uncomplaining of distress,
Who turns to the rude storm her faded cheek;
And Piety, who never told her wrong;
And calm Content, whose griefs no more rebel;[Pg 12]
And Genius, warbling sweet, his saddest song,
When evening listens to some village knell,—
Long banished from the world's insulting throng;—
With thee, and thy unfriended children dwell.

DOVER CLIFFS.

On these white cliffs, that calm above the flood
Uprear their shadowing heads, and at their feet
Hear not the surge that has for ages beat,
How many a lonely wanderer has stood!
And, whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o'er the distant billows the still eve
Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave
To-morrow; of the friends he loved most dear;
Of social scenes, from which he wept to part!
Oh! if, like me, he knew how fruitless all
The thoughts that would full fain the past recall,
Soon would he quell the risings of his heart,
And brave the wild winds and unhearing tide—
The World his country, and his God his guide.

ON LANDING AT OSTEND.

The orient beam illumes the parting oar;—
From yonder azure track, emerging white,
The earliest sail slow gains upon the sight,
And the blue wave comes rippling to the shore.
Meantime far off the rear of darkness flies:
Yet 'mid the beauties of the morn, unmoved,
Like one for ever torn from all he loved,
Back o'er the deep I turn my longing eyes,[Pg 13]
And chide the wayward passions that rebel:
Yet boots it not to think, or to complain,
Musing sad ditties to the reckless main.
To dreams like these, adieu! the pealing bell
Speaks of the hour that stays not—and the day
To life's sad turmoil calls my heart away.
1787.

THE BELLS, OSTEND.[12]

How sweet the tuneful bells' responsive peal!
As when, at opening morn, the fragrant breeze
Breathes on the trembling sense of pale disease,
So piercing to my heart their force I feel!
And hark! with lessening cadence now they fall!
And now, along the white and level tide,
They fling their melancholy music wide;
Bidding me many a tender thought recall
Of summer-days, and those delightful years
When from an ancient tower, in life's fair prime,
The mournful magic of their mingling chime
First waked my wondering childhood into tears!
But seeming now, when all those days are o'er,
The sounds of joy once heard, and heard no more.
1787.

[12] Written on landing at Ostend, and hearing, very early in the morning, the carillons.


THE RHINE.

'Twas morn, and beauteous on the mountain's brow
(Hung with the clusters of the bending vine)
Shone in the early light, when on the Rhine
We bounded, and the white waves round the prow[Pg 14]
In murmurs parted:—varying as we go,
Lo! the woods open, and the rocks retire,
As some gray convent-wall or glistening spire
'Mid the bright landscape's track unfolding slow!
Here dark, with furrowed aspect, like Despair,
Frowns the bleak cliff! There on the woodland's side
The shadowy sunshine pours its streaming tide;
Whilst Hope, enchanted with the scene so fair,
Counts not the hours of a long summer's day,
Nor heeds how fast the prospect winds away.

INFLUENCE OF TIME ON GRIEF.

O Time! who know'st a lenient hand to lay
Softest on Sorrow's wound, and slowly thence
(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense)
The faint pang stealest unperceived away;
On thee I rest my only hope at last,
And think, when thou hast dried the bitter tear
That flows in vain o'er all my soul held dear,
I may look back on every sorrow past,
And meet life's peaceful evening with a smile:—
As some lone bird, at day's departing hour,
Sings in the sunbeam, of the transient shower
Forgetful, though its wings are wet the while:—
Yet ah! how much must that poor heart endure,
Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure!

THE CONVENT.

If chance some pensive stranger, hither led,
His bosom glowing from majestic views,
Temple and tower 'mid the bright landscape's hues,
Should ask who sleeps beneath this lowly bed?[Pg 15]
A maid of sorrow. To the cloistered scene,
Unknown and beautiful a mourner came,
Seeking with unseen tears to quench the flame
Of hapless love: yet was her look serene
As the pale moonlight in the midnight aisle;—
Her voice was gentle and a charm could lend,
Like that which spoke of a departed friend;
And a meek sadness sat upon her smile!—
Now, far removed from every earthly ill,
Her woes are buried, and her heart is still.

THE RIVER CHERWELL.

Cherwell! how pleased along thy willowed edge
Erewhile I strayed, or when the morn began
To tinge the distant turret's golden fan,
Or evening glimmered o'er the sighing sedge!
And now reposing on thy banks once more,
I bid the lute farewell, and that sad lay
Whose music on my melancholy way
I wooed: beneath thy willows waving hoar,
Seeking a while to rest—till the bright sun
Of joy return; as when Heaven's radiant Bow
Beams on the night-storm's passing wings below:
Whate'er betide, yet something have I won
Of solace, that may bear me on serene,
Till eve's last hush shall close the silent scene.

ON ENTERING SWITZERLAND.

Languid, and sad, and slow, from day to day
I journey on, yet pensive turn to view,
Where the rich landscape gleams with softer hue,
The streams, and vales, and hills, that steal away.[Pg 16]
So fares it with the children of the earth:
For when life's goodly prospect opens round,
Their spirits burn to tread that fairy ground,
Where every vale sounds to the pipe of mirth.
But them, alas! the dream of youth beguiles,
And soon a longing look, like me, they cast
Back on the mountains of the morning past:
Yet Hope still beckons us, and beckoning smiles,
And to a brighter world her view extends,
When earth's long darkness on her path descends.

DISTANT VIEW OF ENGLAND FROM THE SEA.

Yes! from mine eyes the tears unbidden start,
As thee, my country, and the long-lost sight
Of thy own cliffs, that lift their summits white
Above the wave, once more my beating heart
With eager hope and filial transport hails!
Scenes of my youth, reviving gales ye bring,
As when erewhile the tuneful morn of spring
Joyous awoke amidst your hawthorn vales,
And filled with fragrance every village lane:
Fled are those hours, and all the joys they gave!
Yet still I gaze, and count each rising wave
That bears me nearer to my home again;
If haply, 'mid those woods and vales so fair,
Stranger to Peace, I yet may meet her there.

HOPE.

As one who, long by wasting sickness worn,
Weary has watched the lingering night, and heard
Unmoved the carol of the matin bird
Salute his lonely porch; now first at morn[Pg 17]
Goes forth, leaving his melancholy bed;
He the green slope and level meadow views,
Delightful bathed with slow-ascending dews;
Or marks the clouds, that o'er the mountain's head
In varying forms fantastic wander white;
Or turns his ear to every random song,
Heard the green river's winding marge along,
The whilst each sense is steeped in still delight.
So o'er my breast young Summer's breath I feel,
Sweet Hope! thy fragrance pure and healing incense steal!

TO A FRIEND.

Go, then, and join the murmuring city's throng!
Me thou dost leave to solitude and tears;
To busy phantasies, and boding fears,
Lest ill betide thee; but 'twill not be long
Ere the hard season shall be past; till then
Live happy; sometimes the forsaken shade
Remembering, and these trees now left to fade;
Nor, 'mid the busy scenes and hum of men,
Wilt thou my cares forget: in heaviness
To me the hours shall roll, weary and slow,
Till mournful autumn past, and all the snow
Of winter pale, the glad hour I shall bless
That shall restore thee from the crowd again,
To the green hamlet on the peaceful plain.
1792.

ABSENCE.

There is strange music in the stirring wind,
When lowers the autumnal eve, and all alone
To the dark wood's cold covert thou art gone,
Whose ancient trees on the rough slope reclined[Pg 18]
Rock, and at times scatter their tresses sere.
If in such shades, beneath their murmuring,
Thou late hast passed the happier hours of spring,
With sadness thou wilt mark the fading year;
Chiefly if one, with whom such sweets at morn
Or evening thou hast shared, afar shall stray.
O Spring, return! return, auspicious May!
But sad will be thy coming, and forlorn,
If she return not with thy cheering ray,
Who from these shades is gone, far, far away.

BEREAVEMENT.

Whose was that gentle voice, that, whispering sweet,
Promised methought long days of bliss sincere!
Soothing it stole on my deluded ear,
Most like soft music, that might sometimes cheat
Thoughts dark and drooping! 'Twas the voice of Hope.
Of love, and social scenes, it seemed to speak,
Of truth, of friendship, of affection meek;
That, oh! poor friend, might to life's downward slope
Lead us in peace, and bless our latest hours.
Ah me! the prospect saddened as she sung;
Loud on my startled ear the death-bell rung;
Chill darkness wrapt the pleasurable bowers,
Whilst Horror, pointing to yon breathless clay,
"No peace be thine," exclaimed, "away, away!"
1793.[Pg 19]

OXFORD REVISITED.

I never hear the sound of thy glad bells,
Oxford, and chime harmonious, but I say,
Sighing to think how time has worn away,
Some spirit speaks in the sweet tone that swells,
Heard after years of absence, from the vale
Where Cherwell winds. Most true it speaks the tale
Of days departed, and its voice recalls
Hours of delight and hope in the gay tide
Of life, and many friends now scattered wide
By many fates. Peace be within thy walls!
I have scarce heart to visit thee; but yet,
Denied the joys sought in thy shades,—denied
Each better hope, since my poor Harriet died,
What I have owed to thee, my heart can ne'er forget!

IN MEMORIAM.

How blessed with thee the path could I have trod
Of quiet life, above cold want's hard fate,
(And little wishing more) nor of the great
Envious, or their proud name; but it pleased God
To take thee to his mercy: thou didst go
In youth and beauty to thy cold death-bed;
Even whilst on dreams of bliss we fondly fed,
Of years to come of comfort! Be it so.
Ere this I have felt sorrow; and even now,
Though sometimes the unbidden tear will start,
And half unman the miserable heart,
The cold dew I shall wipe from my sad brow,
And say, since hopes of bliss on earth are vain,
Best friend, farewell, till we do meet again![Pg 20]

ON THE DEATH OF THE REV. WILLIAM BENWELL, M.A.[13]

Thou camest with kind looks, when on the brink
Almost of death I strove, and with mild voice
Didst soothe me, bidding my poor heart rejoice,
Though smitten sore: Oh, I did little think
That thou, my friend, wouldst the first victim fall
To the stern King of Terrors! Thou didst fly,
By pity prompted, at the poor man's cry;
And soon thyself were stretched beneath the pall,
Livid infection's prey. The deep distress
Of her, who best thy inmost bosom knew,
To whom thy faith was vowed; thy soul was true,
What powers of faltering language shall express?
As friendship bids, I feebly breathe my own,
And sorrowing say, Pure spirit, thou art gone!

[13] An accomplished young friend of the author—a poet and a scholar, formerly fellow of Trinity College, Oxford—who died of a typhus fever, caught in administering the sacrament to one of his parishioners. Mr Benwell had only been married eleven weeks when he died.


AT MALVERN.

I shall behold far off thy towering crest,
Proud mountain! from thy heights as slow I stray
Down through the distant vale my homeward way,
I shall behold upon thy rugged breast,
The parting sun sit smiling: me the while
Escaped the crowd, thoughts full of heaviness
May visit, as life's bitter losses press
Hard on my bosom; but I shall beguile[Pg 21]
The thing I am, and think, that ev'n as thou
Dost lift in the pale beam thy forehead high,
Proud mountain! whilst the scattered vapours fly
Unheeded round thy breast,—so, with calm brow,
The shades of sorrow I may meet, and wear
The smile unchanged of peace, though pressed by care!

NETLEY ABBEY.

Fall'n pile! I ask not what has been thy fate;
But when the winds, slow wafted from the main,
Through each rent arch, like spirits that complain,
Come hollow to my ear, I meditate
On this world's passing pageant, and the lot
Of those who once majestic in their prime
Stood smiling at decay, till bowed by time
Or injury, their early boast forgot,
They may have fall'n like thee! Pale and forlorn,
Their brow, besprent with thin hairs, white as snow,
They lift, still unsubdued, as they would scorn
This short-lived scene of vanity and woe;
Whilst on their sad looks smilingly they bear
The trace of creeping age, and the pale hue of care!

ASSOCIATIONS.

As o'er these hills I take my silent rounds,
Still on that vision which is flown I dwell,
On images I loved, alas, too well!
Now past, and but remembered like sweet sounds
Of yesterday! Yet in my breast I keep
Such recollections, painful though they seem,
And hours of joy retrace, till from my dream
I start, and find them not; then I could weep[Pg 22]
To think how Fortune blights the fairest flowers;
To think how soon life's first endearments fail,
And we are still misled by Hope's smooth tale,
Who, like a flatterer, when the happiest hours
Pass, and when most we call on her to stay,
Will fly, as faithless and as fleet as they!

MUSIC.

O harmony! thou tenderest nurse of pain,
If that thy note's sweet magic e'er can heal
Griefs which the patient spirit oft may feel,
Oh! let me listen to thy songs again;
Till memory her fairest tints shall bring;
Hope wake with brighter eye, and listening seem
With smiles to think on some delightful dream,
That waved o'er the charmed sense its gladsome wing!
For when thou leadest all thy soothing strains
More smooth along, the silent passions meet
In one suspended transport, sad and sweet;
And nought but sorrow's softest touch remains;
That, when the transitory charm is o'er,
Just wakes a tear, and then is felt no more.

APPROACH OF SUMMER.

How shall I meet thee, Summer, wont to fill
My heart with gladness, when thy pleasant tide
First came, and on the Coomb's romantic side
Was heard the distant cuckoo's hollow bill!
Fresh flowers shall fringe the margin of the stream,
As with the songs of joyance and of hope
The hedge-rows shall ring loud, and on the slope
The poplars sparkle in the passing beam;[Pg 23]
The shrubs and laurels that I loved to tend,
Thinking their May-tide fragrance would delight,
With many a peaceful charm, thee, my poor friend,
Shall put forth their green shoots, and cheer the sight!
But I shall mark their hues with sadder eyes,
And weep the more for one who in the cold earth lies!

AT OXFORD, 1786.

Bereave me not of Fancy's shadowy dreams,
Which won my heart, or when the gay career
Of life begun, or when at times a tear
Sat sad on memory's cheek—though loftier themes
Await the awakened mind to the high prize
Of wisdom, hardly earned with toil and pain,
Aspiring patient; yet on life's wide plain
Left fatherless, where many a wanderer sighs
Hourly, and oft our road is lone and long,
'Twere not a crime should we a while delay
Amid the sunny field; and happier they
Who, as they journey, woo the charm of song,
To cheer their way;—till they forget to weep,
And the tired sense is hushed, and sinks to sleep.

AT DOVER, 1786.

Thou, whose stern spirit loves the storm,
That, borne on Terror's desolating wings,
Shakes the high forest, or remorseless flings
The shivered surge; when rising griefs deform
Thy peaceful breast, hie to yon steep, and think,—
When thou dost mark the melancholy tide
Beneath thee, and the storm careering wide,—
Tossed on the surge of life how many sink![Pg 24]
And if thy cheek with one kind tear be wet,
And if thy heart be smitten, when the cry
Of danger and of death is heard more nigh,
Oh, learn thy private sorrows to forget;
Intent, when hardest beats the storm, to save
One who, like thee, has suffered from the wave.

RETROSPECTION.

I turn these leaves with thronging thoughts, and say,
Alas! how many friends of youth are dead;
How many visions of fair hope have fled,
Since first, my Muse, we met.—So speeds away
Life, and its shadows; yet we sit and sing,
Stretched in the noontide bower, as if the day
Declined not, and we yet might trill our lay
Beneath the pleasant morning's purple wing
That fans us; while aloft the gay clouds shine!
Oh, ere the coming of the long cold night,
Religion, may we bless thy purer light,
That still shall warm us, when the tints decline
O'er earth's dim hemisphere; and sad we gaze
On the vain visions of our passing days!

ON ACCIDENTALLY MEETING A LADY NOW NO MORE.

WRITTEN MANY YEARS AFTER THE FOREGOING SONNETS.

When last we parted, thou wert young and fair—
How beautiful let fond remembrance say!
Alas! since then old Time has stol'n away
Nigh forty years, leaving my temples bare:[Pg 25]
So hath it perished, like a thing of air,
That dream of love and youth:—we now are gray;
Yet still remembering youth's enchanted way,
Though time has changed my look, and blanched my hair,
Though I remember one sad hour with pain,
And never thought, long as I yet might live,
And parted long, to hear that voice again;—
I can a sad, but cordial greeting, give,
And for thy welfare breathe as warm a prayer,
Lady, as when I loved thee young and fair!

ON HEARING "THE MESSIAH"

PERFORMED IN GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL, SEPT. 18, 1835.

Oh, stay, harmonious and sweet sounds, that die
In the long vaultings of this ancient fane!
Stay, for I may not hear on earth again
Those pious airs—that glorious harmony;
Lifting the soul to brighter orbs on high,
Worlds without sin or sorrow!
Ah, the strain
Has died—ev'n the last sounds that lingeringly
Hung on the roof ere they expired!
And I,
Stand in the world of strife, amidst a throng,
A throng that recks not or of death, or sin!
Oh, jarring scenes! to cease, indeed, ere long;
The worm hears not the discord and the din;
But he whose heart thrills to this angel song,
Feels the pure joy of heaven on earth begin![Pg 26]

WOODSPRING ABBEY, 1836.[14]

These walls were built by men who did a deed
Of blood:—terrific conscience, day by day,
Followed, where'er their shadow seemed to stay,
And still in thought they saw their victim bleed,
Before God's altar shrieking: pangs succeed,
As dire upon their heart the deep sin lay,
No tears of agony could wash away:
Hence! to the land's remotest limit, speed!
These walls are raised in vain, as vainly flows
Contrition's tear: Earth, hide them, and thou, Sea,
Which round the lone isle, where their bones repose,
Dost sound for ever, their sad requiem be,
In fancy's ear, at pensive evening's close,
Still murmuring Miserere, Domine.

[14] Three mailed men, in Canterbury Cathedral, rushed on the Archbishop of Canterbury, and murdered him before the altar. Conscience-stricken, they fled and built Woodspring Abbey, in the remote corner of Somersetshire, near Western Super Mare, where the land looks on the Atlantic sea. There are three unknown graves on the Flat Holms.


LACOCK NUNNERY.

JUNE 24, 1837.

I stood upon the stone where Ela lay,
The widowed founder of these ancient walls,
Where fancy still on meek devotion calls,
Marking the ivied arch, and turret gray—
For her soul's rest—eternal rest—to pray;[15]
Where visionary nuns yet seem to tread,
A pale dim troop, the cloisters of the dead,
Though twice three hundred years have flown away![Pg 27]
But when, with silent step and pensive mien,
In weeds, as mourning for her sisters gone,
The mistress of this lone monastic scene
Came; and I heard her voice's tender tone,
I said, Though centuries have rolled between,
One gentle, beauteous nun is left, on earth, alone.

[15] "Eternam Requiem dona."


ON A BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE.

Beautiful landscape! I could look on thee
For hours, unmindful of the storm and strife,
And mingled murmurs of tumultuous life.
Here, all is still as fair; the stream, the tree,
The wood, the sunshine on the bank: no tear,
No thought of Time's swift wing, or closing night,
That comes to steal away the long sweet light—
No sighs of sad humanity are here.
Here is no tint of mortal change; the day,—
Beneath whose light the dog and peasant-boy
Gambol, with look, and almost bark, of joy,—
Still seems, though centuries have passed, to stay.
Then gaze again, that shadowed scenes may teach
Lessons of peace and love, beyond all speech.

ART AND NATURE.

THE BRIDGE BETWEEN CLIFTON AND LEIGH WOODS.

Frown ever opposite, the angel cried,
Who, with an earthquake's might and giant hand,
Severed these riven rocks, and bade them stand
Severed for ever! The vast ocean-tide,[Pg 28]
Leaving its roar without at his command,
Shrank, and beneath the woods through the green land
Went gently murmuring on, so to deride
The frowning barriers that its force defied!
But Art, high o'er the trailing smoke below
Of sea-bound steamer, on yon summit's head
Sat musing; and where scarce a wandering crow
Sailed o'er the chasm, in thought a highway led;
Conquering, as by an arrow from a bow,
The scene's lone Genius by her elfin-thread.
Clifton, 27th August 1836.

PICTURE OF AN OLD MAN.

Old man, I saw thee in thy garden chair
Sitting in silence 'mid the shrubs and trees
Of thy small cottage-croft, whilst murmuring bees
Went by, and almost touched thy temples bare,
Edged with a few flakes of the whitest hair.
And, soothed by the faint hum of ebbing seas,
And song of birds, and breath of the young breeze,
Thus didst thou sit, feeling the summer air
Blow gently;—with a sad still decadence,
Sinking to earth in hope, but all alone.
Oh! hast thou wept to feel the lonely sense
Of earthly loss, musing on voices gone!
Hush the vain murmur, that, without offence,
Thy head may rest in peace beneath the churchyard stone.[Pg 29]

PICTURE OF A YOUNG LADY.

When I was sitting, sad, and all alone,
Remembering youth and love for ever fled,
And many friends now resting with the dead,
While the still summer's light departing shone,
Like many sweet and silent summers gone;
Thou camest, as a vision, with a mien
And smile like those I once on earth had seen,
And with a voice of that remembered tone
Which I in other days, long since, had heard:
Like Peace approaching, when distempers fret
Most the tired spirit, thy fair form appeared;
And till I die, I never shall forget,—
For at thy footstep light, the gloom was cheered,—
Thy look and voice, oh! gentle Margaret.

HOUR-GLASS AND BIBLE.

Look, Christian, on thy Bible, and that glass
That sheds its sand through minutes, hours, and days,
And years; it speaks not, yet, methinks, it says,
To every human heart: so mortals pass
On to their dark and silent grave! Alas
For man! an exile upon earth he strays,
Weary, and wandering through benighted ways;
To-day in strength, to-morrow like the grass
That withers at his feet!—Lift up thy head,
Poor pilgrim, toiling in this vale of tears;
That book declares whose blood for thee was shed,
Who died to give thee life; and though thy years
Pass like a shade, pointing to thy death-bed,
Out of the deep thy cry an angel hears,
And by his guiding hand thy steps to heaven are led![Pg 30]

MILTON.

ON THE BUSTS OF MILTON, IN YOUTH AND AGE, AT STOURHEAD.

IN YOUTH.

Milton, our noblest poet, in the grace
Of youth, in those fair eyes and clustering hair,
That brow untouched by one faint line of care,
To mar its openness, we seem to trace
The front of the first lord of human race,
'Mid thine own Paradise portrayed so fair,
Ere Sin or Sorrow scathed it: such the air
That characters thy youth. Shall time efface
These lineaments as crowding cares assail!
It is the lot of fall'n humanity.
What boots it! armed in adamantine mail,
The unconquerable mind, and genius high,
Right onward hold their way through weal and woe,
Or whether life's brief lot be high or low!

IN AGE.

And art thou he, now "fall'n on evil days,"
And changed indeed! Yet what do this sunk cheek,
These thinner locks, and that calm forehead speak!
A spirit reckless of man's blame or praise,—
A spirit, when thine eyes to the noon's blaze
Their dark orbs roll in vain, in suffering meek,
As in the sight of God intent to seek,
'Mid solitude or age, or through the ways[Pg 31]
Of hard adversity, the approving look
Of its great Master; whilst the conscious pride
Of wisdom, patient and content to brook
All ills to that sole Master's task applied,
Shall show before high heaven the unaltered mind,
Milton, though thou art poor, and old, and blind!

TO SIR WALTER SCOTT.

ON ACCIDENTLY MEETING AND PARTING WITH SIR WALTER SCOTT, WHOM I HAD NOT SEEN FOR MANY YEARS, IN THE STREETS OF LONDON, MAY 1828.

Since last I saw that countenance so mild,
Slow-stealing age, and a faint line of care,
Had gently touched, methought, some features there;
Yet looked the man as placid as a child,
And the same voice,—whilst mingled with the throng,
Unknowing, and unknown, we passed along,—
That voice, a share of the brief time beguiled!
That voice I ne'er may hear again, I sighed
At parting,—wheresoe'er our various way,
In this great world,—but from the banks of Tweed,
As slowly sink the shades of eventide,
Oh! I shall hear the music of his reed,
Far off, and thinking of that voice, shall say,
A blessing rest upon thy locks of gray![Pg 32]

ELEGY WRITTEN AT THE HOTWELLS, BRISTOL,

JULY, 1789.

INSCRIBED TO THE REV. W. HOWLEY.[16]

The morning wakes in shadowy mantle gray, 1
The darksome woods their glimmering skirts unfold,
Prone from the cliff the falcon wheels her way,
And long and loud the bell's slow chime is tolled.
The reddening light gains fast upon the skies, 2
And far away the glistening vapours sail,
Down the rough steep the accustomed hedger hies,
And the stream winds in brightness through the vale.
Mark how those riven rocks on either shore 3
Uplift their bleak and furrowed fronts on high;
How proudly desolate their foreheads hoar,
That meet the earliest sunbeams of the sky!
Bound for yon dusky mart,[17] with pennants gay, 4
The tall bark, on the winding water's line,
Between the riven cliffs slow plies her way,
And peering on the sight the white sails shine.
Alas! for those by drooping sickness worn, 5
Who now come forth to meet the cheering ray;
And feel the fragrance of the tepid morn
Round their torn breasts and throbbing temples play![Pg 33][18]
Perhaps they muse with a desponding sigh 6
On the cold vault that shall their bones inurn;
Whilst every breeze seems, as it whispers by,
To breathe of comfort never to return.
Yet oft, as sadly thronging dreams arise, 7
Awhile forgetful of their pain they gaze,
A transient lustre lights their faded eyes,
And o'er their cheek the tender hectic plays.
The purple morn that paints with sidelong gleam 8
The cliff's tall crest, the waving woods that ring
With songs of birds rejoicing in the beam,
Touch soft the wakeful nerve's according string.
Then at sad Meditation's silent hour 9
A thousand wishes steal upon the heart;
And, whilst they meekly bend to Heaven's high power,
Ah! think 'tis hard, 'tis surely hard to part:
To part from every hope that brought delight, 10
From those that loved them, those they loved so much!
Then Fancy swells the picture on the sight,
And softens every scene at every touch.
Sweet as the mellowed woods beneath the moon, 11
Remembrance lends her soft-uniting shades;
"Some natural tears she drops, but wipes them soon:"—
The world retires, and its dim prospect fades!
Airs of delight, that soothe the aching sense; 12
Waters of health, that through yon caverns glide;
Oh! kindly yet your healing powers dispense,
And bring back feeble life's exhausted tide![Pg 34]
Perhaps to these gray rocks and mazy springs 13
Some heart may come, warmed with the purest fire;
For whom bright Fancy plumes her radiant wings,
And warbling Muses wake the lonely lyre.
Some orphan Maid, deceived in early youth, 14
Pale o'er yon spring may hang in mute distress;
Who dream of faith, of happiness, and truth,
Of love—that Virtue would protect and bless.
Some musing Youth in silence there may bend, 15
Untimely stricken by sharp Sorrow's dart;
For friendship formed, yet left without a friend,
And bearing still the arrow at his heart.
Such was lamented Russell's[19] early doom, 16
The gay companion of our stripling prime;
Ev'n so he sank unwept into the tomb,
And o'er his head closed the dark gulph of time.
Hither he came, a wan and weary guest, 17
A softening balm for many a wound to crave;
And wooed the sunshine to his aching breast,
Which now seems smiling on his verdant grave!
He heard the whispering winds that now I hear, 18
As, boding much, along these hills he passed;
Yet ah! how mournful did they meet his ear
On that sad morn he heard them for the last![Pg 35]
So sinks the scene, like a departed dream, 19
Since late we sojourned blythe in Wykeham's bowers,[20]
Or heard the merry bells by Isis' stream,
And thought our way was strewed with fairy flowers!
Of those with whom we played upon the lawn 20
Of early life, in the fresh morning played;
Alas! how many, since that vernal dawn,
Like thee, poor Russell, 'neath the turf are laid!
Joyous a while they wandered hand in hand, 21
By friendship led along the springtide plain;
How oft did Fancy wake her transports bland,
And on the lids the glistening tear detain!
I yet survive, now musing other song, 22
Than that which early pleased my vacant years;
Thinking how days and hours have passed along,
Marked by much pleasure some, and some by tears!
Thankful, that to these verdant scenes I owe 23
That he[21] whom late I saw all drooping pale,
Raised from the couch of sickness and of woe,
Now lives with me these mantling views to hail.
Thankful, that still the landscape beaming bright, 24
Of pendant mountain, or of woodland gray,
Can wake the wonted sense of pure delight,
And charm a while my solitary way.
Enough:—through the high heaven the proud sun rides, 25
My wandering steps their silent path pursue
Back to the crowded world where fortune guides:
Clifton, to thy white rocks and woods adieu!

[16] Afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.

[17] Bristol.

[18] From a latin prize poem, by W. Jackson—
"Et lacerum Pectus zephyri mulcere tepentes."

[19] The Rev. Thomas Russell, Fellow of New College, Oxford, author of some beautiful sonnets, died at the Hotwells 1788, in the twenty-sixth year of his age. His poems were first published by Mr Howley, with whom we wooed the Muses together on the banks of Itchen. Headley was a pupil of Dr Parr.

[20] Winchester College.

[21] The Rev. Dr Howley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.[Pg 36]


MONODY ON HENRY HEADLEY.

To every gentle Muse in vain allied,
In youth's full early morning Headley died!
Too long had sickness left her pining trace,
With slow, still touch, on each decaying grace:
Untimely sorrow marked his thoughtful mien!
Despair upon his languid smile was seen!
Yet Resignation, musing on the grave,
(When now no hope could cheer, no pity save),
And Virtue, that scarce felt its fate severe,
And pale Affection, dropping soft a tear 10
For friends beloved, from whom she soon must part,
Breathed a sad solace on his aching heart.
Nor ceased he yet to stray, where, winding wild,
The Muse's path his drooping steps beguiled,
Intent to rescue some neglected rhyme,
Lone-blooming, from the mournful waste of time;
And cull each scattered sweet, that seemed to smile
Like flowers upon some long-forsaken pile.[22]
Far from the murmuring crowd, unseen, he sought
Each charm congenial to his saddened thought. 20
When the gray morn illumed the mountain's side,
To hear the sweet birds' earliest song he hied;
When meekest eve to the fold's distant bell
Listened, and bade the woods and vales farewell,
Musing in tearful mood, he oft was seen
The last that lingered on the fading green.
The waving wood high o'er the cliff reclined,
The murmuring waterfall, the winter's wind,[Pg 37]
His temper's trembling texture seemed to suit;
As airs of sadness the responsive lute. 30
Yet deem not hence the social spirit dead,
Though from the world's hard gaze his feelings fled:
Firm was his friendship, and his faith sincere,
And warm as Pity's his unheeded tear,
That wept the ruthless deed, the poor man's fate,
By fortune's storms left cold and desolate.
Farewell! yet be this humble tribute paid
To all his virtues, from that social shade
Where once we sojourned.[23] I, alas! remain
To mourn the hours of youth, yet mourn in vain, 40
That fled neglected. Wisely thou hast trod
The better path; and that High Meed, which God
Ordained for Virtue towering from the dust,
Shall bless thy labours, spirit pure and just!

[22] Alluding to the Beauties of Ancient Poetry, published by Mr Headley, a short time before his death. He was also the author of some pleasing original poetry.

[23] Trinity College, Oxford. Among my contemporaries were several young men of literary taste and talent, Headley, Kett, Benwell, Dallaway, Richards, and Dornford; Thomas Warton was one of the Senior Fellows.


ON MR HOWARD'S ACCOUNT OF LAZARETTOS.

Mortal! who, armed with holy fortitude,
The path of good right onward hast pursued;
May He, to whose eternal throne on high
The sufferers of the earth with anguish cry,
Be thy protector! On that dreary road
That leads thee patient to the last abode
Of wretchedness, in peril and in pain,
May He thy steps direct, thy heart sustain![Pg 38]
'Mid scenes, where pestilence in darkness flies;
In caverns, where deserted misery lies; 10
So safe beneath His shadow thou may'st go,
To cheer the dismal wastes of human woe.
O Charity! our helpless nature's pride,
Thou friend to him who knows no friend beside,
Is there in morning's breath, or the sweet gale
That steals o'er the tired pilgrim of the vale,
Cheering with fragrance fresh his weary frame,
Aught like the incense of thy sacred flame?
Is aught in all the beauties that adorn
The azure heaven, or purple lights of morn; 20
Is aught so fair in evening's lingering gleam,
As from thine eye the meek and pensive beam
That falls like saddest moonlight on the hill
And distant grove, when the wide world is still!
Thine are the ample views, that unconfined
Stretch to the utmost walks of human kind:
Thine is the spirit that with widest plan
Brother to brother binds, and man to man.
But who for thee, O Charity! will bear
Hardship, and cope with peril and with care! 30
Who, for thy sake, will social sweets forego
For scenes of sickness, and the sights of woe!
Who, for thy sake, will seek the prison's gloom,
Where ghastly Guilt implores her lingering doom;
Where Penitence unpitied sits, and pale,
That never told to human ears her tale;
Where Agony, half-famished, cries in vain;
Where dark Despondence murmurs o'er her chain;
Where gaunt Disease is wasted to the bone,
And hollow-eyed Despair forgets to groan! 40
Approving Mercy marks the vast design,
And proudly cries—Howard, the task be thine![Pg 39]
Already 'mid the darksome vaults profound,
The inner prison deep beneath the ground,
Consoling hath thy tender look appeared:
In horror's realm the voice of peace is heard!
Be the sad scene disclosed; fearless unfold
The grating door—the inmost cell behold!
Thought shrinks from the dread sight; the paly lamp
Burns faint amid the infectious vapours damp; 50
Beneath its light full many a livid mien,
And haggard eye-ball, through the dusk are seen.
In thought I see thee, at each hollow sound,
With humid lids oft anxious gaze around.
But oh! for him who, to yon vault confined,
Has bid a long farewell to human kind;
His wasted form, his cold and bloodless cheek,
A tale of sadder sorrow seem to speak:
Of friends, perhaps now mingled with the dead;
Of hope, that, like a faithless flatterer, fled 60
In the utmost hour of need; or of a son
Cast to the bleak world's mercy; or of one
Whose heart was broken, when the stern behest
Tore him from pale affection's bleeding breast.
Despairing, from his cold and flinty bed,
With fearful muttering he has raised his head:
What pitying spirit, what unwonted guest,
Strays to this last retreat, these shades unblest?
From life and light shut out, beneath this cell
Long have I bid the cheering sun farewell. 70
I heard for ever closed the jealous door,
I marked my bed on the forsaken floor,
I had no hope on earth, no human friend:
Let me unpitied to the dust descend!
Cold is his frozen heart—his eye is reared
To Heaven no more—and on his sable beard[Pg 40]
The tear has ceased to fall. Thou canst not bring
Back to his mournful heart the morn of spring;—
Thou canst not bid the rose of health renew
Upon his wasted cheek its crimson hue; 80
But at thy look, (ere yet to hate resigned,
He murmurs his last curses on mankind),
At thy kind look one tender thought shall rise,
And his full soul shall thank thee ere he dies!
Oh ye, who list to Pleasure's vacant song,
As in her silken train ye troop along;
Who, like rank cowards, from affliction fly,
Or, whilst the precious hours of life pass by,
Lie slumbering in the sun! Awake, arise,
To these instructive pictures turn your eyes; 90
The awful view with other feelings scan,
And learn from Howard what man owes to man!
These, Virtue! are thy triumphs, that adorn
Fitliest our nature, and bespeak us born
For loftier action; not to gaze and run
From clime to clime; nor flutter in the sun,
Dragging a droning flight from flower to flower,
Like summer insects in a gaudy hour;
Nor yet o'er love-sick tales with fancy range,
And cry—'Tis pitiful, 'tis wondrous strange! 100
But on life's varied views to look around,
And raise expiring sorrow from the ground:—
And he who thus has borne his part assigned
In the sad fellowship of human kind,
Or for a moment soothed the bitter pain
Of a poor brother, has not lived in vain!
But 'tis not that Compassion should bestow
An unavailing tear on want or woe:
Lo! fairer Order rises from thy plan,
Befriending virtue, and adorning man.[Pg 41] 110
That Comfort cheers the dark abode of pain,
Where wan Disease prayed for relief in vain;
That Mercy soothes the hard behest of law;
That Misery smiles upon her bed of straw;
That the dark felon's clan no more, combined,
Murmur in murderous leagues against mankind;
That to each cell, a mild yet mournful guest,
Contrition comes, and calms the laboring breast,
Whilst long-forgotten tears of virtue flow;
Thou, generous friend of all—to thee we owe! 120
To thee, that Pity sees her views expand
To many a cheerless haunt, and distant land!
Whilst warm Philanthropy extends her ray,
Wide as the world, and general as the day!
Howard! I view those deeds, and think how vain
The triumphs of weak man, the feeble strain
That Flattery brings to Conquest's crimson car,
Amid the bannered host, and the proud tents of war!
From realm to realm the hideous War-fiend hies
Wide o'er the wasted earth; before him flies 130
Affright, on pinions fleeter than the wind;
Whilst Death and Desolation fast behind
The havoc of his echoing march pursue:
Meantime his steps are bathed in the warm dew
Of bloodshed, and of tears;—but his dread name
Shall perish—the loud clarion of his fame
One day shall cease, and, wrapt in hideous gloom,
Forgetfulness bestride his shapeless tomb!
But bear thou fearless on;—the God of all,
To whom the afflicted kneel, the friendless call, 140
From His high throne of mercy shall approve
The holy deeds of Mercy and of Love:
For when the vanities of life's brief day
Oblivion's hurrying wing shall sweep away,[Pg 42]
Each act by Charity and Mercy done,
High o'er the wrecks of time, shall live alone,
Immortal as the heavens, and beauteous bloom
To other worlds, and realms beyond the tomb.

THE GRAVE OF HOWARD.

Spirit of Death! whose outstretched pennons dread
Wave o'er the world beneath their shadow spread;
Who darkly speedest on thy destined way,
Midst shrieks and cries, and sounds of dire dismay;
Spirit! behold thy victory! Assume
A form more terrible, an ampler plume;
For he, who wandered o'er the world alone,
Listening to Misery's universal moan;
He who, sustained by Virtue's arm sublime,
Tended the sick and poor from clime to clime, 10
Low in the dust is laid, thy noblest spoil!
And Mercy ceases from her awful toil!
'Twas where the pestilence at thy command
Arose to desolate the sickening land,
When many a mingled cry and dying prayer
Resounded to the listening midnight air,
When deep dismay heard not the frequent knell,
And the wan carcase festered as it fell:
'Twas there, with holy Virtue's awful mien,
Amid the sad sights of that fearful scene, 20
Calm he was found: the dews of death he dried;
He spoke of comfort to the poor that cried;
He watched the fading eye, the flagging breath,
Ere yet the languid sense was lost in death;[Pg 43]
And with that look protecting angels wear,
Hung o'er the dismal couch of pale Despair!
Friend of mankind! thy righteous task is o'er;
The heart that throbbed with pity beats no more.
Around the limits of this rolling sphere,
Where'er the just and good thy tale shall hear, 30
A tear shall fall: alone, amidst the gloom
Of the still dungeon, his long sorrow's tomb,
The captive, mourning, o'er his chain shall bend,
To think the cold earth holds his only friend!
He who with labour draws his wasting breath
On the forsaken silent bed of death,
Remembering thy last look and anxious eye,
Shall gaze around, unvisited, and die.
Friend of mankind, farewell! These tears we shed—
So nature dictates—o'er thy earthly bed; 40
Yet we forget not, it was His high will,
Who saw thee Virtue's arduous task fulfil,
Thy spirit from its toil at last should rest:—
So wills thy God, and what He wills is best!
Thou hast encountered dark Disease's train,
Thou hast conversed with Poverty and Pain,
Thou hast beheld the dreariest forms of woe,
That through this mournful vale unfriended go;
And, pale with sympathy, hast paused to hear
The saddest plaints e'er told to human ear. 50
Go then, the task fulfilled, the trial o'er,
Where sickness, want, and pain are known no more!
How awful did thy lonely track appear,
Enlightening Misery's benighted sphere!
As when an angel all-serene goes forth
To still the raging tempest of the north,
The embattled clouds that hid the struggling day,
Slow from his face retire in dark array;[Pg 44]
On the black waves, like promontories hung,
A light, as of the orient morn, is flung, 60
Till blue and level heaves the silent brine,
And the new-lighted rocks at distance shine;
Ev'n so didst thou go forth with cheering eye—
Before thy glance the shades of misery fly;
So didst thou hush the tempest, stilling wide
Of human woe the loud-lamenting tide.
Nor shall the spirit of those deeds expire,
As fades the feeble spark of vital fire,
But beam abroad, and cheer with lustre mild
Humanity's remotest prospects wild, 70
Till this frail orb shall from its sphere be hurled,
Till final ruin hush the murmuring world,
And all its sorrows, at the awful blast
Of the archangel's trump, be but as shadows past!
Relentless Time, that steals with silent tread,
Shall tear away the trophies of the dead.
Fame, on the pyramid's aspiring top,
With sighs shall her recording trumpet drop;
The feeble characters of Glory's hand
Shall perish, like the tracks upon the sand; 80
But not with these expire the sacred flame
Of Virtue, or the good man's honoured name.
Howard! it matters not, that far away
From Albion's peaceful shore thy bones decay:
Him it might please, by whose sustaining hand
Thy steps were led through many a distant land.
Thy long and last abode should there be found,
Where many a savage nation prowls around:
That Virtue from the hallowed spot might rise,
And, pointing to the finished sacrifice, 90
Teach to the roving Tartar's savage clan
Lessons of love, and higher aims of man.[Pg 45]
The hoary chieftain, who thy tale shall hear,
Pale on thy grave shall drop his faltering spear;
The cold, unpitying Cossack thirst no more
To bathe his burning falchion deep in gore;
Relentless to the cry of carnage speed,
Or urge o'er gasping heaps his panting steed!
Nor vain the thought that fairer hence may rise
New views of life, and wider charities. 100
Far from the bleak Riphean mountains hoar,
From the cold Don, and Wolga's wandering shore,
From many a shady forest's lengthening tract,
From many a dark-descending cataract,
Succeeding tribes shall come, and o'er the place,
Where sleeps the general friend of human race,
Instruct their children what a debt they owe;
Speak of the man who trode the paths of woe;
Then bid them to their native woods depart,
With new-born virtue stirring in their heart. 110
When o'er the sounding Euxine's stormy tides
In hostile pomp the Turk's proud navy rides,
Bent on the frontiers of the Imperial Czar,
To pour the tempest of vindictive war;
If onward to those shores they haply steer,
Where, Howard, thy cold dust reposes near,
Whilst o'er the wave the silken pennants stream,
And seen far off the golden crescents gleam,
Amid the pomp of war, the swelling breast
Shall feel a still unwonted awe impressed, 120
And the relenting Pagan turn aside
To think—on yonder shore the Christian died!
But thou, O Briton! doomed perhaps to roam
An exile many a year and far from home,
If ever fortune thy lone footsteps leads
To the wild Nieper's banks, and whispering reeds,[Pg 46]
O'er Howard's grave thou shalt impassioned bend,
As if to hold sad converse with a friend.
Whate'er thy fate upon this various scene,
Where'er thy weary pilgrimage hath been, 130
There shalt thou pause; and shutting from thy heart
Some vain regrets that oft unbidden start,
Think upon him to every lot resigned,
Who wept, who toiled, and perished for mankind.
For me, who musing, Howard, on thy fate,
These pensive strains at evening meditate,
I thank thee for the lessons thou hast taught
To mend my heart, or animate my thought.
I thank thee, Howard, for that awful view
Of life which thou hast drawn, most sad, most true. 140
Thou art no more! and the frail fading bloom
Of this poor offering dies upon thy tomb.
Beyond the transient sound of earthly praise
Thy virtues live, perhaps, in seraph's lays!
I, borne in thought, to the wild Nieper's wave,
Sigh to the reeds that whisper o'er thy grave.[24]

[24] The town of Cherson, on the Black Sea, where Howard the philanthropist died, is entirely supplied with fuel by reeds, of which there is an inexhaustible forest in the shallows of the Nieper.—Craven's Travels.


SHAKSPEARE.

O sovereign Master! who with lonely state 1
Dost rule as in some isle's enchanted land,
On whom soft airs and shadowy spirits wait,
Whilst scenes of "faerie" bloom at thy command,
On thy wild shores forgetful could I lie,
And list, till earth dissolved to thy sweet minstrelsy![Pg 47]
Called by thy magic from the hoary deep, 2
Aërial forms should in bright troops ascend,
And then a wondrous masque before me sweep;
Whilst sounds, that the earth owned not, seem to blend
Their stealing melodies, that when the strain
Ceased, I should weep, and would so dream again!
The song hath ceased. Ah! who, pale shade, art thou, 3
Sad raving to the rude tempestuous night!
Sure thou hast had much wrong, so stern thy brow,
So piteous thou dost tear thy tresses white;
So wildly thou dost cry, Blow, bitter wind!
Ye elements, I call not you unkind![25]
Beneath the shade of nodding branches gray, 4
'Mid rude romantic woods, and glens forlorn,
The merry hunters wear the hours away;
Rings the deep forest to the joyous horn!
Joyous to all, but him,[26] who with sad look
Hangs idly musing by the brawling brook.
But mark the merry elves of fairy land![27] 5
To the high moon's gleamy glance,
They with shadowy morrice dance;
Soft music dies along the desert sand;
Soon at peep of cold-eyed day,
Soon the numerous lights decay;
Merrily, now merrily,
After the dewy moon they fly.
The charm is wrought: I see an aged form, 6
In white robes, on the winding sea-shore stand;
O'er the careering surge he waves his wand:
Hark! on the bleak rock bursts the swelling storm:[Pg 48]
Now from bright opening clouds I hear a lay,
Come to these yellow sands, fair stranger,[28] come away!
Saw ye pass by the weird sisters pale![29] 7
Marked ye the lowering castle on the heath!
Hark, hark, is the deed done—the deed of death!
The deed is done:—Hail, king of Scotland, hail!
I see no more;—to many a fearful sound
The bloody cauldron sinks, and all is dark around.
Pity! touch the trembling strings, 8
A maid, a beauteous maniac, wildly sings:
They laid him in the ground so cold,[30]
Upon his breast the earth is thrown;
High is heaped the grassy mould,
Oh! he is dead and gone.
The winds of the winter blow o'er his cold breast,
But pleasant shall be his rest.
O sovereign Master! at whose sole command 9
We start with terror, or with pity weep;
Oh! where is now thy all-creating wand;
Buried ten thousand thousand fathoms deep!
The staff is broke, the powerful spell is fled,
And never earthly guest shall in thy circle tread.

[25] Lear.

[26] Jaques: As You Like It.

[27] Midsummer Night's Dream.

[28] Ferdinand: see The Tempest.

[29] See Macbeth.

[30] Ophelia: Hamlet.[Pg 49]


ABBA THULE'S LAMENT FOR HIS SON PRINCE LE BOO.

I climb the highest cliff; I hear the sound
Of dashing waves; I gaze intent around;
I mark the gray cope, and the hollowness
Of heaven, and the great sun, that comes to bless
The isles again; but my long-straining eye,
No speck, no shadow can, far off, descry,
That I might weep tears of delight, and say,
It is the bark that bore my child away!
Sun, that returnest bright, beneath whose eye
The worlds unknown, and out-stretched waters lie, 10
Dost thou behold him now! On some rude shore,
Around whose crags the cheerless billows roar,
Watching the unwearied surges doth he stand,
And think upon his father's distant land!
Or has his heart forgot, so far away,
These native woods, these rocks, and torrents gray,
The tall bananas whispering to the breeze,
The shores, the sound of these encircling seas,
Heard from his infant days, and the piled heap
Of holy stones, where his forefathers sleep! 20
Ah, me! till sunk by sorrow, I shall dwell
With them forgetful in the narrow cell,
Never shall time from my fond heart efface
His image; oft his shadow I shall trace
Upon the glimmering waters, when on high
The white moon wanders through the cloudless sky.
Oft in my silent cave, when to its fire
From the night's rushing tempest we retire,
I shall behold his form, his aspect bland;
I shall retrace his footsteps on the sand;[Pg 50] 30
And, when the hollow-sounding surges swell,
Still think I listen to his echoing shell.
Would I had perished ere that hapless day,
When the tall vessel, in its trim array,
First rushed upon the sounding surge, and bore
My age's comfort from this sheltering shore!
I saw it spread its white wings to the wind,
Too soon it left these hills and woods behind,
Gazing, its course I followed till mine eye
No longer could its distant track descry; 40
Till on the confines of the billows hoar
A while it hung, and then was seen no more,
And only the blue hollow cope I spied,
And the long waste of waters tossing wide.
More mournful then each falling surge I heard,
Then dropt the stagnant tear upon my beard.
Methought the wild waves said, amidst their roar
At midnight, Thou shalt see thy son no more!
Now thrice twelve moons through the mid heavens have rolled
And many a dawn, and slow night, have I told: 50
And still as every weary day goes by,
A knot recording on my line I tie;[31]
But never more, emerging from the main,
I see the stranger's bark approach again.
Has the fell storm o'erwhelmed him! Has its sweep
Buried the bounding vessel in the deep![Pg 51]
Is he cast bleeding on some desert plain!
Upon his father did he call in vain!
Have pitiless and bloody tribes defiled
The cold limbs of my brave, my beauteous child! 60
Oh! I shall never, never hear his voice;
The spring-time shall return, the isles rejoice,
But faint and weary I shall meet the morn,
And 'mid the cheering sunshine droop forlorn!
The joyous conch sounds in the high wood loud,
O'er all the beach now stream the busy crowd;
Fresh breezes stir the waving plantain grove;
The fisher carols in the winding cove;
And light canoes along the lucid tide
With painted shells and sparkling paddles glide. 70
I linger on the desert rock alone,
Heartless, and cry for thee, my son, my son.

[31] I find on referring to the narrative of Captain Wilson's voyage to the Pelew Islands, that the knots were tied at the time of Prince Le Boo's departure, and that one was untied every moon by the disconsolate father.

The evening before the "Oroolong" sailed, the King asked Captain Wilson how long it might be before his return to Pelew; and being told that it would probably be about thirty moons, or might chance to extend to six more, Abba Thule drew from his basket a piece of line, and after making thirty knots on it, a little distance from each other, left a long space, and then adding six others, carefully put it by.


SOUTHAMPTON WATER.

Smooth went our boat upon the summer seas,
Leaving, for so it seemed, the world behind,
Its sounds of mingled uproar: we, reclined
Upon the sunny deck, heard but the breeze
That o'er us whispering passed, or idly played
With the lithe flag aloft. A woodland scene
On either side drew its slope line of green,
And hung the water's shining edge with shade.
Above the woods, Netley! thy ruins pale
Peered as we passed; and Vecta's[32] azure hue 10
Beyond the misty castle[33] met our view;
Where in mid channel hung the scarce seen sail.[Pg 52]
So all was calm and sunshine as we went
Cheerily o'er the briny element.
Oh! were this little boat to us the world,
As thus we wandered far from sounds of care,
Circled by friends and gentle maidens fair,
Whilst morning airs the waving pennant curled;
How sweet were life's long voyage, till in peace
We gained that haven still, where all things cease!20

[32] Isle of Wight.

[33] Kelshot Castle.


THE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY.[34]

INSCRIBED TO THE DUKE OF LEEDS.

When Want, with wasted mien and haggard eye,
Retires in silence to her cell to die;
When o'er her child she hangs with speechless dread,
Faint and despairing of to-morrow's bread;
Who shall approach to bid the conflict cease,
And to her parting spirit whisper peace!
Who thee, poor infant, that with aspect bland
Dost stretch forth innocent thy helpless hand,
Shall pitying then protect, when thou art thrown
On the world's waste, unfriended and alone! 10
O hapless Infancy! if aught could move
The hardest heart to pity and to love
'Twere surely found in thee: dim passions mark
Stern manhood's brow, where age impresses dark
The stealing line of sorrow; but thine eye
Wears not distrust, or grief, or perfidy.[Pg 53]
Though fortune's storms with dismal shadow lower,
Thy heart nor fears, nor feels the bitter shower;
Thy tear is soon forgotten; thou wilt weep,
And then the murmuring winds will hush thy sleep, 20
As 'twere with some sad music;—and thy smiles,
Unlike to those that cover cruel wiles,
Plead best thy speechless innocence, and lend
A charm might win the world to be thy friend.
But thou art oft abandoned in thy smiles,
And early vice thy easy heart beguiles.
Oh for some voice, that of the secret maze
Where the grim passions lurk, the winding ways
That lead to sin, and ruth, and deep lament,
Might haply warn thee, whilst yet innocent 30
And beauteous as the spring-time o'er the hills
Advancing, when each vale glad music fills!
Else lost and wandering, the benighted mind
No spot of rest again shall ever find;
Then the sweet smiles, that erst enchanting laid
Their magic beauty on thy look, shall fade;
Then the bird's warbled song no more shall cheer
With morning music thy delighted ear;
Fell thoughts and muttering passions shall awake,
And the fair rose the sullied cheek forsake! 40
As when still Autumn's gradual gloom is laid
Far o'er the fading forest's saddened shade,
A mournful gleam illumines the cold hill,
Yet palely wandering o'er the distant rill;
But when the hollow gust, slow rising, raves,
And high the pine on yon lone summit waves,
Each milder charm, like pictures of a dream,
Hath perished, mute the birds, and dark the stream!
Scuds the dreer sleet upon the whirlwind borne,
And scowls the landscape clouded and forlorn![Pg 54] 50
So fades, so perishes frail Virtue's hue;
Her last and lingering smile seems but to rue,
Like autumn, every summer beauty reft,
Till all is dark and to the winter left.
Yet spring, with living touch, shall paint again
The green-leaved forest, and the purple plain;
With mingling melody the woods shall ring,
The whispering breeze its long-lost incense fling:
But, Innocence! when once thy tender flower
The sickly taint has touched, where is the power 60
That shall bring back its fragrance, or restore
The tints of loveliness, that shine no more?
How then for thee, who pinest in life's gloom,
Abandoned child! can hope or virtue bloom!
For thee, exposed amid the desert drear,
Which no glad gales or vernal sunbeams cheer!
Though some there are, who lift their head sublime,
Nor heed the transient storms of fate or time;
Too oft, alas! beneath unfriendly skies,
The tender blossom shrinks its leaves, and dies! 70
Go, struggle with thy fate, pursue thy way;—
Though thou art poor, the world around is gay!
Thou hast no bread; but on thy aching sight
Proud luxury's pavilions glitter bright;
In thy cold ear the song of gladness swells,
Whilst vacant folly chimes her tinkling bells:
The careless crowd prolong their hollow glee,
Nor one relenting bosom thinks of thee.
Will not the indignant spirit then rebel,
And the dark tide of passions fearful swell! 80
Will not despight, perhaps, or bitter need,
Urge then thy temper to some direful deed!
Pale Guilt shall call thee to her ghastly band,
Or Murder welcome thee with reeking hand![Pg 55]
O wretched state, where our best feelings lie
Deep sunk in sullen, hopeless apathy!
Or wakeful cares, or gloomy terrors start,
And night and tempest mingle in the heart!
All mournful to the pensive sage's eye,
The monuments of human glory lie; 90
Fall'n palaces, crushed by the ruthless haste
Of time, and many an empire's silent waste,
Where, 'midst the vale of long-departed years,
The form of desolation dim appears,
Pointing to the wild plain with ruin spread,
The wrecks of age, and records of the dead!
But where a sight shall shuddering sorrow find,
Sad as the ruins of the human mind;—
As Man, by his Great Maker raised sublime
Amid the universe, ordained to climb 100
The arduous height where Virtue sits serene;—
As Man, the high lord of this nether scene,
So fall'n, so lost!—his noblest boast destroyed,
His sweet affections left a piteous void!
But oh, sweet Charity! what sounds were those
That met the listening ear, soft as the close
Of distant music, when the hum of day
Is hushed, and dying gales the airs convey!
Come, hapless orphans, meek Compassion cried,
Where'er, unsheltered outcasts! ye abide 110
The bitter driving wind, the freezing sky,
The oppressor's scourge, the proud man's contumely;
Come, hapless orphans! ye who never saw
A tear of kindness shed on your cold straw;
Who never met with joy the morning light,
Or lisped your little prayer of peace at night;
Come, hapless orphans! nor, when youth should spring
Soaring aloft, as on an eagle's wing,[Pg 56]
Shall ye forsaken on the ground be left,
Of hope, of virtue, and of peace bereft! 120
Far from the springtide gale, and joyous day,
In the deep caverns of Despair ye lay:
She, iron-hearted mother, never pressed
Your wasted forms with transport to her breast;
When none o'er all the world your 'plaint would hear,
She never kissed away the falling tear,
Or fondly smiled, forgetful, to behold
Some infant grace its early charm unfold.
She ne'er with mingling hopes and rising fears,
Sighed for the fortune of your future years: 130
Or saw you hand in hand rejoicing stray
Beneath the morning sun, on youth's delightful way.
But happier scenes invite, and fairer skies;
From your dark bed, children of woe, arise!
In caves where peace ne'er smiled, where joy ne'er came,
Where Friendship's eye ne'er glistened at the name
Of one she loved, where famine and despair
Sat silent 'mid the damp and lurid air,
The soothing voice is heard; a beam of light
Is cast upon their features, sunk and white; 140
With trembling joy they catch the stealing sound;
Their famished little ones come smiling round.
Sweet Infancy! whom all the world forsook,
Thou hast put on again thy cherub look:
Guilt, shrinking at the sight, in deep dismay
Flies cowering, and resigns his wonted prey.
But who is she, in garb of misery clad,
Yet of less vulgar mien? A look so sad
The mourning maniac wears, so wild, yet meek;
A beam of joy now wanders o'er her cheek, 150
The pale eye visiting; it leaves it soon,
As fade the dewy glances of the moon[Pg 57]
Upon some wandering cloud, while slow the ray
Retires, and leaves more dark the heaven's wide way.
Lost mother, early doomed to guilt and shame,
Whose friends of youth now sigh not o'er thy name,
Heavy has sorrow fall'n upon thy head,
Yet think—one hope remains when thou art dead;
Thy houseless child, thy only little one,
Shall not look round, defenceless and alone, 160
For one to guide her youth;—nor with dismay
Each stranger's cold unfeeling look survey.
She shall not now be left a prey to shame,
Whilst slow disease preys on her faded frame;
Nor, when the bloom of innocence is fled,
Thus fainting bow her unprotected head.
Oh, she shall live, and Piety and Truth,
The loveliest ornaments, shall grace her youth.
And should her eye with softest lustre shine,
And should she wear such smiles as once were thine, 170
The smiles of peace and virtue they shall prove,
Blessing the calm abode of faithful love.
For ye[35] who thus, by pure compassion taught,
Have wept o'er human sorrows;—who have sought
Want's dismal cell, and pale as from the dead
To life and light the speechless orphan led;—
Trust that the deed, in Mercy's book enrolled,
Approving spirits of the just behold!
Meanwhile, new virtues here, as on the wing
Of morn, from Sorrow's dreary shades shall spring; 180
Young Modesty, with fair untainted bloom;
And Industry, that sings beside her loom;
And ruddy Labour, issuing from his hatch
Ere the slant sunbeam strikes the lowly thatch;[Pg 58]
And sweet Contentment, smiling on a rock,
Like a fair shepherdess beside her flock;
And tender Love, that hastes with myrtle-braid
To bind the tresses of the favoured maid;
And Piety, with unclasped holy book,
Lifting to heaven her mildly-beaming look: 190
These village virtues on the plain shall throng,
And Albion's hills resound a cheerful song;
Whilst Charity, with dewy eyelids bland,
Leading a lisping infant in her hand,
Shall bend at pure Religion's holy shrine,
And say, These children, God of Love, are thine!

[34] The Philanthropic Society was instituted in September 1788, for the prevention of crimes, by seeking out and training up to virtue and industry the children of the most abject and criminal among the vagrant and profligate poor; by these means more effectually to alleviate human misery, and to oppose the progress of vice.

[35] The promoters of the charity.


THE DYING SLAVE.

Faint-gazing on the burning orb of day,
When Afric's injured son expiring lay,
His forehead cold, his labouring bosom bare,
His dewy temples, and his sable hair,
His poor companions kissed, and cried aloud,
Rejoicing, whilst his head in peace he bowed:—
Now thy long, long task is done,
Swiftly, brother, wilt thou run,
Ere to-morrow's golden beam
Glitter on thy parent stream, 10
Swiftly the delights to share,
The feast of joy that waits thee there.
Swiftly, brother, wilt thou ride
O'er the long and stormy tide,
Fleeter than the hurricane,
Till thou see'st those scenes again,
Where thy father's hut was reared,
Where thy mother's voice was heard;[Pg 59]
Where thy infant brothers played
Beneath the fragrant citron shade; 20
Where through green savannahs wide
Cooling rivers silent glide,
Or the shrill cicalas sing
Ceaseless to their murmuring;
Where the dance, the festive song,
Of many a friend divided long,
Doomed through stranger lands to roam,
Shall bid thy spirit welcome home!
Fearless o'er the foaming tide
Again thy light canoe shall ride; 30
Fearless on the embattled plain
Thou shalt lift thy lance again;
Or, starting at the call of morn,
Wake the wild woods with thy horn;
Or, rushing down the mountain-slope,
O'ertake the nimble antelope;
Or lead the dance, 'mid blissful bands,
On cool Andracte's yellow sands;
Or, in the embowering orange-grove,
Tell to thy long-forsaken love 40
The wounds, the agony severe,
Thy patient spirit suffered here!
Fear not now the tyrant's power,
Past is his insulting hour;
Mark no more the sullen trait
On slavery's brow of scorn and hate;
Hear no more the long sigh borne
Murmuring on the gales of morn!
Go in peace; yet we remain
Far distant toiling on in pain; 50
Ere the great Sun fire the skies
To our work of woe we rise;[Pg 60]
And see each night, without a friend,
The world's great comforter descend!
Tell our brethren, where ye meet,
Thus we toil with weary feet;
Yet tell them that Love's generous flame,
In joy, in wretchedness the same,
In distant worlds was ne'er forgot;
And tell them that we murmur not; 60
Tell them, though the pang will start,
And drain the life-blood from the heart,—
Tell them, generous shame forbids
The tear to stain our burning lids!
Tell them, in weariness and want,
For our native hills we pant,
Where soon, from shame and sorrow free,
We hope in death to follow thee!

SONG OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN.

Stranger, stay, nor wish to climb
The heights of yonder hills sublime;
For there strange shapes and spirits dwell,[36]
That oft the murmuring thunders swell,
Of power from the impending steep
To hurl thee headlong to the deep;
But secure with us abide,
By the winding river's side;
Our gladsome toil, our pleasures share,
And think not of a world of care. 10
The lonely cayman,[37] where he feeds
Among the green high-bending reeds,[Pg 61]
Shall yield thee pastime; thy keen dart
Through his bright scales shall pierce his heart.
Home returning from our toils,
Thou shalt bear the tiger's spoils;
And we will sing our loudest strain
O'er the forest-tyrant slain!
Sometimes thou shalt pause to hear
The beauteous cardinal sing clear; 20
Where hoary oaks, by time decayed,
Nod in the deep wood's pathless glade;
And the sun, with bursting ray,
Quivers on the branches gray.
By the river's craggy banks,
O'erhung with stately cypress-ranks,
Where the bush-bee[38] hums his song,
Thy trim canoe shall glance along.
To-night at least, in this retreat,
Stranger! rest thy wandering feet; 30
To-morrow, with unerring bow,
To the deep thickets fearless we will go.

[36] The Indians believe some of their high mountains to be inhabited by supernatural beings.

[37] The alligator.

[38] The bush-bee lives on shrubs and low trees.


MONODY, WRITTEN AT MATLOCK.

Matlock! amid thy hoary-hanging views,
Thy glens that smile sequestered, and thy nooks
Which yon forsaken crag all dark o'erlooks;
Once more I court the long neglected Muse,
As erst when by the mossy brink and falls
Of solitary Wainsbeck, or the side
Of Clysdale's cliffs, where first her voice she tried,
I strayed a pensive boy. Since then, the thralls
That wait life's upland road have chilled her breast,[Pg 62]
And much, as much they might, her wing depressed. 10
Wan Indolence, resigned, her deadening hand
Laid on her heart, and Fancy her cold wand
Dropped at the frown of fortune; yet once more
I call her, and once more her converse sweet,
'Mid the still limits of this wild retreat,
I woo;—if yet delightful as of yore
My heart she may revisit, nor deny
The soothing aid of some sweet melody!
I hail the rugged scene that bursts around;
I mark the wreathed roots, the saplings gray, 20
That bend o'er the dark Derwent's wandering way;
I mark its stream with peace-persuading sound,
That steals beneath the fading foliage pale,
Or, at the foot of frowning crags upreared,
Complains like one forsaken and unheard.
To me, it seems to tell the pensive tale
Of spring-time, and the summer days all flown;
And while sad autumn's voice ev'n now I hear
Along the umbrage of the high-wood moan,
At intervals, whose shivering leaves fall sere; 30
Whilst o'er the group of pendant groves I view
The slowly-spreading tints of pining hue,
I think of poor Humanity's brief day,
How fast its blossoms fade, its summers speed away!
When first young Hope, a golden-tressed boy,[39]
Most musical his early madrigal
Sings to the whispering waters as they fall,
Breathing fresh airs of fragrance and of joy,
The wild woods gently wave, the morning sheds
Her rising radiance on the mountain heads, 40
Strewed with green isles appears old ocean's reign,
And seen at distance rays of resting light[Pg 63]
Silver the farthest promontory's height:
Then hushed is the long murmur of the main,
Whilst silent o'er the slowly-crisping tides,
Bound to some beaming spot, the bark of pleasure glides.
Alas! the scenes that smile in light arrayed
But catch the sense, and then in darkness fade.
We, poor adventurers, of peace bereft,
Look back on the green hills that late we left, 50
Or turn, with beating breast and anxious eye,
To some faint hope that glimmering meets our sight
(Like the lone watch-tower in the storm of night),
Then on the dismal waste are driv'n despairing by!
Meantime, amid the landscape cold and mute,
Hope, sweet enchanter, sighing drops his lute:
So sad decay and mortal change succeeds,
And o'er the silent scene Time, like a giant, speeds!
Yet the bleak cliffs that lift their heads so high
(Around whose beetling crags, with ceaseless coil, 60
And still-returning flight, the ravens toil)
Heed not the changeful seasons as they fly,
Nor spring, nor autumn: they their hoary brow
Uprear, and ages past, as in this now,
The same deep trenches unsubdued have worn,
The same majestic frown, and looks of lofty scorn.
So Fortitude, a mailed warrior old,
Appears; he lifts his scar-intrenched crest;
The tempest gathers round his dauntless breast;
He hears far off the storm of havoc rolled; 70
The feeble fall around: their sound is past;
Their sun is set, their place no more is known;
Like the wan leaves before the winter's blast
They perish:—He, unshaken and alone
Remains, his brow a sterner shade assumes,
By age ennobled, whilst the hurricane,[Pg 64]
That raves resistless o'er the ravaged plain,
But shakes unfelt his helmet's quivering plume.
And so yon sovereign of the scene[40] I mark
Above the woods rear his majestic head, 80
That soon all shattered at his feet shall shed
Their short-lived beauties: he the winter dark
Regardless, and the wasteful time that flies,
Rejoicing in his lonely might, defies.
Thee, wandering in the deep and craggy dell,
Sequestered stream, with other thoughts I view:
Thou dost in solitude thy course pursue,
As thou hadst bid life's busy scenes farewell,
Yet making still such music as might cheer
The weary passenger that journeys near. 90
Such are the songs of Peace in Virtue's shade;
Unheard of Folly, or the vacant train
That pipe and dance upon the noontide plain,
Till in the dust together they are laid!
But not unheard of Him, who sits sublime
Above the clouds of this tempestuous clime,
Its stir and strife; to whom more grateful rise
The humble incense, and the still small voice
Of those that on their pensive way rejoice,
Than shouts of thousands echoing to the skies; 100
Than songs of conquest pealing round the car
Of hard Ambition, or the Fiend of War,
Sated with slaughter. Nor may I, sweet stream,
From thy wild banks and still retreats depart,
Where now I meditate my casual theme,
Without some mild improvement on my heart
Poured sad, yet pleasing! so may I forget
The crosses and the cares that sometimes fret[Pg 65]
Life's smoothest channel, and each wish prevent
That mars the silent current of content! 110
In such a spot, amidst these rugged views,
The pensive poet in his drooping age
Might wish to place his reed-roofed hermitage;
Where much on life's vain shadows he might muse.
If fortune smiled not on his early way,
If he were doomed to mourn a faithless friend,
Here he might rest, and when his hairs were gray,
Behold in peace the parting day descend.
If a hard world his errors scanned severe,
When late the earth received his mouldering clay, 120
Perhaps some loved companion, wandering near,
Plucking the gray moss from the stone, might say:
Him I remember, in our careless days,
Vacant and glad, till many a loss severe
First hung his placid eyelids with a tear;
Yet on such visions ardent would he gaze,
As the Muse loved, that oft would smile and die,
Like the faint bow that leaves the weeping sky;
His heart unguarded, yet it proudly beat
Against hard wrong, or coward cold deceit;— 130
Nor passed he e'er without a sigh the cell
Where wretchedness and her pale children dwell.
He never wished to win the world's cold ear,
Nor, prized by those he loved, its blame could fear;
Its praise he left to those who, at their will,
The ingenious strain of torturing art could trill!
Content, as random fancies might inspire,
If his weak reed, at times, or plaintive lyre,
He touched with desultory hand, and drew
Some softened tones, to Nature not untrue. 140
The leaves, O Derwent! on thy bosom still
Oft with the gust now fall—the season pale[Pg 66]
Hath smote with hand unseen the silent vale,
And slowly steals the verdure from the hill;
So the fair scene departs, yet wears a while
The lingering traces of its beauteous smile:
But we who by thy margin stray, or climb
The cliff's aërial height, or join the song
Of hope and gladness amidst yonder throng,
Losing the brief and fleeting hours of time, 150
Reck not how age, even thus, with icy hand,
Hangs o'er us;—how, as with a wizard's wand,
Youth blooming like the spring, and roseate mirth,
To slow and sere consumption he shall change,
And with invisible mutation strange,
Withered and wasted send them to the earth;
Whilst hushed, and by the mace of ruin rent,
Sinks the forsaken hall of merriment!
Bright bursts the sun upon the shaggy scene!
The aged rocks their glittering summits gray 160
Hang beautiful amid the beams of day;
And all the woods, with slowly-fading green,
Yet smiling wave:—severer thoughts, away!
The night is distant, and the lovely day
Looks on us yet;—the sound of mirthful cheer
From yonder dome comes pleasant to mine ear.
From rock to rock reverberated swells,
Hark,—the glad music of the village bells!
On the crag's naked point the heifer lows,
And wide below the brightening landscape glows! 170
Though brief the time and short our course to run,
Derwent! amid the scenes that deck thy side,
Ere yet the parting paths of life divide,
Let us rejoice, seeking what may be won
From the laborious day, or fortune's frown:
Here may we, ere the sun of life goes down,[Pg 67]
A while regardless of the morrow, dwell;
Then to our destined roads, and speed us well!

[39] I have ventured in this place to make Hope a boy.

[40] Matlock High Tor.


THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EDMUND BURKE.

Why mourns the ingenuous Moralist, whose mind
Science has stored, and Piety refined,
That fading Chivalry displays no more
Her pomp and stately tournaments of yore!
Lo! when Philosophy and Truth advance,
Scared at their frown, she drops her glittering lance;
Round her reft castles the pale ivy crawls,
And sunk and silent are her bannered halls!
As when far off the golden evening sails,
And slowly sink the fancy-painted vales, 10
With rich pavilions spread in long array;
So rolls the enchanter's radiant realm away;
So on the sight the parting glories fade,
The gorgeous vision sets in endless shade.
But shall the musing mind for this lament,
Or mourn the wizard's Gothic fabric rent!
Shall he, with Fancy's poor and pensive child,
Gaze on his shadowy vales, and prospects wild,
With lingering love, and sighing bid farewell
To the dim pictures of his parting spell! 20
No, Burke! thy heart, by juster feelings led,
Mourns for the spirit of high Honour fled;
Mourns that Philosophy, abstract and cold,
Withering should smite life's fancy-flowered mould;
And many a smiling sympathy depart,
That graced the sternness of the manly heart.
Nor shall the wise and virtuous scan severe
These fair illusions, ev'n to nature dear.[Pg 68]
Though now no more proud Chivalry recalls
Her tourneys bright, and pealing festivals; 30
Though now on high her idle spear is hung,
Though Time her mouldering harp has half unstrung;
Her milder influence shall she still impart,
To decorate, but not disguise, the heart;
To nurse the tender sympathies that play
In the short sunshine of life's early way;
For female worth and meekness to inspire
Homage and love, and temper rude desire;
Nor seldom with sweet dreams sad thoughts to cheer,
And half beguile affliction of her tear! 40
Lo! this her boast; and still, O Burke! be thine
Her glowing hues that warm, yet tempered shine;
Whilst whispers bland, and fairest dreams, attend
Thy evening path, till the last shade descend!
So may she soothe, with loftier wisdom's aid,
Thy musing leisure in the silent shade,
And bid poor Fancy, her cold pinions wet,
Life's cloudy skies and beating showers forget.
But can her fairest form, her sweetest song,
Soothe thee, assailed by calumny and wrong! 50
Ev'n now thy foes with louder accents cry:
Champion of unrelenting tyranny,
At Freedom hast thou aimed the deadly blow,
And striven with impious arm to lay her altars low!
No, Burke! indignant at the voice we start:
We trust thy liberal views, thy generous heart;
We think of those who, naked, pale, and poor,
Relieved and blessed, have wandered from thy door;
We see thee with unwearied step explore
Each track of bloodshed on the farthest shore 60
Of injured Asia, and thy swelling breast
Harrowing the oppressor, mourning for the oppressed,[Pg 69]
No, Burke! where'er Injustice rears her head,
Where'er with blood her idol grim is fed;
Where'er fell Cruelty, at her command,
With crimson banner marches through the land,
And striding, like a giant, onward hies,
Whilst man, a trodden worm, looks up, and dies;
Where'er pale Murder in her train appears,
With reeking axe, and garments wet with tears; 70
Or, lowering Jealousy, unmoved as Fate,
Bars fast the prison-cage's iron gate
Upon the buried sorrows and the cries
Of him who there, lost and forgotten, lies;—
When ministers like these, in fearful state,
Upon a bloody tyrant's bidding wait,
Thou too shalt own (and Justice lift her rod)
The cause of Freedom is the cause of God!
Fair spirit, who dost rise in beauteous pride,
Where proud Oppression hath thine arm defied! 80
When led by Virtue thou dost firm advance,
And bathe in Guilt's warm blood thy burning lance;
When all thy form its awful port assumes,
And in the tempest shake thy crimson plumes,
I mark thy lofty mien, thy steady eye,
So fall thy foes! with tears of joy I cry.
But ne'er may Anarchy, with eyes a-flame,
And mien distract, assume thy awful name;
Her pale torch sheds afar its hideous glare,
And shows the blood-drops in her dabbled hair; 90
The fiends of discord hear her hollow voice,
The spirits of the deathful storm rejoice:
As when the rising blast with muttering sweep
Sounds 'mid the branches of the forest deep,
The sad horizon lowers, the parting sun
Is hid, strange murmurs through the high wood run,[Pg 70]
The falcon wheels away his mournful flight,
And leaves the glens to solitude and night;
Till soon the hurricane, in dismal shroud,
Comes fearful forth, and sounds her conch aloud; 100
The oak majestic bows his hoary head,
And ruin round his ancient reign is spread:
So the dark fiend, rejoicing in her might,
Pours desolation and the storm of night;
Before her dread career the good and just
Fly far, or sink expiring in the dust;
Wide wastes and mighty wrecks around her lie,
And the earth trembles at her impious cry!
Whether her temple, wet with human gore,
She thus may raise on Gallia's ravaged shore, 110
Belongs to Him alone, and His high will,
Who bids the tempests of the world be still.[41]
With joy we turn to Albion's happier plain,
Where ancient Freedom holds her temperate reign;
Where Justice sits majestic on her throne;
Where Mercy turns her ear to every groan.
O Albion! fairest isle, whose verdant plain
Springs beauteous from the blue and billowy main;
In peaceful pomp whose glittering cities rise,
And lift their crowded temples to the skies; 120
Whose navy on the broad brine awful rolls;
Whose commerce glows beneath the distant poles;
Whose streams reflect full many an Attic pile;
Whose velvet lawns in long luxuriance smile;
Amid whose winding coombs contentment dwells,
Whose vales rejoice to hear the Sabbath bells;
Whose humblest shed, that steady laws protect,
The villager with woodbine bowers hath decked![Pg 71]
Sweet native land, whose every haunt is dear,
Whose every gale is music to mine ear; 130
Amidst whose hills one poor retreat I sought,
Where I might sometimes hide a saddening thought,
And having wandered far, and marked mankind
In their vain mask, might rest and safety find:
Oh! still may Freedom, with majestic mien,
Pacing thy rocks and the green vales, be seen;
Around thy cliffs, that glitter o'er the main,
May smiling Order wind her silver chain;
Whilst from thy calm abodes, and azure skies,
Far off the fiend of Discord murmuring flies! 140
To him who firm thy injured cause has fought,
This humble offering, lo! the Muse has brought;
Nor heed thou, Burke, if, with averted eye,
Scowling, cold Envy may thy worth decry!
It is the lot of man:—the best oft mourn,
As sad they journey through this cloudy bourne:
If conscious Genius stamp their chosen breast,
And on the forehead show her seal impressed,
Perhaps they mourn, in bleak Misfortune's shade,
Their age and cares with penury repaid; 150
Their errors deeply scanned, their worth forgot,
Or marked by hard injustice with a blot.
If high they soar, and keep their distant way,
And spread their ample pinions to the day,
Malignant Faction hears with hate their name,
And all her tongues are busy with their fame.
But 'tis enough to hold, as best we may,
Our destined track, till sets the closing day;
Whether with living lustre we adorn
Our high sphere, like the radiance of the morn; 160
Or whether silent in the shade we move,
Cheered by the lonely star of pensive love;[Pg 72]
Or whether wild opposing storms we stem,
Panting for Virtue's distant diadem;
'Tis the unshaken mind, the conscience pure,
That bids us firmly act, meekly endure;
'Tis this may shield us when the storm beats hard,
Content, though poor, had we no other guard![42]

[41] These lines were written before the murder of the late King of France, and many of the events of horror which have since taken place in that miserable country.

[42] Milton.


ON LEAVING A PLACE OF RESIDENCE.

If I could bid thee, pleasant shade, farewell
Without a sigh, amidst whose circling bowers
My stripling prime was passed, and happiest hours,
Dead were I to the sympathies that swell
The human breast! These woods, that whispering wave,
My father reared and nursed, now to the grave
Gone down; he loved their peaceful shades, and said,
Perhaps, as here he mused: Live, laurels green;
Ye pines that shade the solitary scene,
Live blooming and rejoice! When I am dead 10
My son shall guard you, and amid your bowers,
Like me, find shelter from life's beating showers.
These thoughts, my father, every spot endear;
And whilst I think, with self-accusing pain,
A stranger shall possess the loved domain,
In each low wind I seem thy voice to hear.
But these are shadows of the shaping brain
That now my heart, alas! can ill sustain:
We must forget—the world is wide—the abode
Of peace may still be found, nor hard the road. 20
It boots not, so, to every chance resigned,
Where'er the spot, we bear the unaltered mind.[Pg 73]
Yet, oh! poor cottage, and thou sylvan shade,
Remember, ere I left your coverts green,
Where in my youth I mused, in childhood played,
I gazed, I paused, I dropped a tear unseen,
That bitter from the font of memory fell,
Thinking on him who reared you; now, farewell!

ELEGIAC STANZAS.

WRITTEN DURING SICKNESS AT BATH.

When I lie musing on my bed alone, 1
And listen to the wintry waterfall;[43]
And many moments that are past and gone,
Moments of sunshine and of joy, recall;
Though the long night is dark and damp around, 2
And no still star hangs out its friendly flame;
And the winds sweep the sash with sullen sound,
And freezing palsy creeps o'er all my frame;
I catch consoling phantasies that spring 3
From the thick gloom, and as the night airs beat,
They touch my heart, like wind-swift wires[44] that ring
In mournful modulations, strange and sweet.
Was it the voice of thee, my buried friend? 4
Was it the whispered vow of faithful love?
Do I in Knoyle's green shades thy steps attend,
And hear the high pines murmur thus above?[Pg 74]
'Twas not thy voice, my buried friend!—Oh, no: 5
'Twas not, O Knoyle! the murmur of thy trees;
But at the thought I feel my bosom glow,
And woo the dream whose air-drawn shadows please.
And I can think I see the groves again, 6
The larches that yon peaceful roof embower;
The airy down, the cattle-speckled plain,
And the slant sunshine on the village tower.
And I can think I hear its Sabbath chime 7
Come smoothly softened down the woody vale;
Or mark on yon lone eminence sublime,
Fast whirling in the wind, the white mill's sail.
Phantom, that by my bed dost beckoning glide, 8
Spectre of Death, to the damp charnel hie!
Thy dim pale hand, thy festering visage hide;
Thou com'st to say, I with thy worms shall lie!
Thou com'st to say that my once vacant mind 9
Amid those scenes shall never more rejoice;
Nor on the day of rest the hoary hind
Bend o'er his staff, attentive to my voice.
Hast thou not visited that pleasant place 10
Where in this hard world I have happiest been?
And shall I tremble at thy lifted mace
That hath pierced all on which life seemed to lean?
But Hope might whisper: Many a smiling day 11
And many a cheerful eve may yet be mine,
Ere age's autumn strew my locks with gray,
And weary to the dust my steps decline.[Pg 75]
I argue not, but uncomplaining bow 12
To Heaven's high 'hest; secure, whate'er my lot,
Meek spirit of resigned Content, that thou
Wilt smooth my pillow, and forsake me not!
Thou to the turfy hut with pilgrim feet 13
Wanderest, from halls of loud tumultuous joy;
Or on the naked down, when the winds beat,
Dost sing to the forsaken shepherd boy.
Thou art the sick man's nurse, the poor man's friend, 14
And through each change of life thou hast been mine;
In every ill thou canst a comfort blend,
And bid the eye, though sad, in sadness shine.
Thee I have met on Cherwell's willowed side, 15
And when our destined road far onward lay,
Thee I have found, whatever chance betide,
The kind companion of my devious way.
With thee unwearied have I loved to roam, 16
By the smooth-flowing Scheldt, or rushing Rhine;
And thou hast gladdened my sequestered home,
And hung my peaceful porch with eglantine.
When cares and crosses my tired spirits tried, 17
When to the dust my father I resigned;
Amidst the quiet shade unseen I sighed,
And, blest with thee, forgot a world unkind.
Ev'n now, while toiling through the sleepless night, 18
A tearful look to distant scenes I cast,
And the glad objects that once charmed my sight
Remember, like soft views of "faerie" past;[Pg 76]
I see thee come half-smiling to my bed, 19
With Fortitude more awfully severe,
Whose arm sustaining holds my drooping head,
Who dries with her dark locks the tender tear.
O firmer Spirit! on some craggy height 20
Who, when the tempest sails aloft, dost stand,
And hear'st the ceaseless billows of the night
Rolling upon the solitary strand;
At this sad hour, when no harsh thoughts intrude 21
To mar the melancholy mind's repose,
When I am left to night and solitude,
And languid life seems verging to its close;
Oh, let me thy pervading influence feel; 22
Be every weak and wayward thought repressed;
And hide thou, as with plates of coldest steel,
The faded aspect and the throbbing breast!
Silent the motley pageant may retreat, 23
And vain mortality's brief scenes remove;
Yet let my bosom, whilst with life it beat,
Breathe a last prayer for all on earth I love.
Slow-creeping pain weighs down my heavy eye, 24
A chiller faintness steals upon my breast;
"O gentle Muse, with some sweet lullaby"
Rock me in long forgetfulness to rest!

[43] The fall of the river, heard from the Parade.

[44] The Æolian harp.[Pg 77]


ON LEAVING WINCHESTER SCHOOL.

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1782.

The spring shall visit thee again,
Itchin! and yonder ancient fane,[45]
That casts its shadow on thy breast,
As if, by many winters beat,
The blooming season it would greet,
With many a straggling wild-flower shall be dressed.
But I, amid the youthful train
That stray at evening by thy side,
No longer shall a guest remain,
To mark the spring's reviving pride.
I go not unrejoicing; but who knows,
When I have shared, O world! thy common woes,
Returning I may drop some natural tears;
As these same fields I look around,
And hear from yonder dome[46] the slow bell sound,
And think upon the joys that crowned my stripling years!

[45] St Croix.

[46] The Cathedral.


HOPE, AN ALLEGORICAL SKETCH.

But thou, O Hope! with eyes so fair,
What was thy delightful measure?
Collins.
I am the comforter of them that mourn;
My scenes well shadowed, and my carol sweet,
Cheer the poor passengers of life's rude bourne,
Till they are sheltered in that last retreat,[Pg 78]
Where human toils and troubles are forgot.
These sounds I heard amid this mortal road,
When I had reached with pain one pleasant spot,
So that for joy some tears in silence flowed;
I raised mine eyes, sickness had long depressed,
And felt thy warmth, O sun! come cheering to my breast.
The storm of night had ceased upon the plain,
When thoughtful in the forest-walk I strayed,
To the long hollow murmur of the main
Listening, and to the many leaves that made
A drowsy cadence, as the high trees waved;
When straight a beauteous scene burst on my sight;
Smooth were the waters that the lowland laved:
And lo! a form, as of some fairy sprite,
Who held in her right hand a budding spray,
And like a sea-maid sung her sweetly warbled lay.
Soothing as steals the summer-wave she sung:
The grisly phantoms of the night are gone
To hear in shades forlorn the death-bell rung;
But thou whom sickness hast left weak and wan,
Turn from their spectre-terrors the green sea
That whispers at my feet, the matin gale
That crisps its shining marge shall solace thee,
And thou my long-forgotten voice shalt hail,
For I am Hope, whom weary hearts confess
The soothest sprite that sings on life's long wilderness.
As slowly ceased her tender voice, I stood
Delighted: the hard way, so lately passed,
Seemed smooth; the ocean's bright extended flood
Before me stretched; the clouds that overcast[Pg 79]
Heaven's melancholy vault hurried away,
Driven seaward, and the azure hills appeared;
The sunbeams shone upon their summits gray,
Strange saddening sounds no more by fits were heard,
But birds, in new leaves shrouded, sung aloft,
And o'er the level seas Spring's healing airs blew soft.
As when a traveller, who many days
Hath journeyed 'mid Arabian deserts still,
A dreary solitude far on surveys,
And met, nor flitting bird, nor gushing rill,
But near some marble ruin, gleaming pale,
Sighs mindful of the haunts of cheerful man,
And thinks he hears in every sickly gale
The bells of some approaching caravan;
At length, emerging o'er the dim tract, sees
Damascus' golden fanes, and minarets, and trees:
So beat my bosom when my winding way
Led through the thickets to a sheltered vale,
Where the fair syren sat; a smooth clear bay
Skirted with woods appeared, where many a sail
Went shining o'er the watery surface still,
Lessening at last in the gray ocean flood;
And yonder, half-way up the fronting hill,
Peeping from forth the trees, a cottage stood,
Above whose peaceful umbrage, trailing high,
A little smoke went up, and stained the cloudless sky.
I turned, and lo! a mountain seemed to rise,
Upon whose top a spiry citadel
Lifted its dim-seen turrets to the skies,
Where some high lord of the domain might dwell;[Pg 80]
And onward, where the eye scarce stretched its sight,
Hills over hills in long succession rose,
Touched with a softer and yet softer light,
And all was blended as in deep repose;
The woods, the sea, the hills that shone so fair,
Till woods, and sea, and hills seemed fading into air.
At once, methought, I saw a various throng
To this enchanting spot their footsteps bend;
All drawn, sweet Hope! by thy inspiring song,
Which melodies scarce mortal seem to blend.
First buxom Youth, with cheeks of glowing red,
Came lightly tripping o'er the morning dew,
He wore a harebell garland on his head,
And stretched his hands at the bright-bursting view:
A mountain fawn went bounding by his side,
Around whose slender neck a silver bell was tied.
Then said I: Mistress of the magic song,
Oh, pity 'twere that hearts that know no guile
Should ever feel the pangs of truth or wrong!
She heeded not, but sang with lovelier smile:
Enjoy, O youth, the season of thy May;
Hark, how the throstles in the hawthorn sing!
The hoary Time, that resteth night nor day,
O'er the earth's shade may speed with noiseless wing;
But heed not thou; snatch the brief joys that rise,
And sport beneath the light of these unclouded skies.
His fine eye flashing an unwonted fire,
Then Fancy o'er the glade delighted went;
He struck at times a small and silver lyre,
Or gazed upon the rolling element;[Pg 81]
Sometimes he took his mirror, which did show
The various landscape lovelier than the life;
Beaming more bright the vivid tints did glow,
And so well mingled was the colours' strife,
That the fond heart, the beauteous shades once seen,
Would sigh for such retreats, for vales and woods so green!
Gay was his aspect, and his airy vest,
As loose it flowed, such colours did display,
As paint the clouds reposing in the west,
Or the moist rainbow's radiant arch inlay;
And now he tripped, like fairy of the wood,
And seemed with dancing spirits to rejoice,
And now he hung his head in pensive mood:
Meantime, O Hope! he listened to thy voice,
And whilst of joy and youth it cheerly sung,
He touched his answering harp, and o'er the valley sprung.
Pleasure, a frolic nymph, to the glad sound
Came dancing, as all tears she might forget;
And now she gazed with a sweet archness round,
And wantonly displayed a silken net:
She won her way with fascinating air—
Her eyes illumined with a tender light,
Her smile's strange blandishment, her shaded hair
That lengthening hung, her teeth as ivory white,
That peeped from her moist lip, seemed to inspire
Tumultuous wishes warm, and dreams of fond desire.
What softer passions did thy bosom move,
When those melodious measures met thine ear,
Child of Sincerity, and virtuous Love!
Thine eyes did shine beneath a blissful tear[Pg 82]
That still were turned towards the tranquil scene,
Where the thin smoke rose from the embowered cot;
And thou didst think, that there, with smile serene,
In quiet shades, and every pang forgot,
Thou mightest sink on pure Affection's breast,
And listen to the winds that whispered thee to rest.
I thought, O Love, how seldom art thou found
Without annoyance in this earthly state!
For, haply, thou dost feed some rankling wound,
Or on thy youth pale poverty doth wait,
Till years, on heavy wing, have rolled away;
Or where thou most didst hope firm faith to see,
Thou meetest fickleness estranged and cold;
Or if some true and tender heart there be,
On which, through every change, thy soul might trust,
Death comes with his fell dart, and smites it to the dust!
But lusty Enterprise, with looks of glee,
Approached the drooping youth, as he would say,
Come to the high woods and the hills with me,
And cast thy sullen myrtle-wreath away.
Upon a neighing courser he did sit,
That stretched its arched neck, in conscious pride,
And champed as with disdain a golden bit,
But Hope her animating voice applied,
And Enterprise with speed impetuous passed,
Whilst the long vale returned his wreathed bugle's blast.
Suddenly, lifting high his ponderous spear,
A mailed man came forth with scornful pride,
I saw him, towering in his proud career,
Along the valley with a giant stride:[Pg 83]
Upon his helm, in letters of bright gold,
That to the sun's meridian splendour shone,
Ambition's name far off I might behold.
Meantime from earth there came a hollow moan;
But Fame, who followed, her loud trumpet blew,
And to the murmuring beach with eyes a-flame he flew.
And now already had he gained the strand,
Where a tall vessel rode with sail unfurled,
And soon he thought to reach the farther land,
Which to his eager eye seemed like a world
That he by strength might win and make his own;
And in that citadel, which shone so bright,
Seat him, a purple sovereign, on his throne.
So he went tilting o'er the waters white,
And whilst he oft looked back with stern disdain,
In louder tone, methought, was heard the inspiring strain:
By the shade of cities old,[47]
By many a river stained with gore,
By the sword of Sesac bold,
Who smote the nations from the shore
Of ancient Nile to India's farthest plain,
By Fame's proud pillars, and by Valour's shield
By mighty chiefs in glorious battle slain,
Assert thy sway; amid the bloody field
Pursue thy march, and to the heights sublime
Of Honour's glittering cliffs, a mighty conqueror climb!
Then said I, in my heart: Man, thou dost rear
Thine eye to heaven, and vaunt thy lofty worth;
The ensign of dominion thou dost bear
O'er nature's works; but thou dost oft go forth,[Pg 84]
Urged by proud hopes to ravage and destroy,
Thou dost build up a name by cruel deeds;
Whilst to the peaceful scenes of love and joy,
Sorrow, and crime, and solitude, succeeds.
Hence, when her war-song Victory doth sing,
Destruction flaps aloft her iron-hurtling wing.
But see, as one awakened from a trance,
With hollow and dim eyes and stony stare,
Captivity with faltering step advance!
Dripping and knotted was her coal-black hair;
For she had long been hid, as in the grave;
No sounds the silence of her prison broke,
Nor one companion had she in her cave,
Save Terror's dismal shape, that no word spoke;
But to a stony coffin on the floor
With lean and hideous finger pointed evermore.
The lark's shrill song, the early village chime,
The upland echo of the winding horn,
The far-heard clock that spoke the passing time,
Had never pierced her solitude forlorn;
At length, released from the deep dungeon's gloom,
She feels the fragrance of the vernal gale;
She sees more sweet the living landscape bloom,
And while she listens to Hope's tender tale,
She thinks her long-lost friends shall bless her sight,
And almost faints with joy amid the broad daylight.
And near the spot, as with reluctant feet,
Slowly desponding Melancholy drew,
The wind and rain her naked breast had beat,
Sunk was her eye, and sallow was her hue:[Pg 85]
In the huge forest's unrejoicing shade
Bewildered had she wandered day by day,
And many a grisly fiend her heart dismayed,
And cold and wet upon the ground she lay;
But now such sounds with mellow sweetness stole,
As lapped in dreams of bliss her slow-consenting soul.
Next, to the woody glen poor Mania strayed,
Most pale and wild, yet gentle was her look;
A slender garland she of straw had made,
Of flowers and rushes from the running brook;
But as she sadly passed, the tender sound
Of its sharp pang her wounded heart beguiled;
She dropped her half-made garland on the ground,
And then she sighed, and then in tears she smiled:
But in such sort, that Pity would have said,
O God, be merciful to that poor hapless maid!
Now ravingly she cried: The whelming main—
The wintry wave rolls over his cold head;
I never shall behold his form again;
Hence flattering fancies—he is dead, is dead!
Perhaps on some wild shore he may be cast,
Where on their prey barbarians howling rush,
Oh, fiercer they, than is the whelming blast!
Hush, my poor heart! my wakeful sorrows, hush!
He lives! I yet shall press him to my heart,
And cry, Oh no, no, no,—we never more will part!
So sang she, when despairing, from his cell,
Hid furthest in the lone umbrageous wood,
Where many a winter he had loved to dwell,
Came grim Remorse; fixed in deep thought he stood,[Pg 86]
His senses pierced by the unwonted tone;
Some stagnant blood-drops from his locks he shook;
He saw the trees that waved, the sun that shone,
He cast around an agonised look;
Then with a ghastly smile, that spoke his pain,
He hied him to his cave in thickest shades again.
And now the sun sank westward, and the sky
Was hung with thousand lucid pictures gay;
When gazing on the scene with placid eye,
An ancient man appeared in amice gray;
His sandal shoes were by long travel worn,
O'er hill and valley, many a weary mile,
Yet drooped he not, like one in years forlorn;
His pale cheek wore a sad, but tender smile;
'Twas sage Experience, by his look confessed,
And white as frost his beard descended to his breast.
Thus said I: Master, pleasant is this place,
And sweet are those melodious notes I hear,
And happy they among man's toiling race
Who, of their cares forgetful, wander near;
Me they delight, whom sickness and slow pain
Have bowed almost to death with heavy hand;
The fairy scenes refresh my heart again,
And, pleased, I listen to that music bland,
Which seems to promise hours of joy to come,
And bids me tranquil seek my poor but peaceful home.[48]
He said: Alas! these shadows soon may fly,
Like the gay creatures of the element;
Yet do poor mortals still with raptured eye
Behold like thee the pictures they present;[Pg 87]
And, charmed by Hope's sweet music, on they fare,
And think they soon shall reach that blissful goal,
Where never more the sullen knell of Care
For buried friends and severed loves shall toll:
So on they fare, till all their troubles cease,
And on a lap of earth they lie them down in peace.
But not there ceases their immortal claim;
From golden clouds I heard a small voice say:
Wisdom rejoiceth in a higher aim,
Nor heeds the transient shadows of a day;
These earthly sounds may die away, and all
These perishable pictures sink in night,
But Virtue from the dust her sons shall call,
And lead them forth to joy, and life, and light;
Though from their languid grasp earth's comforts fly,
And with the silent worm their buried bodies lie.
For other scenes there are; and in a clime
Purer, and other strains to earth unknown,
Where heaven's high host, with symphonies sublime,
Sing unto Him that sitteth on the throne.
Enough for man, if he the task fulfil
Which God ordained, and to his journey's end
Bear him right on, betide him good or ill;
Then Hope to soothe his death-bed shall descend,
Nor leave him, till in mansions of the blest
He gains his destined home, his everlasting rest.

[47] Written at the time of Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt.

[48] That of a village curate.[Pg 88]


THE BATTLE OF THE NILE.[49]

Shout! for the Lord hath triumphed gloriously!
Upon the shores of that renowned land,
Where erst His mighty arm and outstretched hand
He lifted high,
And dashed, in pieces dashed the enemy;—
Upon that ancient coast,
Where Pharaoh's chariot and his host
He cast into the deep,
Whilst o'er their silent pomp He bid the swoll'n sea sweep;
Upon that eastern shore, 10
That saw His awful arm revealed of yore,
Again hath He arisen, and opposed
His foes' defying vaunt: o'er them the deep hath closed!
Shades of mighty chiefs of yore,
Who triumphed on the self-same shore:
Ammon, who first o'er ocean's empire wide
Didst bid the bold bark stem the roaring tide;
Sesac, who from the East to farthest West
Didst rear thy pillars over realms subdued;
And thou, whose bones do rest 20
In the huge pyramid's dim solitude,
Beneath the uncouth stone,
Thy name and deeds unknown;
And Philip's glorious son,
With conquest flushed, for fields and cities won;
And thou, imperial Cæsar, whose sole sway
The long-disputed world at length confessed,
When on these shores thy bleeding rival lay![Pg 89]
Oh, could ye, starting from your long cold rest,
Burst Death's oblivious trance, 30
And once again with plumed pride advance,
How would ye own your fame surpassed,
And on the sand your trophies cast,
When, the storm of conflict o'er,
And ceased the burning battle's roar,
Beneath the morning's orient light,
Ye saw, with sails all swelling white,
Britain's proud fleet, to many a joyful cry,
Ride o'er the rolling surge in awful sovereignty!
For fierce Ambition fired your mind— 40
Beside your glittering car,
Amid the thickest war,
Went Superstition, sorceress blind,
In dimly-figured robe, with scowling mien,
Half hid in jealous hood;
And Tyranny, beneath whose helm was seen
His eye suffused with blood;
And giant Pride,
That the great sun with haughty smile defied;
And Avarice, that grasped his guilty gold; 50
These, as the sorceress her loud sistrum rung,
Their dismal pæan sung;
And still, far off, pale Pity hung her head,
Whilst o'er the dying and the dead
The victor's brazen wheels with gory axle rolled.
Now look on him, in holy courage bold;
The asserter of his country's cause behold!
He lifts his gaze to heaven, serenely brave,
And whilst around war's fearful banners wave,
He prays: Protect us, as our cause is just; 60
For in thy might alone, Judge of the world, we trust![Pg 90]
And they are scattered—the destroyers die!
They that usurped the bloody victor's claim,
That spoke of freedom; but, behold a cry!
They, that like a wasteful flame,
Or the huge sandy pillar, that amain
Whirls 'mid the silence of the desert plain,
Deathful in their career of terror came,
And scattered ruin as they passed!
So rush they, like the simoom's horrid blast; 70
They sweep, and all around is wilderness!
But from thy throne on high,
Thou, God, hast heard the cry
Of nations in distress!
Britain goes forth, beneath thy might,
To quell the proud blasphemers in the fight;
And Egypt, far along her winding main,
Echoes the shout of joy, and genuine Freedom's strain!
Now let them, who thy name, O God! defy,
Invoke the mighty Prophet of the East; 80
Or deck, as erst, the mystic feast
To Ashtaroth, queen of the starry sky!
Let them, in some cavern dark,
Seek Osiris' buried ark;
Or call on Typhon, of gigantic form,
Lifting his hundred arms, and howling 'mid the storm!
Or to that grisly king
In vain their cymbals let them ring,
To him in Tophet's vale revered
(With smoke his brazen idol smeared), 90
Grim Moloch, in whose fuming furnace blue
The unpitying priest the shrieking infant threw,
Whilst to shrill cries, and drums' and timbrels' sound,
The frantic and unhearing troop danced round;[Pg 91]
To him despairing let them go,
And tell their fearful tale of hideous overthrow!
Calm breathed the airs along the evening bay,
Where, all in warlike pride,
The Gallic squadron stretched its long array;
And o'er the tranquil tide 100
With beauteous bend the streamers waved on high
But, ah! how changed the scene ere night descends!
Hark to the shout that heaven's high concave rends!
Hark to that dying cry!
Whilst, louder yet, the cannon's roar
Resounds along the Nile's affrighted shore,
Where, from his oozy bed,
The cowering crocodile hath raised his head!
What bursting flame
Lightens the long track of the gleamy brine! 110
From yon proud ship it came,
That towered the leader of the hostile line!
Now loud explosion rends the midnight air!
Heard ye the last deep groaning of despair?
Heaven's fiery cope unwonted thunders fill,
Then, with one dreadful pause, earth, air, and seas are still!
But now the mingled fight
Begins its awful strife again!
Through the dun shades of night
Along the darkly-heaving main 120
Is seen the frequent flash;
And many a towering mast with dreadful crash
Rings falling. Is the scene of slaughter o'er?
Is the death-cry heard no more?
Lo! where the East a glimmering freckle streaks,
Slow o'er the shadowy wave the gray dawn breaks.[Pg 92]
Behold, O Sun, the flood
Strewed with the dead, and dark with blood!
Behold, all scattered on the rocking tide,
The wrecks of haughty Gallia's pride! 130
But Britain's floating bulwarks, with serene
And silent pomp, amid the deathful scene
Move glorious, and more beautiful display
Their ensigns streaming to thy orient ray.
Awful Genius of the land!
Who (thy reign of glory closed)
By marble wrecks, half-hid in sand,
Hast mournfully reposed;
Who long, amid the wasteful desert wide,
Hast loved with death-like stillness to abide; 140
Or wrapped in tenfold gloom,
From noise of human things for ages hid,
Hast sat upon the shapeless tomb
In the forlorn and dripping pyramid;
Awake! Arise!
Though thou behold the day no more
That saw thy pride and pomp of yore;
Though, like the sounds that in the morning ray
Trembled and died away
From Memnon's statue; though, like these, the voice 150
That bade thy vernal plains rejoice,
The voice of Science, is no longer heard;
And all thy gorgeous state hath disappeared:
Yet hear, with triumph, and with hope again,
The shouts of joy that swell from thy forsaken main!
And, oh! might He, at whose command
Deep darkness shades a mourning land;[Pg 93]
At whose command, bursting from night,
And flaming with redoubled light,
The Sun of Science mounts again, 160
And re-illumes the wide-extended plain!
Might He, from this eventful day,
Illustrious Egypt, to thy shore
Science, Freedom, Peace restore,
And bid thy crowded ports their ancient pomp display!
No more should Superstition mark,
In characters uncouth and dark,
Her dreary, monumental shrine!
No more should meek-eyed Piety
Outcast, insulted lie 170
Beneath the mosque, whose golden crescents shine,
But starting from her trance,
O'er Nubia's sands advance
Beyond the farthest fountains of the Nile!
The dismal Gallas should behold her smile,
And Abyssinia's inmost rocks rejoice
To hear her awful lore, yet soft consoling voice!
Hasten, O God! the time, when never more
Pale Pity, from her moonlight seat shall hear,
And dropping at the sound a fruitless tear, 180
The far-off battle's melancholy roar;
When never more Horror's portentous cry
Shall sound amid the troubled sky;
Or dark Destruction's grimly-smiling mien,
Through the red flashes of the fight be seen!
Father in heaven! our ardent hopes fulfil;
Thou speakest "Peace," and the vexed world is still!
Yet should Oppression huge arise,
And with bloody banners spread,[Pg 94]
Upon the gasping nations tread, 190
Whilst he thy name defies,
Trusting in Thee alone, we hope to quell
His furious might, his purpose fell;
And as the ensigns of his baffled pride
O'er the seas are scattered wide,
We will take up a joyous strain and cry—
Shout! for the Lord hath triumphed gloriously!

[49] This poem, "Coombe Ellen," "St Michael's Mount," et cet., down to the Monody on Dr Warton, originally dedicated to the Countess of Mansfield, are dated from Donhead, 1802.


A GARDEN-SEAT AT HOME.

Oh, no; I would not leave thee, my sweet home,
Decked with the mantling woodbine and the rose,
And slender woods that the still scene inclose,
For yon magnificent and ample dome[50]
That glitters in my sight! yet I can praise
Thee, Arundel, who, shunning the thronged ways
Of glittering vice, silently dost dispense
The blessings of retired munificence.
Me, a sequestered cottage, on the verge
Of thy outstretched domain, delights; and here
I wind my walks, and sometimes drop a tear
O'er Harriet's urn, scarce wishing to emerge
Into the troubled ocean of that life,
Where all is turbulence, and toil, and strife.
Calm roll the seasons o'er my shaded niche;
I dip the brush, or touch the tuneful string,
Or hear at eve the unscared blackbirds sing;
Enough if, from their loftier sphere, the rich
Deign my abode to visit, and the poor
Depart not, cold and hungry, from my door.
Donhead, Oct. 12, 1798.

[50] Wardour Castle.[Pg 95]


IN HORTO REV. J. STILL,

APUD KNOYLE, VILLAM AMŒNISSIMAM.

Stranger! a while beneath this aged tree
Rest thee, the hills beyond, and flowery meads,
Surveying; and if Nature's charms may wake
A sweet and silent transport at thine heart,
In spring-time, whilst the bee hums heedless nigh,
Rejoice! for thee the verdant spot is dressed,
Circled with laurels green, and sprinkled o'er
With many a budding rose: the shrubs all ring
To the birds' warblings, and by fits the air
Whispers amid the foliage o'er thine head!
Rejoice, and oh! if life's sweet spring be thine,
So gather its brief rose-buds, and deceive
The cares and crosses of humanity.

GREENWICH HOSPITAL.

Come to these peaceful seats, and think no more
Of cold, of midnight watchings, or the roar
Of Ocean, tossing on his restless bed!
Come to these peaceful seats, ye who have bled
For honour, who have traversed the great flood,
Or on the battle's front with stern eye stood,
When rolled its thunder, and the billows red
Oft closed, with sudden flashings, o'er the dead!
Oh, heavy are the sorrows that beset
Old age! and hard it is—hard to forget
The sunshine of our youth, our manhood's pride!
But here, O aged men! ye may abide[Pg 96]
Secure, and see the last light on the wave
Of Time, which wafts you silent to your grave;
Like the calm evening ray, that smiles serene
Upon the tranquil Thames, and cheers the sinking scene.

A RUSTIC SEAT NEAR THE SEA.

To him, who, many a night upon the main,
At mid-watch, from the bounding vessel's side,
Shivering, has listened to the rocking tide,
Oh, how delightful smile thy views again,
Fair Land! the sheltered hut, and far-seen mill
That safe sails round and round; the tripping rill
That o'er the gray sand glitters; the clear sky,
Beneath whose blue vault shines the village tower,
That high elms, swaying in the wind, embower;
And hedge-rows, where the small birds' melody
Solace the lithe and loitering peasant lad!
O Stranger! is thy pausing fancy sad
At thought of many evils which do press
On wide humanity!—Look up; address
The God who made the world; but let thy heart
Be thankful, though some heavy thoughts have part,
That, sheltered from the human storms' career,
Thou meetest innocence and quiet here.

WARDOUR CASTLE.

If rich designs of sumptuous art may please,
Or Nature's loftier views, august and old,
Stranger! behold this spreading scene;—behold
This amphitheatre of aged trees,[Pg 97]
That solemn wave above thee, and around
Darken the towering hills! Dost thou complain
That thou shouldst cope with penury or pain,
Or sigh to think what pleasures might be found
Amid such wide possessions!—Pause awhile;
Imagine thou dost see the sick man smile;
See the pale exiles, that in yonder dome,
Safe from the wasteful storm, have found a home;[51]
And thank the Giver of all good, that lent
To the humane, retired, beneficent,
The power to bless. Nor lift thy heart elate,
If such domains be thine; but emulate
The fair example, and those deeds, that rise
Like holy incense wafted to the skies;
Those deeds that shall sustain the conscious soul,
When all this empty world hath perished, like a scroll!

[51] French emigrants, chiefly supported by the bounty of Lord Arundel.


POLE-VELLUM, CORNWALL.

A PICTURESQUE COTTAGE AND GROUNDS BELONGING TO J. LEMON, ESQ.

Stranger! mark this lovely scene,
When the evening sets serene,
And starting o'er the silent wood,
The last pale sunshine streaks the flood,
And the water gushing near
Soothes, with ceaseless drip, thine ear;
Then bid each passion sink to rest;—
Should ev'n one wish rise in thy breast,
One tender wish, as now in mine,
That some such quiet spot were thine,[Pg 98]
And thou, recalling seasons fled,
Couldst wake the slumbers of the dead,
And bring back her you loved, to share
With thee calm peace and comfort there;—
Oh, check the thought, but inly pray
To He, "who gives and takes away,"
That many years this fair domain
Its varied beauties may retain;—
So when some wanderer, who has lost
His heart's best treasure, who has crossed
In life bleak hills and passes rude,
Should gain this lovely solitude;
Delighted he may pause a while,
And when he marks the landscape smile,
Leave with its willows, ere he part,
The blessings of a softened heart.
July 1786.

ON A BEAUTIFUL SPRING,

FORMING A COLD BATH, AT COOMBE, NEAR DONHEAD, BELONGING TO MY BROTHER, CHAS. BOWLES, ESQ.

Fountain, that sparklest through the shady place,
Making a soft, sad murmur o'er the stones
That strew thy lucid way! Oh, if some guest
Should haply wander near, with slow disease
Smitten, may thy cold springs the rose of health
Bring back, and the quick lustre to his eye!
The ancient oaks that on thy margin wave,
The song of birds, and through the rocky cave
The clear stream gushing, their according sounds
Should mingle, and, like some strange music, steal[Pg 99]
Sadly, yet soothing, o'er his aching breast.
And thou, pale exile from thy native shores,[52]
Here drink,—oh, couldst thou!—as of Lethe's stream!
Nor friends, nor bleeding country, nor the views
Of hills or streams beloved, nor vesper bell,
Heard in the twilight vale, remember more!

[52] French priests, who have a residence near.


A CENOTAPH,

TO THE MEMORY OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ISAAC, WHO DIED AT CAPE ST NICHOLA MOLE, 1797.

Oh, hadst thou fall'n, brave youth! on that proud day,[53]
When our victorious fleet o'er the red surge
Rolled in terrific glory, thou hadst fall'n
Most honoured; and Remembrance, while she thought
Upon thy gallant end, had dried her tear!
Now far beyond the huge Atlantic wave
Thy bones decay; the withering pestilence,
That swept the islands of the western world,
Smote thee, untimely drooping to the tomb!
But 'tis enough; whate'er a soldier's fate,
That firm he hied him, where stern honour bade;
Though with unequal strength, he sunk and died.

[53] The 1st of June 1794, when Colonel Isaac greatly distinguished himself as commander of the military on board Lord Howe's ship.[Pg 100]


TRANSLATION OF A LATIN POEM

BY THE REV. NEWTON OGLE, DEAN OF MANCHESTER.

Oh thou, that prattling on thy pebbled way
Through my paternal vale dost stray,
Working thy shallow passage to the sea!
Oh, stream, thou speedest on
The same as many seasons gone;
But not, alas, to me
Remain the feelings that beguiled
My early road, when, careless and content,
(Losing the hours in pastimes innocent)
Upon thy banks I strayed a playful child; 10
Whether the pebbles that thy margin strew,
Collecting, heedlessly I threw;
Or loved in thy translucent wave
My tender shrinking feet to lave;
Or else ensnared your little fry,
And thought how wondrous skilled was I!
So passed my boyish days, unknown to pain,
Days that will ne'er return again.
It seems but yesterday
I was a child, to-morrow to be gray! 20
So years succeeding years steal silently away.
Not fleeter thy own current, hurrying thee,
Rolls down to the great sea.
Thither oh carry these sad thoughts; the deep
Bury them!—thou, meantime, thy tenor keep,
And winding through the green-wood, cheer,
As erst, my native, peaceful pastures here.[Pg 101]

ST MICHAEL'S MOUNT.

INSCRIBED TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD SOMERS.

While summer airs scarce breathe along the tide,
Oft pausing, up the mountain's craggy side
We climb, how beautiful, how still, how clear,
The scenes that stretch around! The rocks that rear
Their shapes, in rich fantastic colours dressed;
The hill-tops, where the softest shadows rest;
The long-retiring bay, the level sand,
The fading sea-line, and the furthest land,
That seems, as low it lessens from the eye,
To steal away beneath the cloudless sky! 10
But yesterday, the misty morn was spread
In dreariness on the bleak mountain's head;
No glittering prospect from the upland smiled,
The driving squall came dark, the sea heaved wild,
And, lost and lonely, the wayfarer sighed,
Wet with the hoar spray of the flashing tide.
How changed is now the circling scene! The deep
Stirs not; the glancing roofs and white towers peep
Along the margin of the lucid bay;
The sails, descried far in the offing gray, 20
Hang motionless, and the pale headland's height
Is touched as with sweet gleams of fairy light!
Oh, lives there on earth's busy-stirring scene,
Whom Nature's tranquil charms, her airs serene,
Her seas, her skies, her sunbeams, fail to move
With stealing tenderness and grateful love!
Go, thankless man, to Misery's cave—behold
Captivity, stretched in her dungeon cold!
Or think on those who, in yon dreary mine,[54]
Sunk fathoms deep beneath the rolling brine,[Pg 102] 30
From year to year, amid the lurid shade,
O'er-wearied, ply their melancholy trade;
That thou may'st bless the glorious sun; and hail
Him who with beauty clothed the hill and vale;
Who bent the arch of the high heavens for thee,
And stretched in amplitude the broad blue sea!
Now sunk are all its murmurs; and the air
But moves by fits the bents, that here and there
Upshoot in casual spots of faded green:
Here straggling sheep the scanty pasture glean, 40
Or, on the jutting fragments that impend,
Stray fearlessly, and gaze, as we ascend.[55]
Mountain, no pomp of waving woods hast thou,
That deck with varied shade thy hoary brow;
No sunny meadows at thy feet are spread,
No streamlets sparkle o'er their pebbly bed!
But thou canst boast thy beauties: ample views
That catch the rapt eye of the pausing Muse;
Headlands around new-lighted; sails, and seas,
Now glassy-smooth, now wrinkling to the breeze; 50
And when the drisly Winter, wrapped in sleet,
Goes by, and winds and rain thy ramparts beat,
Fancy can see thee standing thus aloof,
And frowning, bleak, and bare, and tempest-proof,
Look as with awful confidence, and brave
The howling hurricane, the dashing wave;
More graceful, when the storm's dark vapours frown,
Than when the summer suns in pomp go down!
And such is he, who, clad in watchet weeds,
And boasting little more than nature needs, 60
Can wrap him in contentedness, and wear
A port unchanged, in seasons rude or fair.[Pg 103]
His may be Fancy's sunshine, and the Muse
May deck his visions with her fairest hues;
And he may lift his honest front, and say
To the hard storm, that rends his locks of gray,
I heed thee not;—he unappalled may stand
Beneath the cloud that shades a sinking land,
While heedless of the storm that onward sweeps,
Mad, impious Riot his loud wassail keeps, 70
Pre-eminent in native worth; nor bend,
Though gathering ills on his bare head descend:
And when the wasteful storm sweeps o'er its prey,
And rends the kingdoms of the world away,
He, firm as stands the rock's unshaken base,
Yet panting for a surer resting-place,
The human hurricane unmoved can see,
And say, O God, my refuge is in Thee!
States, anchored deep, that far their shadow cast,
Rock, and are scattered by the Almighty's blast; 80
As when, awakened from his horrid sleep,
In fiery caves, a thousand fathoms deep,
The Earthquake's Demon hies aloft; he waits,
Nigh some high-turreted proud city's gates,
As listening to the mingled shouts and din
Of the mad crowd that feast or dance within.
Mean time sad Nature feels his sway, the wave
Heaves, and low sounds moan through the mountain cave;
Then all at once is still, still as midnight,
When not the lime-leaf moves: Oh, piteous sight! 90
For now the glittering domes crash from on high—
And hark, a strange and lamentable cry!
It ceases, and the tide's departing roar
Alone is heard upon the desert shore,
That, as it sweeps with slow huge swell away,
Remorseless mutters o'er its buried prey.[Pg 104]
So Ruin hurrieth o'er this shaken ball:
He bids his blast go forth, and lo! doth fall
A Carthage or a Rome. Then rolls the tide
Of deep Forgetfulness, whelming the pride 100
Of man, his shattered and forsaken bowers,
His noiseless cities, and his prostrate towers.
Some columns, eminent and awful, stand,
Like Egypt's pillars on the lonely sand;
We read upon their base, inscribed by Fame,
A Homer's here, or here a Shakespeare's name;
Yet think not of the surge, that soon may sweep
Ourselves unnumbered to the oblivious deep.
Yet time has been, as mouldering legends say,[56]
When all yon western tract, and this bright bay, 110
Where now the sunshine sleeps, and wheeling white
The sea-mew circles in fantastic flight,
Was peopled wide; but the loud storm hath raved,
Where its green top the high wood whispering waved,
And many a year the slowly-rising flood
Raked, where the Druids' uncooth altar stood.
Thou only, aged mountain, dost remain,
Stern monument amidst the deluged plain!
And fruitless the big waves thy bulwarks beat;
The big waves slow retire, and murmur at thy feet:[57] 120
Thou, half-encircled by the refluent tide,
As if thy state its utmost rage defied,
Dost tower above the scene, as in thine ancient pride.
Mountain! the curious Muse might love to gaze
On the dim record of thy early days;
Oft fancying that she heard, like the low blast,
The sounds of mighty generations past.[Pg 105]
Thee the Phœnician, as remote he sailed
Along the unknown coast, exulting hailed,
And when he saw thy rocky point aspire, 130
Thought on his native shores of Aradus or Tyre.
Distained with many a ghastly giant's blood,
Upon thy height huge Corineus[58] stood,
And clashed his shield; whilst, hid in caves profound,
His monstrous foe cowered at the fearful sound.
Hark to the brazen clarion's pealing swell!
The shout at intervals, the deepening yell!
Long ages speed away, yet now again
The noise of battle hurtles on the plain!
Behold the dark-haired warriors!—down thy side, 140
O mountain! sternly terrible, they stride!
Ev'n now, impatient for the promised war,
They rear their axes[59] huge, and shouting, cry to Thor.
The sounds of conflict cease—at dead of night
A voice is heard: Prepare the Druid rite!
And hark! the bard upon thy summit rings
The deep chords of his thrilling harp, and sings
To Night's pale Queen, that through the heavens wide,
Amidst her still host list'ning seems to ride!
Slow sinks the cadence of the solemn lay, 150
And all the sombrous scenery steals away—
The shadowy Druid throng, the darksome wood,
And the hoar altar, wet with human blood!
Marked ye the Angel-spectre that appeared?
By other hands the holy fane[60] is reared[Pg 106]
High on the point, where, gazing o'er the flood,
Confessed, the glittering apparition stood.
And now the sailor, on his watch of night,
Sees, like a glimmering star, the far-off light;
Or, homeward bound, hears on the twilight bay 160
The slowly-chanted vespers die away!
These scenes are fled and passed, yet still sublime,
And wearing graceful the gray tints of Time,
Upon the steep rock's craggy eminence
The embattled castle sits, surveying thence
The villages that strew the subject plain,
And the long winding of the lucid main:
Meantime the stranger marks its turrets high,
And muses on the tale of changeful years gone by.
Of this no more: lo! here our journey ends; 170
Wide and more wide the arch of heaven extends,
And on this topmost fragment as we lean,
We feel removed from dim earth's distant scene.
Lift up the hollow trump[61] that on the ground
Is cast, and let it, rolling its long sound,
Speak to the surge below, that we may gain
Tidings from those who traverse the wide main.
Or tread we now some spot of wizard-land,
And mark the sable trump, that may command
The brazen doors to fly, and with loud call 180
Scare the grim giant in his murky hall!
Hail, solitary castle! that dost crown
This desert summit, and supreme look down
On the long-lessening landscape stretched below;
Fearless to trace thy inmost haunts we go!
We climb the steps:—No warning signs are sent,
No fiery shapes flash on the battlement.[Pg 107]
We enter; the long chambers without fear
We traverse; no strange echoes meet the ear;
No time-worn tapestry spontaneous shakes, 190
No spell-bound maiden from her trance awakes,
But Taste's fair hand arrays the peaceful dome,
And hither the domestic virtues come;
Pleased, while to this secluded scene they bear
Sweets that oft wither in a world of care.
Castle! no more thou frownest on the main
In the dark terror of thy ancient reign;
No more thy long and dreary halls affright,
Swept by the stoled spirits of the night;
But calm, and heedless of the storms that beat, 200
Here Elegance and Peace assume their seat;
And when the night descends, and Ocean roars,
Rocking without upon his darkened shores,
These vaulted roofs to gentle sounds reply,
The voice of social cheer, or song of harmony.[62]
So fade the modes of life with slow decay,
And various ages various hues display!
Fled are the grimly shadows of Romance—
And, pleased, we see in beauteous troop advance
New arts, new manners, from the Gothic gloom 210
Escaped, and scattering flowers that sweetlier bloom!
Refinement wakes; before her beaming eye
Dispersed, the fumes of feudal darkness fly.
Like orient Morning on the mountain's head,
A softer light on life's wide scene is shed;
Lapping in bliss the sense of human cares,
Hark! Melody pours forth her sweetest airs;
And like the shades that on the still lake lie,
Of rocks, or fringing woods, or tinted sky,[Pg 108]
Painting her hues on the clear tablet lays, 220
And her own beauteous world with tender touch displays!
Then Science lifts her form, august and fair,
And shakes the night-dews from her glittering hair;
Meantime rich Culture clothes the living waste,
And purer patterns of Athenian Taste
Invite the eye, and wake the kindling sense;
And milder Manners, as they play, dispense,
Like tepid airs of Spring, their genial influence!
Such is thy boast, Refinement. But deep dyes
Oft mar the splendour of thy noontide skies: 230
Then Fancy, sick of follies that deform
The face of day, and in the sunshine swarm;
Sick of the fluttering fopperies that engage
The vain pursuits of a degenerate age;
Sick of smooth Sophistry's insidious cant,
Or cold Impiety's defying rant;
Sick of the muling sentiment that sighs
O'er its dead bird, while Want unpitied cries;
Sick of the pictures that pale Lust inflame,
And flush the cheek of Love with deep, deep shame; 240
Would fain the shade of elder days recall,
The Gothic battlements, the bannered hall;
Or list of elfin harps the fabling rhyme,
Or wrapped in melancholy trance sublime,
Pause o'er the working of some wond'rous tale,
Or bid the spectres of the castle hail!
Oh, might I now, amid the frowning storm,
Behold, great Vision of the Mount! thy form,
Such and so vast as thou wert seen of yore,
When looking steadfast to Bayonna's shore, 250
Thou sattest awful on the topmost stone,
Making the rock thy solitary throne![Pg 109]
For up the narrow steps, winding with pain,
The watch-tower's loftiest platform now we gain.
Departed spirit! fruitless is the prayer,
We see alone thy long-deserted chair;[63]
And never more, or in the storm of night,
Or by the glimmering moon's illusive light,
Or when the flash, with red and hasty glance,
Sudden illumes the sea's remote expanse, 260
The shores, the cliffs, the mountain, till again
Deep darkness closes on the roaring main,
Shalt thou, dread Angel, with unaltered mien,
Sublime upon thy cloudy seat be seen!
Yet, musing much on wild tradition's lore,
And many a phantom tale, believed of yore,
Chiefly remembering the sweet song (whose strain
Shall never die) of him who wept in vain
For his loved Lycidas, in the wide sea
Whelmed, when he cried, great Angel, unto thee, 270
The fabled scene of thy renown we trace,
And hail, with thronging thoughts, thy hallowed resting-place!
The stealing Morn goes out—here let us end
Fitliest our song, and to the shore descend.
Yet once more, azure ocean, and once more,
Ye lighted headlands, and thou stretching shore,
Down on the beauties of your scenes we cast
A tender look, the longest and the last!
Amid the arch of heaven, extended clear,
Scarce the thin flecks of feathery clouds appear; 280
Beyond the long curve of the lessening bay
The still Atlantic stretches its bright way;
The tall ship moves not on the tranquil brine;
Around, the solemn promontories shine;[Pg 110]
No sounds approach us, save, at times, the cry
Of the gray gull, that scarce is heard so high;
The billows make no noise, and on the breast
Of charmed Ocean, Silence sinks to rest!
Oh, might we thus from heaven's bright battlements
Behold the scene Humanity presents; 290
And see, like this, all harmonised and still,
And hear no far-off sounds of earthly ill!
Wide landscape of the world, in purest light
Arrayed, how fair, how cheering were the sight!
Alas! we think upon this seat of care,
And ask, if peace, if harmony be there.
We hear the clangours and the cries that shake
The mad world, and their dismal music make;
We see gaunt Vice, of dread, enormous size,
That fearless in the broad day sweltering lies, 300
And scorns the feeble arrow that assails
His Heaven-defying crest and iron scales;
His brows with wan and withered roses crowned,
And reeling to the pipe's lascivious sound,
We see Intemperance his goblet quaff;
And mocking Blasphemy, with mad loud laugh,
Acting before high Heaven a direr part,
Sport with the weapons that shall pierce his heart!
If o'er the southern wave[64] we turn our sight,
More dismal shapes of hideous woe affright: 310
Grim-visaged War, that ruthless, as he hies,
Drowns with his trumpet's blast a brother's cries;
And Massacre, by yelling furies led,
With ghastly grin and eye-balls rolling red!
O'er a vast field, wide heaped with festering slain,
Hark! how the Demon Passions shout amain,[Pg 111]
And cry, exulting, while the death-storm lowers,
Hurrah! the kingdoms of the world are ours!
O God! who madest man, I see these things,
And wearied wish for a fleet angel's wings, 320
That I might fly away, and hear no more
The surge that moans along this mortal shore!
But Joy's unclouded sunshine may not be,
Till, Father of all worlds, we rest with Thee!
Then Truth, uplifting from thy works the pall,
Shall speak: In wisdom hast Thou made them all;
Then angels and archangels, as they gaze,
And all the acclaiming host of heaven, shall raise
The loud hosannah of eternal praise!
Here all is mixed with sorrow; and the clouds 330
Hang awfully, whose shade the dim earth shrouds;
Therefore I mourn for man, and sighing say,
As down the steep I wind my homeward way,
Oh, when will Earth's long muttering tempests cease,
And all be sunshine (like this scene) and peace!

[54] A mine called the Wherry-Mine, beneath the surface of the sea near Penzance.

[55] Three or four sheep were seen rambling among the precipices, and picking here and there a blade of grass; but in general the rock is naked, and extremely steep and craggy.

[56] Tradition reports that the rock was anciently connected by a large tract of land with the Isles of Scilly, and that the whole space between was inundated by an incursion of the sea.

[57] It is only at high tide the rock is entirely surrounded by the sea; at low water it is accessible by land.

[58] One of the supposed followers of Brutus, to whom Cornwall was allotted. The rather by him liked, says Milton, for that the hugest giants in rocks and caves were said to lurk there; which kind of monsters to deal with was his old exercise.

[59] At the bottom of this mountain, as they were digging for tin, they found spear-heads, axes, et cet.Camden.

[60] A convent built on the top of the rock, where the apparition of St Michael was said to have appeared.

[61] A speaking-trumpet lying on the ground.

[62] This and the foregoing reflections were suggested by seeing instruments of music, books, et cet., in an apartment, elegantly but appropriately fitted up.

[63] On the highest turret of the castle is a place called St Michael's Chair.

[64] Alluding to the cruelties committed in France.


ON AN UNFORTUNATE AND BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.

WRITTEN DECEMBER 1783.

Oh, Mary, when distress and anguish came,
And slow disease preyed on thy wasted frame;
When every friend, ev'n like thy bloom, was fled,
And Want bowed low thy unsupported head;
Sure sad Humanity a tear might give,
And Virtue say, Live, beauteous sufferer, live!
But should there one be found, (amidst the few
Who with compassion thy last pangs might view),[Pg 112]
One who beheld thy errors with a tear,
To whom the ruins of thy heart were dear, 10
Who fondly hoped, the ruthful season past,
Thy faded virtues might revive at last;
Should such be found—oh! when he saw thee lie,
Closing on every earthly hope thine eye;
When he beheld despair, with rueful trace,
Mark the strange features of thy altered face;
When he beheld, as painful death drew nigh,
Thy pale, pale cheek, thy feebly lifted eye,
Thy chill, shrunk hand, hung down as in despair,
Or slowly raised, with many a muttered prayer;— 20
When thus, in early youth, he saw thee bend
Poor to the grave, and die without a friend;
Some sadder feelings might unbidden start,
And more than common pity touch his heart!
The eventful scene is closed; with pausing dread
And sorrow I drew nigh the silent bed;
Thy look was calm—thy heart was cold and still,
As if the world had never used it ill;
Methought the last faint smile, with traces weak,
Still seemed to linger on thy faded cheek. 30
Poor Mary! though most beauteous in thy face,
Ere sorrow touched it, beamed each lovely grace;
Yet, oh! thy living features never wore
A look so sweet, so eloquent before,
As this, which bids all human passions cease,
And tells my pitying heart you died in peace![Pg 113]

HYMN TO WODEN.

God of the battle, hear our prayer!
By the lifted falchion's glare;
By the uncouth fane sublime,
Marked with many a Runic rhyme;
By the "weird sisters"[65] dread,
That, posting through the battle red,
Choose the slain, and with them go
To Valhalla's halls below,
Where the phantom-chiefs prolong
Their echoing feast, a giant throng, 10
And their dreadful beverage drain
From the skulls of warriors slain:
God of the battle, hear our prayer;
And may we thy banquet share!
Save us, god, from slow disease;
From pains that the brave spirit freeze;
From the burning fever's rage;
From wailings of unhonoured age,
Drawing painful his last breath;
Give us in the battle death! 20
Let us lift our glittering shield,
And perish, perish in the field!
Now o'er Cumri's hills of snow
To death, or victory, we go;
Hark! the chiefs their cars prepare;
See! they bind their yellow hair;
Frenzy flashes from their eye,
They fly—our foes before them fly!
Woden, in thy empire drear,
Thou the groans of death dost hear,[Pg 114] 30
And welcome to thy dusky hall
Those that for their country fall!
Hail, all hail the godlike train,
That with thee the goblet drain;
Or with many a huge compeer,
Lift, as erst, the shadowy spear!
Whilst Hela's inmost caverns dread
Echo to their giant tread,
And ten thousand thousand shields
Flash lightning o'er the glimmering fields! 40
Hark! the battle-shouts begin—
Louder sounds the glorious din:
Louder than the ice's roar,
Bursting on the thawing shore;
Or crashing pines that strew the plain,
When the whirlwinds hurl the main!
Riding through the death-field red,
And singling fast the destined dead,
See the fatal sisters fly!
Now my throbbing breast beats high— 50
Now I urge my panting steed,
Where the foemen thickest bleed.
Soon exulting I shall go,
Woden, to thy halls below;
Or o'er the victims, as they die,
Chaunt the song of Victory!

[65] Valkyriæ, or choosers of the slain. See Gray's "Fatal Sisters," et cet.[Pg 115]

COOMBE-ELLEN.[66]

Call the strange spirit that abides unseen
In wilds, and wastes, and shaggy solitudes,
And bid his dim hand lead thee through these scenes
That burst immense around! By mountains, glens,
And solitary cataracts that dash
Through dark ravines; and trees, whose wreathed roots
O'erhang the torrent's channelled course; and streams,
That far below, along the narrow vale,
Upon their rocky way wind musical.
Stranger! if Nature charm thee, if thou lovest 10
To trace her awful steps, in glade or glen,
Or under covert of the rocking wood,
That sways its murmuring and mossy boughs
Above thy head; now, when the wind at times
Stirs its deep silence round thee, and the shower
Falls on the sighing foliage, hail her here
In these her haunts; and, rapt in musings high,
Think that thou holdest converse with some Power
Invisible and strange; such as of yore
Greece, in the shades of piney Mænalaus, 20
The abode of Pan, or Ida's hoary caves,
Worshipped; and our old Druids, 'mid the gloom
Of rocks and woods like these, with muttered spell
Invoked, and the loud ring of choral harps.
Hast thou oft mourned the chidings of the world,
The sound of her disquiet, that ascends
For ever, mocking the high throne of God!
Hast thou in youth known sorrow! Hast thou drooped,[Pg 116]
Heart-stricken, over youth's and beauty's grave,
And ever after thought on the sad sound 30
The cold earth made, which, cast into the vault,
Consigned thy heart's best treasure—dust to dust!
Here, lapped into a sweet forgetfulness,
Hang o'er the wreathed waterfall, and think
Thou art alone in this dark world and wide!
Here Melancholy, on the pale crags laid,
Might muse herself to sleep; or Fancy come,
Witching the mind with tender cozenage,
And shaping things that are not; here all day
Might Meditation listen to the lapse 40
Of the white waters, flashing through the cleft,
And, gazing on the many shadowing trees,
Mingle a pensive moral as she gazed.
High o'er thy head, amidst the shivered slate,
Behold, a sapling yet, the wild ash bend,
Its dark red berries clustering, as it wished
In the clear liquid mirror, ere it fell,
To trace its beauties; o'er the prone cascade,
Airy, and light, and elegant, the birch
Displays its glossy stem, amidst the gloom 50
Of alders and jagged fern, and evermore
Waves her light pensile foliage, as she wooed
The passing gale to whisper flatteries.
Upon the adverse bank, withered, and stripped
Of all its pleasant leaves, a scathed oak
Hangs desolate, once sovereign of the scene,
Perhaps, proud of its beauty and its strength,
And branching its broad arms along the glen:
Oh, speaks it no remonstrance to the heart!
It seems to say: So shall the spoiler come, 60
The season that shall shatter your fair leaves,
Gay children of the summer! yet enjoy[Pg 117]
Your pleasant prime, and lift your green heads high,
Exulting; but the storm will come at last,
That shall lay low your strength, and give your pride
To the swift-hurrying stream of age, like mine.
And so severe Experience oft reproves
The gay and careless children of the world;
They hear the cold rebuke, and then again
Turn to their sport, as likes them, and dance on! 70
And let them dance; so all their blooming prime
They give not up to vanity, but learn
That wisdom and that virtue which shall best
Avail them, when the evil days draw nigh,
And the brief blossoms of their spring-time fade.
Now wind we up the glen, and hear below
The dashing torrent, in deep woods concealed,
And now again white-flashing on the view,
O'er the huge craggy fragments. Ancient stream,
That murmurest through the mountain solitudes, 80
The time has been when no eye marked thy course,
Save His who made the world! Fancy might dream
She saw thee thus bound on from age to age
Unseen of man, whilst awful Nature sat
On the rent rocks, and said: These haunts be mine.
Now Taste has marked thy features; here and there
Touching with tender hand, but injuring not,
Thy beauties; whilst along thy woody verge
Ascends the winding pathway, and the eye
Catches at intervals thy varied falls. 90
But loftier scenes invite us; pass the hill,
And through the woody hanging, at whose feet
The tinkling Ellen winds, pursue thy way.
Yon bleak and weather-whitened rock, immense,
Upshoots amidst the scene, craggy and steep,
And like some high-embattled citadel,[Pg 118]
That awes the low plain shadowing. Half-way up
The purple heath is seen, but bare its brow,
And deep-intrenched, and all beneath it spread
With massy fragments riven from its top. 100
Amidst the crags, and scarce discerned so high,
Hangs here and there a sheep, by its faint bleat
Discovered, whilst the astonished eye looks up,
And marks it on the precipice's brink
Pick its scant food secure:—and fares it not
Ev'n so with you, poor orphans, ye who climb
The rugged path of life without a friend;
And over broken crags bear hardly on,
With pale imploring looks, that seem to say,
My mother! she is buried, and at rest, 110
Laid in her grave-clothes; and the heart is still,
The only heart that throughout all the world
Beat anxiously for you! Oh, yet bear on;
He who sustains the bleating lamb shall feed
And comfort you: meantime the heaven's pure beam,
That breaks above the sable mountain's brow,
Lighting, one after one, the sunless crags,
Awakes the blissful confidence, that here,
Or in a world where sorrow never comes,
All shall be well. 120
Now through the whispering wood
We steal, and mark the old and mossy oaks
Imboss the mountain slope; or the wild ash,
With rich red clusters mantling; or the birch,
In lonely glens light-wavering; till behold!
The rapid river shooting through the gloom
Its lucid line along; and on its side
The bordering pastures green, where the swinked ox
Lies dreaming, heedless of the numerous flies
That, in the transitory sunshine, hum[Pg 119] 130
Round his broad breast; and further up the cot,
With blue, light smoke ascending; images
Of peace and comfort! The wild rocks around
Endear your smile the more, and the full mind,
Sliding from scenes of dread magnificence,
Sinks on your charms reposing; such repose
The sage may feel, when, filled and half-oppressed
With vast conceptions, smiling he returns
To life's consoling sympathies, and hears,
With heartfelt tenderness, the bells ring out; 140
Or pipe upon the mountains; or the low
Of herds slow winding down the cottaged vale,
Where day's last sunshine linger. Such repose
He feels, who, following where his Shakspeare leads,
As in a dream, through an enchanted land,
Here, with Macbeth, in the dread cavern hails
The weird sisters, and the dismal deed
Without a name; there sees the charmed isle,
The lone domain of Prospero; and, hark!
Wild music, such as earth scarce seems to own, 150
And Ariel o'er the slow-subsiding surge
Singing her smooth air quaintly! Such repose
Steals o'er her spirits, when, through storms at sea,
Fancy has followed some nigh-foundered bark
Full many a league, in ocean's solitude
Tossed far beyond the Cape of utmost Horn,
That stems the roaring deep; her dreary track
Still Fancy follows, and at dead of night
Hears, with strange thunder, the huge fragments fall
Crashing, from mountains of high-drifting ice 160
That o'er her bows gleam fearful; till at last
She hails the gallant ship in some still bay
Safe moored; or of delightful Tinian;
Smiling, like fairy isle, amid the waste;[Pg 120]
Or of New Zealand, where from sheltering rocks
The clear cascades gush beautiful, and high
The woodland scenery towers above the mast,
Whose long and wavy ensign streams beneath.
Far inland, clad in snow, the mountains lift
Their spiry summits, and endear the more 170
The sylvan scene around; the healing air
Breathes o'er green myrtles, and the poe-bird flits,
Amid the shade of aromatic shrubs,
With silver neck and blue enamelled wing.
Now cross the stream, and up the narrow track,
That winds along the mountain's edge, behold
The peasant girl ascend: cheerful her look,
Beneath the umbrage of her broad black hat,
And loose her dark-brown hair; the plodding pad
That bears her panting climbs, and with sure step 180
Avoids the jutting fragments; she, meantime,
Sits unconcerned, till, lessening from the view,
She gains the summit and is seen no more.
All day, along that mountain's heathy waste,
Booted and strapped, and in rough coat succinct,
His small shrill whistle pendent at his breast,
With dogs and gun, untired the sportsman roams;
Nor quits his wildly-devious range, till eve,
Upon the woods, the rocks, and mazy rills
Descending, warns him home: then he rejoins 190
The social circle, just as the clear moon,
Emerging o'er the sable mountain, sails
Silent, and calm, and beautiful, and sheds
Its solemn grandeur on the shadowy scene.
To music then; and let some chosen strain
Of Handel gently recreate the sense,
And give the silent heart to tender joy.[Pg 121]
Pass on to the hoar cataract,[67] that foams
Through the dark fissures of the riven rock;
Prone-rushing it descends, and with white whirl, 200
Save where some silent shady pool receives
Its dash; thence bursting, with collected sweep,
And hollow sound, it hurries, till it falls
Foaming in the wild stream that winds below.
Dark trees, that to the mountain's height ascend,
O'ershade with pendent boughs its mossy course,
And, looking up, the eye beholds it flash
Beneath the incumbent gloom, from ledge to ledge
Shooting its silvery foam, and far within
Wreathing its curve fantastic. If the harp 210
Of deep poetic inspiration, struck
At times by the pale minstrel, whilst a strange
And beauteous light filled his uplifted eye,
Hath ever sounded into mortal ears,
Here I might think I heard its tones, and saw,
Sublime amidst the solitary scene,
With dimly-gleaming harp, and snowy stole,
And cheek in momentary frenzy flushed,
The great musician stand. Hush, every wind
That shakes the murmuring branches! and thou stream, 220
Descending still with hollow-sounding sweep,
Hush! 'Twas the bard struck the loud strings: Arise,
Son of the magic song, arise!
And bid the deep-toned lyre
Pour forth its manly melodies.
With eyes on fire,
Caradoc rushed upon the foe;
He reared his arm—he laid the mighty low!
O'er the plain see him urge his gore-bathed steed![Pg 122]
They bleed, the Romans[68] bleed! 230
He lifts his lance on high,
They fly! the fierce invaders fly!
Fear not now the horse or spear,
Fear not now the foeman's might;
Victory the cry shall hear
Of those who for their country fight;
O'er the slain
That strew the plain,
Stern on her sable war-horse shall she ride,
And lift her red right hand, in their heart's blood deep dyed! 240
Return, my Muse! the fearful sound is past;
And now a little onward, where the way
Ascends above the oaks that far below
Shade the rude steep, let Contemplation lead
Our footsteps; from this shady eminence
'Tis pleasant and yet fearful to look down
Upon the river roaring, and far off
To see it stretch in peace, and mark the rocks
One after one, in solemn majesty
Unfolding their wild reaches; here with wood 250
Mantled, beyond abrupt and bare, and each
As if it strove, with emulous disdain,
To tower in ruder, darker amplitude.
Pause, ere we enter the long craggy vale;
It seems the abode of Solitude. So high
The rock's bleak summit[69] frowns above our head,
Looking immediate down, we almost fear
Lest some enormous fragment should descend
With hideous sweep into the vale, and crush
The intruding visitant. No sound is here,[Pg 123] 260
Save of the stream that shrills, and now and then
A cry as of faint wailing, when the kite
Comes sailing o'er the crags, or straggling lamb
Bleats for its mother. Here, remote from man,
And life's discordant roar, might Piety
Lift up her early orisons to Him
Who made the world; who piled up, mighty rocks,
Your huge o'ershadowing summits; who devolved
The mighty rivers on their mazy course;
Who bade the seasons roll, and they rolled on 270
In harmony; who filled the earth with joy,
And spread it in magnificence. O God!
Thou also madest the great water-flood,
The deep that uttereth thy voice; whose waves
Toss fearful at thy bidding. Thou didst speak,
And lo! the great and glorious sun, from night
Tenfold upspringing, through the heavens' wide way
Held his untired career. These, in their course,
As with one shout of acclamation, praise
Thee, Lord! thee, Father! thee, Almighty King!280
Maker of earth and heaven! Nor less the flower
That shakes its purple head, and smiles unseen
Upon the mountain's van; nor less the stream
That tinkles through the cliff-encircled bourne,
Cheering with music the lone place, proclaim:
In wisdom, Father, hast thou made them all!
Scenes of retired sublimity, that fill
With fearful ecstasy and holy trance
The pausing mind! we leave your awful gloom,
And lo! the footway plank, that leads across 290
The narrow torrent, foaming through the chasm
Below; the rugged stones are washed and worn
Into a thousand shapes, and hollows scooped
By long attrition of the ceaseless surge,[Pg 124]
Smooth, deep, and polished as the marble urn,
In their hard forms. Here let us sit, and watch
The struggling current burst its headlong way,
Hearing the noise it makes, and musing much
On the strange changes of this nether world.
How many ages must have swept to dust 300
The still succeeding multitudes, that "fret
Their little hour" upon this restless scene,
Or ere the sweeping waters could have cut
The solid rock so deep! As now its roar
Comes hollow from below, methinks we hear
The noise of generations, as they pass,
O'er the frail arch of earthly vanity,
To silence and oblivion. The loud coil
Ne'er ceases; as the running river sounds
From age to age, though each particular wave 310
That made its brief noise, as it hurried on,
Ev'n whilst we speak, is past, and heard no more;
So ever to the ear of Heaven ascends
The long, loud murmur of the rolling globe;
Its strife, its toils, its sighs, its shouts, the same!
But lo! upon the hilly croft, and scarce
Distinguished from the crags, the peasant hut
Forth peeping; nor unwelcome is the sight.
It seems to say: Though solitude be sweet,
And sweet are all the images that float 320
Like summer-clouds before the eye, and charm
The pensive wanderer's way, 'tis sweeter yet
To think that in this world a brother lives.
And lovelier smiles the scene, that, 'mid the wilds
Of rocks and mountains, the bemused thought
Remembers of humanity, and calls
The wildly-roving fancy back to life.
Here, then, I leave my harp, which I have touched[Pg 125]
With careless hand, and here I bid farewell
To Fancy's fading pictures, and farewell 330
The ideal spirit that abides unseen
'Mid rocks, and woods, and solitudes. I hail
Rather the steps of Culture, that ascend
The precipice's side. She bids the wild
Bloom, and adorns with beauty not its own
The ridged mountain's tract; she speaks, and lo!
The yellow harvest nods upon the slope;
And through the dark and matted moss upshoots
The bursting clover, smiling to the sun.
These are thy offspring, Culture! the green herb 340
Is thine, that decks with rich luxuriance
The pasture's lawny range; the yellow corn,
That waves upon the upland ridge, is thine;
Thine too the elegant abode, that smiles
Amidst the rocky scene, and wakes the thought,
The tender thought, of all life's charities.
And senseless were my heart, could I look back
Upon the varied way my feet have trod,
Without a silent prayer that health and joy,
And love and happiness, may long abide 350
In the romantic vale where Ellen winds.

[66] Coombe-Ellen (in Welsh, Cwm Elan) is situated among the most romantic mountains of Radnorshire, about five miles from Rhayd'r. This poem is inscribed to Thomas Grove, Esq. of Fern, Wiltshire, at whose summer residence, in Radnorshire, it was written.

[67] Nant-Vola.

[68] The Silures, comprehending Radnorshire, Herefordshire, Brecknockshire, Monmouthshire, and Glamorganshire, were the bravest of the Britons; Caractacus, the greatest and most renowned leader Britain had ever produced, was their king.

[69] Dole-Vinoc rock.


SUMMER EVENING AT HOME.

Come, lovely Evening! with thy smile of peace
Visit my humble dwelling; welcomed in,
Not with loud shouts, and the thronged city's din,
But with such sounds as bid all tumult cease
Of the sick heart; the grasshopper's faint pipe
Beneath the blades of dewy grass unripe,[Pg 126]
The bleat of the lone lamb, the carol rude
Heard indistinctly from the village green,
The bird's last twitter, from the hedge-row seen,
Where, just before, the scattered crumbs I strewed,
To pay him for his farewell song;—all these
Touch soothingly the troubled ear, and please
The stilly-stirring fancies. Though my hours
(For I have drooped beneath life's early showers)
Pass lonely oft, and oft my heart is sad,
Yet I can leave the world, and feel most glad
To meet thee, Evening, here; here my own hand
Has decked with trees and shrubs the slopes around,
And whilst the leaves by dying airs are fanned,
Sweet to my spirit comes the farewell sound,
That seems to say: Forget the transient tear
Thy pale youth shed—Repose and Peace are here.

WINTER EVENING AT HOME.

Fair Moon, that at the chilly day's decline
Of sharp December through my cottage pane
Dost lovely look, smiling, though in thy wane!
In thought, to scenes, serene and still as thine,
Wanders my heart, whilst I by turns survey
Thee slowly wheeling on thy evening way;
And this my fire, whose dim, unequal light,
Just glimmering, bids each shadowy image fall
Sombrous and strange upon the darkening wall,
Ere the clear tapers chase the deepening night!
Yet thy still orb, seen through the freezing haze,
Shines calm and clear without; and whilst I gaze,[Pg 127]
I think, around me in this twilight room,
I but remark mortality's sad gloom;
Whilst hope and joy cloudless and soft appear,
In the sweet beam that lights thy distant sphere.

THE SPIRIT OF NAVIGATION.[70]

Stern Father of the storm! who dost abide
Amid the solitude of the vast deep,
For ever listening to the sullen tide,
And whirlwinds that the billowy desert sweep!
Thou at the distant death-shriek dost rejoice;
The rule of the tempestuous main is thine,
Outstretched and lone; thou utterest thy voice,
Like solemn thunders: These wild waves are mine;
Mine their dread empire; nor shall man profane
The eternal secrets of my ancient reign.
The voice is vain: secure, and as in scorn,
The gallant vessel scuds before the wind;
Her parting sails swell stately to the morn;
She leaves the green earth and its hills behind;
Gallant before the wind she goes, her prow
High bearing, and disparting the blue tide
That foams and flashes in its rage below;
Meantime the helmsman feels a conscious pride,
And while far onward the long billows swell,
Looks to the lessening land, that seems to say, Farewell!
Father of storms! then let thy whirlwinds roar
O'er seas of solitary amplitude;
Man, the poor tenant of thy rocky shore,
Man, thy terrific empire hath subdued;[Pg 128]
And though thy waves toss his high-foundered bark
Where no dim watch-light gleams, still he defies
Thy utmost rage, and in his buoyant ark
Speeds on, regardless of the darkening skies;
And o'er the mountain-surges, as they roll,
Subdues his destined way, and speeds from pole to pole.
Behold him now, far from his native plain,
Where high woods shade some wild Hesperian bay,
Or green isles glitter in the southern main,
His streaming ensign to the morn display!
Behold him, where the North's pale meteors dance,
And icy rocks roll glimmering from afar,
Fearless through night and solitude advance!
Or where the pining sons of Andamar,
When dark eclipse has wrapt the labouring moon,
Howl to the demon of the dread monsoon!
Time was, like them, poor Nature's shivering child,
Pacing the beach, and by the salt spray beat,
He watched the melancholy surge, or smiled
To see it burn and bicker at his feet;
In some rude shaggy spot, by fortune placed,
He dreamed not of strange lands, and empires spread,
Beyond the rolling of the watery waste;
He saw the sun shine on the mountain's head,
But knew not, whilst he hailed the orient light,
What myriads blessed his beam, or sickened at the sight.
From some dark promontory, that o'erbent
The flashing waves, he heard their ceaseless roar;
Or carolled in his light canoe content,
As, bound from creek to creek, it grazed the shore;[Pg 129]
Gods of the storm the dreary space might sweep,
And shapes of death, and gliding spectres gaunt,
Might flit, he thought, o'er the remoter deep;
And whilst strange voices cried, Avaunt, avaunt!
Uncertain lights, seen through the midnight gloom,
Might lure him sadly on to his cold watery tomb.
No city, then, amid the calm clear day,
O'er the blue waters' undulating line,
With battlements, and fans that glittered gay,
And piers, and thronging masts, was seen to shine.
No cheerful sounds were wafted on the gale,
Nor hummed the shores with early industry;
But mournful birds in hollow cliffs did wail,
And there all day the cormorant did cry,
While with sunk eye, and matted, dripping locks,
The houseless savage slept beneath the foam-beat rocks.
Thus slumbering long upon the dreamy verge
Of instinct, see, he rouses from his trance!
Faint, and as glimmering yet, the Arts emerge,
One after one, from darkness, and advance,
Beauteous, as o'er the heavens the stars' still way.
Now see the track of his dominion wide,
Fair smiling as the dayspring; cities gay
Lift their proud heads, and o'er the yellow tide,
Whilst sounds of fervent industry arise,
A thousand pennants float bright streaming in the skies!
Genius of injured Asia! once sublime
And glorious, now dim seen amid the storm,
And melancholy clouds of sweeping time,
Who yet dost half reveal thine awful form,[Pg 130]
Pointing, with saddened aspect and slow hand,
To vast emporiums, desolate and waste;
To wrecks of unknown cities, sunk in sand!
'Twas at thy voice, Arts, Order, Science, Taste.
Upsprung, the East adorning, like the smile
Of Spring upon the banks of thy own swelling Nile.
'Twas at thy voice huge Enterprise awoke,
That, long on rocky Aradus reclined,
Slumbered to the hoarse surge that round her broke,
And hollow pipings of the idle wind;
She heard thy voice, upon the rock she stood
Gigantic, the rude scene she marked—she cried,
Let there be intercourse, and the great flood
Waft the rich plenty to these shores denied!
And soon thine eye delighted saw aspire,
Crowning the midland main, thy own Imperial Tyre.
Queen of the waters! who didst ope the gate
Of Commerce, and display in lands unknown
Thy venturous sail, ev'n now in ancient state
Methinks I see thee on thy rocky throne;
I see their massy piles thy cothons[71] rear,
And on the deep a solemn shadow cast;
I traverse thy once echoing shores, and hear
The sound of mighty generations past:
I see thy kingly merchants' thronged resort,
And gold and purple gleam o'er all thy spacious port.
I mark thy glittering galleys sweep along—
The steady rowers to the strokes incline,
And chaunt in unison their choral song;
White through their oars the ivory benches shine;[Pg 131]
The fine-wrought sails, which looms of Egypt wove,
Swell beautiful beneath the bending mast;
Hewn from proud Lebanon's immortal grove,
The oaks of Bashan brave the roaring blast!
So o'er the western wave thy vessels float,
For verdant Egypt bound, or Calpe's cliffs remote.
Queen of the waters! throned upon thy seat
Amid the sea, thy beauty and thy fame
The deep, that rolls low-murmuring at thy feet,
And all the multitude of isles, proclaim!
For thee Damascus piles her woolly store;
To thee their flocks Arabia's princes bring;
And Sheba heaps her spice and glittering ore;
The ships of Tarshish of thy glory sing:[72]
Queen of the waters! who is like to thee,
Replenished in thy might, and throned on the sea!
The purple streamers fly, the trumpets sound,
The adventurous bark glides on in tranquil state;
The voyagers, with leafy garlands crowned,
Draw back their arms together, and elate
Sweep o'er the surge; the spray far scattered flies
Beneath the stroke of their unwearied oars;
To their loud shouts the circling coast replies;
And now, o'er the deep ocean, where it roars
They fly; till slowly lessening from the shore,
Beneath the haze they sink—sink, and are seen no more.
When Night descends, and with her silver bow
The Queen of Heaven[73] comes forth in radiance bright,[Pg 132]
Surveying the dim earth and seas below;
Why from afar resounds the mystic rite
Hymned round her uncouth altar? Virgins there
(Amid the brazen cymbal's hollow ring)
And aged priests the solemn feast prepare;
To her their nightly orisons they sing;
That she may look from her high throne, and guide
The wandering bark secure along the trackless tide.
Her on his nightly watch the pilot views
Careful, and by her soft and tranquil light,
Along the uncertain coast his track pursues;
And now he sees great Carmel's woody height,
Where nightly fires to grisly Baal burn;
Round the rough cape he winds; meantime far on
Thick eddying scuds the hollow surf upturn;
He thinks of the sweet light of summer gone!
He thinks, perhaps, dashed on the rugged shore,
He never shall behold his babes' loved mother more!
Slow comes the morn; but ah! what demon form,[74]
While pealing thunder the high concave rends,
Rises more vast amid the rushing storm!
With dreadful shade his horrid bulk ascends
Dark to the driving clouds; beneath him roars
The deep; his troubled brow is wrapped in gloom;
See, it moves onwards; now more huge it soars!
Who shall avert the poor seafarer's doom!
Who now shall save him from the spectre's might
That treads the rocking waves in thunder and in night!
Dread phantom! art thou he whose fearful sway,
As Egypt's hoary chronicles have told,[Pg 133]
The clouds, the whirlwinds, and the seas obey,
Typhon, of aspect hideous to behold!
Oh, spare the wretched wanderers, who, led
By flattering hopes, have left the peaceful shore!
Behold, they shrink, they bend with speechless dread;
From their faint grasp drops the unheeded oar!
It answers not, but mingling seas and sky,
In clouds, and wind, and thunder, rushes by.
Hail to thy light, lord of the golden day,
That, bursting through the sable clouds again,
Dost cheer the seaman's solitary way,
And with new splendour deck the lucid main!
And lo! the voyage past, where many a palm,[75]
Its green top only seen, the prospect bounds,
Fringing the sunny sea-line, clear and calm;
Now hark the slowly-swelling human sounds!
Meantime the bark along the placid bay
Of Tamiatis keeps her easy-winding way.
Here rest we safe from scenes of peril past,
No danger lurks in this serene retreat;
No more is heard the roaring of the blast,
But pastoral sounds of scattered flocks that bleat,
Or evening herds that o'er the champaign low;
Here citrons tall and purple dates around
Delicious fragrance and cool shade bestow;
The shores with murmuring industry resound;
While through the vernal pastures where he strays,
The Nile, as with delight, his mazy course delays.

[70] Inscribed to the Rev. Dr Vincent Hind, Master of Westminster School.

[71] Artificial harbours.

[72] Ezekiel xxvii. 25, "The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee, and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas."

[73] Astarte, or the Moon, the goddess of the Sidonians, called the Queen of Heaven. "The women knead their dough, to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven" (Jer. vii. 18).

[74] Waterspouts are more frequent near the capes of Latikea, Grecgo, and Carmel, than in any other parts of the Mediterranean Sea.—Shaw's Travels.

[75] The coast of Egypt is not discovered till its trees are seen.[Pg 134]


WATER-PARTY ON BEAULIEU RIVER, IN THE NEW FOREST.

I thought 'twas a toy of the fancy, a dream
That leads with illusion the senses astray,
And I sighed with delight as we stole down the stream,
While the sun, as he smiled on our sail, seemed to say,
Rejoice in my light, ere it fade fast away!
We left the loud rocking of ocean behind,
And stealing along the clear current serene,
The Phædria[76] spread her white sails to the wind,
And they who divided had many a day been,
Gazed with added delight on the charms of the scene.
Each bosom one spirit of peace seemed to feel;
We heard not the tossing, the stir, and the roar
Of the ocean without; we heard only the keel,
The keel that went whispering along the green shore,
And the stroke, as it dipped, of the feathering oar.
Beneath the dark woods now, as winding we go,
What sounds of rich harmony burst on the ear!
Hark, cheer'ly the loud-swelling clarionets blow;
Now the tones gently die, now more mellow we hear
The horns through the high forest echoing clear!
They cease; and no longer the echoes prolong
The swell of the concert; in silence we float—
In silence! Oh, listen! 'tis woman's[77] sweet song—
The bends of the river reply to each note,
And the oar is held dripping and still from the boat.[Pg 135]
Mark the sun that descends o'er the curve of the flood!
Seize, Wilmot,[78] the pencil, and instant convey
To the tablet the water, the banks, and the wood,
That their colours may live without change or decay,
When these beautiful tints die in darkness away.
So when we are parted, and tossed on the deep,
And no longer the light on our prospect shall gleam,
The semblance of one lovely scene we may keep,
And remember the day, and the hour, like a dream,
When we sighed with delight as we stole down the stream!

[76] Cutter belonging to Nathaniel Ogle, Esq.

[77] Mrs Sheridan.

[78] Mrs Wilmot, well known for her great talents in drawing, et cet.


MONODY ON THE DEATH OF DR WARTON.

Oh! I should ill thy generous cares requite
Thou who didst first inspire my timid Muse,
Could I one tuneful tear to thee refuse,
Now that thine aged eyes are closed in night,
Kind Warton! Thou hast stroked my stripling head,
And sometimes, mingling soft reproof with praise,
My path hast best directed through the maze
Of thorny life: by thee my steps were led
To that romantic valley, high o'erhung
With sable woods, where many a minstrel rung 10
His bold harp to the sweeping waterfall;
Whilst Fancy loved around each form to call
That fill the poet's dream: to this retreat
Of Fancy, (won by whose enticing lay
I have forgot how sunk the summer's day),
Thou first did guide my not unwilling feet;
Meantime inspiring the gay breast of youth
With love of taste, of science, and of truth.[Pg 136]
The first inciting sounds of human praise,
A parent's love excepted, came from thee; 20
And but for thee, perhaps, my boyish days
Had all passed idly, and whate'er in me
Now live of hope, been buried.
I was one,
Long bound by cold dejection's numbing chain,
As in a torpid trance, that deemed it vain
To struggle; nor my eyelids to the sun
Uplifted: but I heard thy cheering voice;
I shook my deadly slumber off; I gazed
Delighted 'round; awaked, inspired, amazed, 30
I marked another world, and in my choice
Lovelier, and decked with light! On fairy ground
Methought I buoyant trod, and heard the sound
As of enchanting melodies, that stole,
Stole gently, and entranced my captive soul.
Then all was life and hope! 'Twas thy first ray,
Sweet Fancy, on the heart; as when the day
Of Spring, along the melancholy tract
Of wintry Lapland, dawns; the cataract,
From ice dissolving on the silent side 40
Of some white precipice, with paly gleam
Descends, while the cold hills a slanting beam
Faint tinges: till, ascending in his pride,
The great Sun from the red horizon looks,
And wakes the tuneless birds, the stagnant brooks,
And sleeping lakes! So on my mind's cold night
The ray of Fancy shone, and gave delight
And hope past utterance.
Thy cheering voice,
O Warton! bade my silent heart rejoice, 50
And wake to love of nature; every breeze,
On Itchin's brink was melody; the trees[Pg 137]
Waved in fresh beauty; and the wind and rain,
That shook the battlements of Wykeham's fane,
Not less delighted, when, with random pace,
I trod the cloistered aisles; and witness thou,
Catherine,[79] upon whose foss-encircled brow
We met the morning, how I loved to trace
The prospect spread around; the rills below,
That shone irriguous in the gleaming plain; 60
The river's bend, where the dark barge went slow,
And the pale light on yonder time-worn fane![80]
So passed my days with new delight; mean time
To Learning's tender eye thou didst unfold
The classic page, and what high bards of old,
With solemn notes, and minstrelsy sublime,
Have chanted, we together heard; and thou,
Warton! wouldst bid me listen, till a tear
Sprang to mine eye: now the bold song we hear
Of Greece's sightless master-bard:[81] the breast 70
Beats high; with stern Pelides to the plain
We rush; or o'er the corpse of Hector slain
Hang pitying;—and lo! where pale, oppressed
With age and grief, sad Priam comes;[82] with beard
All white he bows, kissing the hands besmeared
With his last hope's best blood!
The oaten reed[83]
Now from the mountain sounds; the sylvan Muse,
Reclined by the clear stream of Arethuse,
Wakes the Sicilian pipe; the sunny mead 80
Swarms with the bees, whose drowsy lullaby
Soothes the reclining ox with half-closed eye;
While in soft cadence to the madrigal,
From rock to rock the whispering waters fall![Pg 138]
But who is he,[84] that, by yon gloomy cave,
Bids heaven and earth bear witness to his woe!
And hark! how hollowly the ocean-wave
Echoes his plaint, and murmurs deep below!
Haste, let the tall ship stem the tossing tide,
That he may leave his cave, and hear no more 90
The Lemnian surges unrejoicing roar;
And be great Fate through the dark world thy guide,
Sad Philoctetes![85]
So Instruction bland,
With young-eyed Sympathy, went hand in hand
O'er classic fields; and let my heart confess
Its holier joy, when I essayed to climb
The lonely heights where Shakspeare sat sublime,
Lord of the mighty spell: around him press
Spirits and fairy-forms. He, ruling wide 100
His visionary world, bids terror fill
The shivering breast, or softer pity thrill
Ev'n to the inmost heart. Within me died
All thoughts of this low earth, and higher powers
Seemed in my soul to stir; till, strained too long,
The senses sunk.
Then, Ossian, thy wild song
Haply beguiled the unheeded midnight hours,
And, like the blast that swept Berrathron's towers,
Came pleasant and yet mournful to my soul! 110
See o'er the autumnal heath the gray mists roll!
Hark to the dim ghosts' faint and feeble cry,
As on the cloudy tempest they pass by!
Saw ye huge Loda's spectre-shape advance,
Through which the stars look pale!
Nor ceased the trance
Which bound the erring fancy, till dark night[Pg 139]
Flew silent by, and at my window-grate
The morning bird sang loud: nor less delight
The spirit felt, when still and charmed I sate 120
Great Milton's solemn harmonies to hear,
That swell from the full chord, and strong and clear,
Beyond the tuneless couplets' weak control,
Their long-commingling diapason roll,
In varied sweetness.
Nor, amidst the choir
Of pealing minstrelsy, was thy own lyre,
Warton, unheard;—as Fancy poured the song,
The measured music flowed along,
Till all the heart and all the sense 130
Felt her divinest influence,
In throbbing sympathy:—Prepare the car,[86]
And whirl us, goddess, to the war,
Where crimson banners fire the skies,
Where the mingled shouts arise,
Where the steed, with fetlock red,
Tramples the dying and the dead;
And amain, from side to side,
Death his pale horse is seen to ride!
Or rather, sweet enthusiast, lead 140
Our footsteps to the cowslip mead,
Where, as the magic spell is wound,
Dying music floats around:—
Or seek we some gray ruin's shade,
And pity the cold beggar,[87] laid
Beneath the ivy-rustling tower,
At the dreary midnight hour,
Scarce sheltered from the drifting snow;
While her dark locks the bleak winds blow[Pg 140]
O'er her sleeping infant's cheek! 150
Then let the shrilling trumpet speak,
And pierce in louder tones the ear,
Till, while it peals, we seem to hear
The sounding march, as of the Theban's song;[88]
And varied numbers, in their course,
With gathering fulness, and collected force,
Like the broad cataract, swell and sweep along!
Struck by the sounds, what wonder that I laid,
As thou, O Warton! didst the theme inspire,
My inexperienced hand upon the lyre, 160
And soon with transient touch faint music made,
As soon forgotten!
So I loved to lie
By the wild streams of elfin poesy,
Rapt in strange musings; but when life began,
I never roamed a visionary man;
For, taught by thee, I learned with sober eyes
To look on life's severe realities.
I never made (a dream-distempered thing)
Poor Fiction's realm my world; but to cold Truth 170
Subdued the vivid shapings of my youth.
Save when the drisly woods were murmuring,
Or some hard crosses had my spirit bowed;
Then I have left, unseen, the careless crowd,
And sought the dark sea roaring, or the steep
That braved the storm; or in the forest deep,
As all its gray leaves rustled, wooed the tone
Of the loved lyre, that, in my springtide gone,
Waked me to transport.
Eighteen summers now 180
Have smiled on Itchin's margin, since the time
When these delightful visions of our prime[Pg 141]
Rose on my view in loveliness. And thou
Friend of my muse, in thy death-bed art cold,
Who, with the tenderest touches, didst unfold
The shrinking leaves of Fancy, else unseen
And shelterless: therefore to thee are due
Whate'er their summer sweetness; and I strew,
Sadly, such flowerets as on hillocks green,
Or mountain-slope, or hedge-row, yet my hand 190
May cull, with many a recollection bland,
And mingled sorrow, Warton, on thy tomb,
To whom, if bloom they boast, they owe their bloom!

[79] Catherine Hill.

[80] St Cross Hospital.

[81] Homer.

[82] See the last book.

[83] Theocritus.

[84] Μεγαλη μοιρα—Soph.

[85] Philoctetes, see Sophocles. Youthful impressions on first reading it.

[86] See Warton's "Ode to Fancy."

[87] Alluding to some pathetic lines in Warton's "Ode to Fancy."

[88] See Warton's "Ode on West's Translation of Pindar."


EPITAPH ON H. WALMSLEY, ESQ.,

IN ALVERSTOKE CHURCH, HANTS.

Oh! they shall ne'er forget thee, they who knew
Thy soul benevolent, sincere, and true;
The poor thy kindness cheered, thy bounty fed,
Whom age left shivering in its dreariest shed;
Thy friends, who sorrowing saw thee, when disease
Seemed first the genial stream of life to freeze,
Pale from thy hospitable home depart,
Thy hand still open, and yet warm thy heart!
But how shall she her love, her loss express,
Thy widow, in this uttermost distress,
When she with anguish hears her lisping train
Upon their buried father call in vain!
She wipes the tear despair had forced to flow,
She lifts her look beyond this vale of woe,
And rests (while humbled in the dust she kneels)
On Him who only knows how much she feels.[Pg 142]

AGE.

Age, thou the loss of health and friends shalt mourn!
But thou art passing to that night-still bourne,
Where labour sleeps. The linnet, chattering loud
To the May morn, shall sing; thou, in thy shroud,
Forgetful and forgotten, sink to rest;
And grass-green be the sod upon thy breast!

ON A LANDSCAPE BY RUBENS.

Nay, let us gaze, ev'n till the sense is full,
Upon the rich creation, shadowed so
That not great Nature, in her loftiest pomp
Of living beauty, ever on the sight
Rose more magnificent; nor aught so fair
Hath Fancy, in her wildest, brightest mood,
Imaged of things most lovely, when the sounds
Of this cold cloudy world at distance sink,
And all alone the warm idea lives
Of what is great, or beautiful, or good, 10
In Nature's general plan.
So the vast scope,
O Rubens! of thy mighty mind, and such
The fervour of thy pencil, pouring wide
The still illumination, that the mind
Pauses, absorbed, and scarcely thinks what powers
Of mortal art the sweet enchantment wrought.
She sees the painter, with no human touch,
Create, embellish, animate at will,
The mimic scenes, from Nature's ampler range 20
Caught as by inspiration; while the clouds,[Pg 143]
High wandering, and the fairest form of things,
Seem at his bidding to emerge, and burn
With radiance and with life!
Let us, subdued,
Now to the magic of the moment lose
The thoughts of life, and mingle every sense
Ev'n in the scenes before us!
The fresh morn
Of summer shines; the white clouds of the east 30
Are crisped; beneath, the bright blue champaign steams;
The banks, the meadows, and the flowers, send up
An incensed exhalation, like the meek
And holy praise of Him whose soul's deep joy
The lone woods witness. Thou, whose heart is sick
Of vanities; who, in the throng of men,
Dost feel no lenient fellowship; whose eye
Turns, with a languid carelessness, around
Upon the toiling crowd, still murmuring on,
Restless;—oh, think, in summer scenes like these, 40
How sweet the sense of quiet gladness is,
That, like the silent breath of morning, steals
From lowly nooks, and feels itself expand
Amid the works of Nature, to the Power
That made them: to the awful thought of Him
Who, when the morning stars shouted for joy,
Bade the great sun from tenfold darkness burst,
The green earth roll in light, and solitude
First hear the voice of man, whilst hills and woods
Stood eminent, in orient hues arrayed, 50
His dwelling; and all living Nature smiled,
As in this pictured semblance, beaming full
Before us!
Mark again the various view:
Some city's far-off spires and domes appear,[Pg 144]
Breaking the long horizon, where the morn
Sits blue and soft: what glowing imagery
Is spread beneath!—Towns, villages, light smoke,
And scarce-seen windmill-sails, and devious woods,
Chequering 'mid sunshine the grass-level land, 60
That stretches from the sight.
Now nearer trace
The forms of trees distinct—the broad brown oak;
The poplars, that, with silvery trunks, incline,
Shading the lonely castle; flakes of light
Are flung behind the massy groups, that, now
Enlarging and enlarging still, unfold
Their separate beauties. But awhile delay;
Pass the foot-bridge, and listen (for we hear,
Or think we hear her), listen to the song 70
Of yonder milkmaid, as she brims her pail;
Whilst, in the yellow pasture, pensive near,
The red cows ruminate.
Break off, break off, for lo! where, all alarmed,
The small birds,[89] from the late resounding perch,
Fly various, hushed their early song; and mark,
Beneath the darkness of the bramble-bank
That overhangs the half-seen brook, where nod
The flowing rushes, dew-besprent, with breast
Ruddy, and emerald wing, the kingfisher 80
Steals through the dripping sedge away. What shape
Of terrors scares the woodland habitants,
Marring the music of the dawn? Look round;
See, where he creeps, beneath the willowy stump,
Cowering and low, step silent after step,
The booted fowler: keen his look, and fixed
Upon the adverse bank, while, with firm hand,[Pg 145]
He grasps the deadly tube; his dog, with ears
Hung back, and still and steady eye of fire,
Points to the prey; the boor, intent, moves on 90
Panting, and creeping close beneath the leaves,
And fears lest ev'n the rustling reeds betray
His footfall; nearer yet, and yet more near,
He stalks. Who now shall save the heedless group,
The speckled partridges, that in the sun,
On yonder hillock green, across the stream,
Bask unalarmed beneath the hawthorn bush,
Whose aged boughs the crawling blackberry
Entwines!
And thus, upon the sweetest scenes 100
Of human loveliness, and social peace
Domestic, when the full fond heart reclines
Upon its hopes, and almost mingles tears
Of joy, to think that in this hollow world
Such bliss should be its portion; then (alas,
The bitter change!), then, with his unheard step,
In darkness shrouded, yet approaching fast,
Death, from amidst the sunny flowers, lifts up
His giant dread anatomy, and smites,
Smites the fair prospect once, whilst every bloom 110
Hangs shrivelled, and a sound of mourning fills
The lone and blasted valley: but no sound
Is here of sorrow or of death, though she,
The country Kate, with shining morning cheek
(Who, in the tumbril, with her market-gear,
Sits seated high), seems to expect the flash
Exploding, that shall lay the innocent
And feathered tenants of the landscape low.
Not so the clown, who, heedless whether life
Or death betide, across the plashy ford[Pg 146] 120
Drives slow; the beasts plod on, foot following foot,
Aged and grave, with half-erected ears,
As now his whip above their matted manes
Hangs tremulous, while the dark and shallow stream
Flashes beneath their fetlock: he, astride
On harness saddle, not a sidelong look
Deigns at the breathing landscape, or the maid
Smiling behind; the cold and lifeless calf
Her sole companion: and so mated oft
Is some sweet maid, whose thrilling heart was formed 130
For dearer fellowship. But lift the eye,
And hail the abode of rural ease. The man
Walks forth, from yonder antique hall, that looks
The mistress of the scene; its turrets gleam
Amid the trees, and cheerful smoke is seen,
As if no spectred shape (though most retired
The spot) there ever wandered, stoled in white,
Along the midnight chambers; but quaint Mab
Her tiny revels led, till the rare dawn
Peeped out, and chanticleer his shrill alarm 140
Beneath the window rang, then, with a wink,
The shadowy rout have vanished!
As the morn
Jocund ascends, how lovely is the view
To him who owns the fair domain! The friend
Of his still hours is near, to whom he vowed
His truth; her eyes reflect his bliss; his heart
Beats high with joy; his little children play,
Pleased, in his pathway; one the scattered flowers
Straggling collects, the other spreads its arms, 150
In speechless blandishment, upon the neck
Of its caressing nurse.
Still let us gaze,
And image every form of heartfelt joy[Pg 147]
Which scenes like these bestow, that charm the sight,
Yet soothe the spirit. All is quiet here,
Yet cheerful as the green sea, when it shines
In some still bay, shines in its loneliness
Beneath the breeze, that moves, and hardly moves,
The placid surface. 160
On the balustrade
Of the old bridge, that o'er the moat is thrown,
The fisher with his angle leans intent,
And turns, from the bright pomp of spreading plains,
To watch the nimble fry, that glancing oft
Beneath the gray arch shoot! Oh, happiest he
Who steals through life, untroubled as unseen!
The distant city, with its crowded spires,
That dimly shines upon his view, awakes
No thought but that of pleasure more composed, 170
As the winds whisper him to sounder sleep.
He leans upon the faithful arm of her
For whom his youthful heart beat, fondly beat,
When life was new: time steals away, yet health
And exercise are his; and in these shades,
Though sometimes he has mourned a proud world's wrong,
He feels an independence that all cares
Breasts with a carol of content; he hears
The green leaves of his old paternal trees
Make music, soothing as they stir: the elm, 180
And poplar with its silvery trunk, that shades
The green sward of the bank before his porch,
Are to him as companions;—whilst he turns
With more endearment to the living smile
Of those his infants, who, when he is dead,
Shall hear the music of the self-same trees
Waving, till years roll on, and their gray hairs
Go to the dust in peace.[Pg 148]
Away, sad thought!
Lo! where the morning light, through the dark wood, 190
Upon the window-pane is flung like fire,
Hail, Life and Hope; and thou, great work of art,
That 'mid this populous and busy swarm
Of men dost smile serene, as with the hues
Of fairest, grandest Nature; may'st thou speak
Not vainly of the endearments and best joys
That Nature yields. The manliest heart that swells
With honest English feelings,—while the eye,
Saddened, but not cast down, beholds far off
The darkness of the onward rolling storm,— 200
Charmed for a moment by this mantling view,
Its anxious tumults shall suspend: and such,
The pensive patriot shall exclaim, thy scenes,
My own beloved country, such the abode
Of rural peace! and while the soul has warmth,
And voice has energy, the brave arm strength,
England, thou shalt not fall! The day shall come,
Yes, and now is, that thou shalt lift thyself;
And woe to him who sets upon thy shores
His hostile foot! Proud victor though he be, 210
His bloody march shall never soil a flower
That hangs its sweet head, in the morning dew,
On thy green village banks! His mustered hosts
Shall be rolled back in thousands, and the surge
Bury them! Then, when peace illumes once more,
My country, thy green nooks and inmost vales,
It will be sweet amidst the forest glens
To stray, and think upon the distant storm
That howled, but injured not!
At thoughts like these, 220
What heart, what English heart, but shall beat high!
Meantime, its keen flash passed, thine eye intent,[Pg 149]
Beaumont, shall trace the master-strokes of art,
And view the assemblage of the finished piece,
As with his skill who formed it: ruder views,
Savage, with solitary pines, hung high
Amid the broken crags (where scowling wait
The fierce banditti), stern Salvator's hand
Shall aptly shade: o'er Poussin's clustering domes,
With ampler umbrage, the black woods shall hang, 230
Beneath whose waving gloom the sudden flash
Of broken light upon the brawling stream
Is flung below.
Aërial Claude shall paint
The gray fane peering o'er the summer woods,
The azure lake below, or distant seas,
And sails, in the pellucid atmosphere,
Soft gleaming to the morn. Dark on the rock,
Where the red lightnings burst, shall Wilson stand,
Like mighty Shakspeare, whom the imps of fire 240
Await. Nor oh, sweet Gainsborough! shall thee
The Muse forget, whose simple landscape smiles
Attractive, whether we delight to view
The cottage chimney through the high wood peep;
Or beggar beauty stretch her little hand,
With look most innocent; or homeward kine
Wind through the hollow road at eventide,
Or browse the straggling branches.
Scenes like these
Shall charm all hearts, while truth and beauty live, 250
And Nature's pictured loveliness shall own
Each master's varied touch; but chiefly thou,
Great Rubens! shalt the willing senses lead,
Enamoured of the varied imagery,
That fills the vivid canvas, swelling still
On the enraptured eye of taste, and still[Pg 150]
New charms unfolding; though minute, yet grand,
Simple, yet most luxuriant; every light
And every shade, greatly opposed, and all
Subserving to one magical effect 260
Of truth and harmony.
So glows the scene;
And to the pensive thought refined displays
The richest rural poem. Oh, may views
So pictured animate thy classic mind,
Beaumont, to wander 'mid Sicilian scenes,
And catch the beauties of the pastoral bard,[90]
Shadowing his wildest landscapes! Ætna's fires,
Bebrycian rocks, Anapus' holy stream,
And woods of ancient Pan; the broken crag 270
And the old fisher here; the purple vines
There bending; and the smiling boy set down
To guard, who, innocent and happy, weaves,
Intent, his rushy basket, to ensnare
The chirping grasshoppers, nor sees the while
The lean fox meditate her morning meal,
Eyeing his scrip askance; whilst further on
Another treads the purple grapes—he sits,
Nor aught regards, but the green rush he weaves.
O Beaumont! let this pomp of light and shade 280
Wake thee, to paint the woods that the sweet Muse
Has consecrated: then the summer scenes
Of Phasidamus, clad in richer light,
Shall glow, the glancing poplars, and clear fount;
While distant times admire (as now we trace
This summer-mantling view) hoar Ætna's pines,
The vine-hung grotts, and branching planes, that shade
The silver Arethusa's stealing wave.

[89] The landscape is on so large a scale, that all these circumstances are most accurately delineated.

[90] Theocritus. Alluding to a design of illustrating the picturesque character of the venerable Sicilian, by paintings of Sir George, from new translations of Messrs Sotheby, Rogers, Howley, W. Spencer, and the author.[Pg 151]


THE HARP, AND DESPAIR, OF COWPER.

Sweet bard, whose tones great Milton might approve,
And Shakspeare, from high Fancy's sphere,
Turning to the sound his ear,
Bend down a look of sympathy and love;
Oh, swell the lyre again,
As if in full accord it poured an angel's strain!
But oh! what means that look aghast,
Ev'n whilst it seemed in holy trance,
On scenes of bliss above to glance!
Was it a fiend of darkness passed!
Oh, speak—
Paleness is upon his cheek—
On his brow the big drops stand,
To airy vacancy
Points the dread silence of his eye,
And the loved lyre it falls, falls from his nerveless hand!
Come, peace of mind, delightful guest!
Oh, come, and make thy downy nest
Once more on his sad heart!
Meek Faith, a drop of comfort shed;
Sweet Hope, support his aged head;
And Charity, avert the burning dart!
Fruitless the prayer—the night of deeper woes
Seems o'er the head even now to close;
In vain the path of purity he trod,
In vain, in vain,
He poured from Fancy's shell his sweetest hermit strain—
He has no hope on earth: forsake him not, O God![Pg 152]

STANZAS FOR MUSIC.

I trust the happy hour will come, 1
That shall to peace thy breast restore;
And that we two, beloved friend,
Shall one day meet to part no more.
It grieves me most, that parting thus, 2
All my soul feels I dare not speak;
And when I turn me from thy sight,
The tears in silence wet my cheek.
Yet I look forward to the time, 3
That shall each wound of sorrow heal;
When I may press thee to my heart,
And tell thee all that now I feel.

MUSIC.

O Music! if thou hast a charm
That may the sense of pain disarm,
Be all thy tender tones addressed
To soothe to peace my Harriet's breast;
And bid the magic of thy strain
So still the wakeful throb of pain,
That, rapt in the delightful measure,
Sweet Hope again may whisper pleasure,
And seem the notes of Spring to hear,
Prelusive to a happier year!
And if thy magic can restore
The shade of days that smile no more,[Pg 153]
And softer, sweeter colours give
To scenes that in remembrance live;
Be to her pensive heart a friend,
And, whilst the tender shadows blend,
Recall, ere the brief trace be lost,
Each moment that she prized the most.
Perhaps, when many a cheerful day
Hereafter shall have stolen away,
If then some old and favourite strain
Should bring back to her thoughts again
The hours when, silent by her side,
I listened to her song and sighed;
Perhaps a long-forgotten name,
A thought, if not a tear may claim;
And when in distant plains away,
Alone I count each lingering day,
She may a silent prayer prefer
For him whose heart once bled for her.

ABSENCE.

OCTOBER 26, 1791.

How shall I cheat the heavy hours, of thee
Deprived, of thy kind looks and converse sweet,
Now that the waving grove the dark storms beat,
And wintry winds sad sounding o'er the lea,[91]
Scatter the sallow leaf! I would believe,
Thou, at this hour, with tearful tenderness
Dost muse on absent images, and press
In thought my hand, and say: Oh do not grieve,
Friend of my heart! at wayward fortune's power;
One day we shall be happy, and each hour[Pg 154]
Of pain forget, cheered by the summer ray.
These thoughts beguile my sorrow for thy loss,
And, as the aged pines their dark heads toss,
Oft steal the sense of solitude away.
So am I sadly soothed, yet do I cast
A wishful glance upon the seasons past,
And think how different was the happy tide,
When thou, with looks of love, wert smiling by my side.

[91] Summer-Lees, near Knoyle.


FAIRY SKETCH.

SCENE—NETLEY ABBEY.

There was a morrice on the moonlight plain,
And music echoed in the woody glade,
For fay-like forms, as of Titania's train,
Upon a summer eve, beneath the shade
Of Netley's ivied ruins, to the sound
Of sprightly minstrelsy did beat the ground:—
Come, take hands! and lightly move,
While our boat, in yonder cove,
Rests upon the darkening sea;
Come, take hands, and follow me!
Netley! thy dim and desolated fane
Hath heard, perhaps, the spirits of the night
Shrieking, at times, amid the wind and rain;
Or haply, when the full-orbed moon shone bright,
Thy glimmering aisles have echoed to the song
Of fairy Mab, who led her shadowy masque along.
Now, as to the sprightly sound
Of moonlight minstrelsy we beat the ground;[Pg 155]
From the pale nooks, in accent clear,
Now, methinks, her voice I hear,
Sounding o'er the darksome sea;
Come, take hands, and follow me!
Here, beneath the solemn wood,
When faintly-blue is all the sky,
And the moon is still on high,
To the murmurs of the flood,
To the glimpses of the night,
We perform our airy rite;—
Care and pain to us unknown,
To the darkening seas are flown.
Hear no more life's fretful noise,
Heed not here pale Envy's sting,
Far from life's distempered joys;
To the waters murmuring,
To the shadows of the sky,
To the moon that rides on high,
To the glimpses of the night,
We perform our airy rite,
While care and pain, to us unknown,
To the darkening seas are flown.

INSCRIPTION.

Come, and where these runnels fall,
Listen to my madrigal!
Far from all sounds of all the strife,
That murmur through the walks of life;[Pg 156]
From grief, inquietude, and fears,
From scenes of riot, or of tears;
From passions, cankering day by day,
That wear the inmost heart away;
From pale Detraction's envious spite,
That worries where it fears to bite;
From mad Ambition's worldly chase,
Come, and in this shady place,
Be thine Contentment's humble joys,
And a life that makes no noise,
Save when fancy, musing long,
Turns to desultory song;[92]
And wakes some lonely melody,
Like the water dripping by.
Come, and where these runnels fall,
Listen to my madrigal!

Bremhill Garden, Sept. 1808.

[92] "And Fancy, void of sorrow, turns to song."—Parnell.


PICTURES FROM THEOCRITUS.

FROM IDYL I.

Αδυ τι το ψθὑρισμα, etc.

Goat-herd, how sweet above the lucid spring
The high pines wave with breezy murmuring!
So sweet thy song, whose music might succeed
To the wild melodies of Pan's own reed.
THYRSIS.
More sweet thy pipe's enchanting melody
Than streams that fall from broken rocks on high.
Say, by the nymphs, that guard the sacred scene,
Where lowly tamarisks shade these hillocks green,
At noontide shall we lie?[Pg 157]
No; for o'erwearied with the forest chase,
Pan, the great hunter god, sleeps in this place.
Beneath the branching elm, while thy sad verse,
O Thyrsis! Daphnis' sorrows shall rehearse,
Fronting the wood-nymph's solitary seat,
Whose fountains flash amid the dark retreat;
Where the old statue leans, and brown oaks wave
Their ancient umbrage o'er the pastoral cave;
There will we rest, and thou, as erst, prolong
The sweet enchantment of the Doric song!
FROM THE SAME IDYL.
Mark, where the beetling precipice appears,
The toil of the old fisher, gray with years;
Mark, as to drag the laden net he strains,
The labouring muscle and the swelling veins!
There, in the sun, the clustered vineyard bends,
And shines empurpled, as the morn ascends!
A little boy, with idly-happy mien,
To guard the grapes upon the ground is seen;
Two wily foxes creeping round appear,—
The scrip that holds his morning meal is near,—
One breaks the bending vines; with longing lip,
And look askance, one eyes the tempting scrip.
He plats and plats his rushy net all day,
And makes the vagrant grasshopper his prey;
He plats his net, intent with idle care,
Nor heeds how vineyard, grape, or scrip may fare.
FROM THE SAME.
Where were ye, nymphs, when Daphnis drooped with love?
In fair Peneus' Tempe, or the grove
Of Pindus! Nor your pastimes did ye keep,
Where huge Anapus' torrent waters sweep;[Pg 158]
On Ætna's height, ah! impotent to save,
Nor yet where Akis winds his holy wave!
FROM THE SAME.
Pan, Pan, oh mighty hunter! whether now,
Thou roamest o'er Lyceus' shaggy brow,
Or Mœnalaus, outstretched in amplest shade,
Thy solitary footsteps have delayed;
Leave Helice's romantic rock a while,
And haste, oh haste, to the Sicilian isle;
Leave the dread monument, approached with fear,
That Lycaonian tomb the gods revere.
Here cease, Sicilian Muse, the Doric lay;—
Come, Forest King, and bear this pipe away;
Daphnis, subdued by love, and bowed with woe,
Sinks, sinks for ever to the shades below.
FROM IDYL VII.
He left us;—we, the hour of parting come,
To Prasidamus' hospitable home,
Myself and Eucritus, together wend,
With young Amynticus, our blooming friend:
There, all delighted, through the summer day,
On beds of rushes, pillowed deep, we lay;
Around, the lentils, newly cut, were spread;
Dark elms and poplars whispered o'er our head;
A hallowed stream, to all the wood-nymphs dear,
Fresh from the rocky cavern murmured near;
Beneath the fruit-leaves' many-mantling shade,
The grasshoppers a coil incessant made;
From the wild thorny thickets, heard remote,
The wood-lark trilled his far-resounding note;
Loud sung the thrush, musician of the scene,
And soft and sweet was heard the dove's sad note between;[Pg 159]
Then yellow bees, whose murmur soothed the ear,
Went idly flitting round the fountain clear.
Summer and Autumn seemed at once to meet,
Filling with redolence the blest retreat,
While the ripe pear came rolling to our feet.
FROM IDYL XXII.
When the famed Argo now secure had passed
The crushing rocks,[93] and that terrific strait
That guards the wintry Pontic, the tall ship
Reached wild Bebrycia's shores; bearing like gods
Her god-descended chiefs. They, from her sides,
With scaling steps descend, and on the shore,
Savage, and sad, and beat by ocean winds,
Strewed their rough beds, and on the casual fire
The vessels place. The brothers, by themselves,
Castor and red-haired Pollux, wander far
Into the forest solitudes. A wood
Immense and dark, shagging the mountain side,
Before them rose; a cold and sparkling fount
Welled with perpetual lapse, beneath its feet,
Of purest water clear; scattering below,
Streams as of silver and of crystal rose,
Bright from the bottom: Pines, of stateliest height,
Poplar, and plane, and cypress, branching wide,
Were near, thick bordered by the scented flowers
That lured the honeyed bee, when spring declines,
Thick swarming o'er the meadows. There all day
A huge man sat, of savage, wild aspect;
His breast stood roundly forward, his broad back
Seemed as of iron, such as might befit
A vast Colossus sculptured. Full to view[Pg 160]
The muscles of his brawny shoulders stood,
Like the round mountain-stones the torrent wave
Has polished; from his neck and back hung down
A lion's skin, held by its claws. Him first
The red-haired youth addressed: Hail, stranger, hail,
And say, what tribes unknown inhabit here!
Take to the seas thy Hail: I ask it not,
Who never saw before, or thee, or thine.
Courage! thou seest not men that are unjust
Or cruel.
Courage shall I learn from thee!
Thy heart is savage; thou art passion's slave.
Such as I am thou seest; but land of thine
I tread not.
Come, these hospitable gifts
Accept, and part in peace.
No: not from thee.
My gifts are yet in store.
Say, may we drink
Of this clear fount?
Ask, when wan thirst has parched
Thy lips.
What present shall I give to thee?
None. Stand before me as a man; lift high
Thy brandished arms, and try, weak pugilist,
Thy strength.
But say, with whom shall I contend?
Thou seest him here; nor in his art unskilled.
Then what shall be the prize of him who wins?
Or thou shalt be my slave, or I be thine.
The crested birds so fight.
Whether like birds
Or lions, for no other prize fight we!
He said: and sounded loud his hollow conch;[Pg 161]
The gaunt Bebrycian brethren, at the sound,
With long lank hair, come flocking to the shade
Of that vast plain.
Then Castor hied, and called
The hero chiefs from the Magnesian[94] ship.

[93] Rocks which were supposed to strike one against the other, and so crush the ship that attempted to pass between.

[94] So called, from the country where it was built.


SKETCHES IN THE EXHIBITION, 1805.

What various objects strike with various force,
Achilles, Hebe, and Sir Watkin's horse!
Here summer scenes, there Pentland's stormy ridge,
Lords, ladies, Noah's ark, and Cranford bridge!
Some that display the elegant design,
The lucid colours, and the flowing line;
Some that might make, alas! Walsh Porter[95] stare,
And wonder how the devil they got there!
LADY M——VE.
How clear a strife of light and shade is spread!
The face how touched with nature's loveliest red!
The eye, how eloquent, and yet how meek!
The glow subdued, yet mantling on thy cheek!
M——ve! I mark alone thy beauteous face,
But all is nature, dignity, and grace!
HON. MISS MERCER.—HOPNER.
Oh! hide those tempting eyes, that faultless form,
Those looks with feeling and with nature warm;
The neck, the softly-swelling bosom hide,
Nor, wanton gales, blow the light vest aside;[Pg 162]
For who, when beauties more than life excite
Silent applause, can gaze without delight!
But innocence, enchanting maid, is thine;
Thine eyes in liquid light unconscious shine;
And may thy breast no other feelings prove,
Than those of sympathy and mutual love!

EXHIBITION, 1807.

BLIND FIDDLER.—WILKIE.

With mirth unfeigned the cottage chimney rings,
Though only vocal with four fiddle-strings:
And see, the poor blind fiddler draws his bow,
And lifts intent his time-denoting toe;
While yonder maid, as blythe as birds in June,
You almost hear her whistle to the tune!
Hard by, a lad, in imitative guise,
Fixed, fiddle-like, the broken bellows plies;
Before the hearth, with looks of honest joy,
The father chirrups to the chattering boy,
And snaps his lifted thumbs with mimic glee,
To the glad urchin on his mother's knee!
MORNING.—TURNER.
Up! for the morning shines with welcome ray,
And to the sunny seabeach let us stray.
What orient hues proclaim the master's hand!
How light the wave upon the half-wet sand!
How beautiful the sun, as still we gaze,
Streams all diffusive through the opening haze!
Artist—when to the thunder's pealing sound,
Fire mixed with hailstones ran upon the ground,
When partial darkness the dread prospect hid,
And sole aspired the aged pyramid[Pg 163]
Sublimity thy genius seemed to guide
O'er Egypt's champaign, desolate and wide;
But here delightful beauty reigns alone,
And decks the morning scene with graces all her own.
KESWICK.—SIR GEORGE BEAUMONT.
How shall I praise thee, Beaumont, whose nice skill
Can mould the soft and shadowy scene at will;
Chastise to harmony each gaudy ray,
Simple, yet grand, the mountain scene display;
The lake where sober evening seems to sleep,
Hills far retiring into umbrage deep;
Blend all with classic, pure, poetic taste,
And strike the more with forms and colours chaste!
MARKET-DAY.—CALCOT.
Through the wood's maze our eyes delighted stray,
To mark the rustics on the market-day.
Beneath the branches winds the long white road;
Here peeps the rustic cottager's abode;
There in the morning sun, the children play,
Or the crone creeps along the dusty way.
SCENE IN FRANCE.—LOUTHERBOURG.
Artist, I own thy genius; but the touch
May be too restless, and the glare too much:
And sure none ever saw a landscape shine,
Basking in beams of such a sun as thine,
But felt a fervid dew upon his phiz,
And panting cried, O Lord, how hot it is!
DEATH OF NELSON.—WEST.
Turn to Britannia's triumphs on the main:
See Nelson, pale and fainting, 'mid the slain,[Pg 164]
Whilst Victory sighs, stern in the garb of war,
And points through clouds the rocks of Trafalgar!
Here cease the strain; but while thy hulls shall ride,
Britain, dark shadowing the tumultuous tide,
May other Nelsons, on the sanguine main,
Guide, like a god, the battle's hurricane;
And when the funeral's transient pomp is past,
High hung the banner, hushed the battle's blast,
May the brave character to ages shine,
And Genius consecrate the immortal shrine!

[95] A gentleman well known for his taste and fine collection.


SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE.[96]

INSCRIBED TO THE MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE.

The moonlight is without; and I could lose
An hour to gaze, though Taste and Splendour here,
As in a lustrous fairy palace, reign!
Regardless of the lights that blaze within,
I look upon the wide and silent sea,
That in the shadowy moonbeam sleeps:
How still,
Nor heard to murmur, or to move, it lies;
Shining in Fancy's eye, like the soft gleam,
The eve of pleasant yesterdays! 10
The clouds
Have all sunk westward, and the host of stars
Seem in their watches set, as gazing on;
While night's fair empress, sole and beautiful,
Holds her illustrious course through the mid heavens[Pg 165]
Supreme, the spectacle, for such she looks,
Of gazing worlds!
How different is the scene
That lies beneath this arched window's height!
The town, that murmured through the busy day, 20
Is hushed; the roofs one solemn breadth of shade
Veils; but the towers, and taper spires above,
The pinnets, and the gray embattled walls,
And masts that throng around the southern pier,
Shine all distinct in light; and mark, remote,
O'er yonder elms, St Mary's modest fane.
Oh! if such views may please, to me they shine
How more attractive! but few years have passed,
Since there I saw youth, health, and happiness,
All circling round an aged sire,[97] whose hairs 30
Are now in peace gone down; he was to me
A friend, and almost with a father's smile
Hung o'er my infant Muse. The cheerful voice
Of fellowship, the song of harmony,
And mirth, and wit,[98] were there.
That scene is passed:
Cold death and separation have dissolved
The evening circle of once-happy friends!
So has it ever fared, and so must fare,
With all! I see the moonlight watery tract 40
That shines far off, beneath the forest-shades:
What seems it, but the mirror of that tide,
Which noiseless, 'mid the changes of the world,
Holds its inevitable course, the tide
Of years departing; to the distant eye
Still seeming motionless, though hurrying on
From morn till midnight, bearing, as it flows,[Pg 166]
The sails of pleasurable barks! These gleam
To-day, to-morrow other passing sails
Catch the like sunshine of the vernal morn. 50
Our pleasant days are as the moon's brief light
On the pale ripple, passing as it shines!
But shall the pensive bard for this lament,
Who knows how transitory are all worlds
Before His eye who made them!
Cease the strain;
And welcome still the social intercourse
That soothes the world's loud jarring, till the hour
When, universal darkness wrapping all
This nether scene, a light from heaven shall stream 60
Through clouds dividing, and a voice be heard:
Here only pure and lasting bliss is found!

[96] Southampton Castle is a magnificent pile, erected by the Marquis of Lansdowne, commanding the most striking views of the river, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, et etc.

[97] Late Dean of Winchester, Dr Newton Ogle.

[98] I speak this of Mr Sheridan, who was often of the party.


THE WINDS.

When dark November bade the leaves adieu,
And the gale sung amid the sea-boy's shrouds,
Methought I saw four winged forms, that flew,
With garments streaming light, amid the clouds;
From adverse regions of the sky,
In dim succession, they went by.
The first, as o'er the billowy deep he passed,
Blew from its brazen trump a far-resounding blast.
Upon a beaked promontory high,
With streaming heart, and cloudy brow severe, 10
Marked ye the father of the frowning year![99]
Dark vapours rolled o'er the tempestuous sky,[Pg 167]
When creeping Winter from his cave came forth;
Stern courier of the storm, he cried, what from the north?
NORTH WIND.
From the vast and desert deeps,
Where the lonely Kraken sleeps,
Where fixed the icy mountains high
Glimmer to the twilight sky;
Where, six lingering months to last, 20
The night has closed, the day is past,
Father, lo, I come, I come:
I have heard the wizard's drum,
And the withered Lapland hag,
Seal, with muttered spell, her bag:
O'er mountains white, and forests sere,
I flew, and with a wink am here.
WINTER.
Spirit of unwearied wing,
From the Baltic's frozen main,
From the Russ's bleak domain, 30
Say, what tidings dost thou bring!
Shouts, and the noise of battle! and again
The winged wind blew loud a deadly blast;
Shouts, and the noise of battle! the long main
Seemed with hoarse voice to answer as he passed.
The moody South went by, and silence kept;
The cloudy rack oft hid his mournful mien,
And frequent fell the showers, as if he wept
The eternal havoc of this mortal scene.
He had heard the yell, and cry, 40
And howling dance of Anarchy,[Pg 168]
Where the Rhone, with rushing flood,
Murmured to the main, through blood:—
He seemed to wish he could for ever throw
His misty mantle o'er a world of woe.
But rousing him from his desponding trance,
Cold Eurus blew his sharp and shrilling horn;
In his right hand he bore an icy lance,
That far off glittered in the frost of morn;
The old man knew the clarion from afar, 50
What from the East? he cried.
EAST WIND.
Shouts, and the noise of war!
Far o'er the land hath been my flight,
O'er many a forest dark as night,
O'er champaigns where the Tartar speeds,
O'er Wolga's wild and giant reeds,
O'er the Carpathian summits hoar,
Beneath whose snows and shadows frore,
Poland's level length unfolds
Her trackless woods and wildering wolds, 60
Like a spirit, seeking rest,
I have passed from east to west,
While sounds of discord and lament
Rose from the earth where'er I went.
I care not; hurrying, as in scorn,
I shook my lance, and blew my horn;
The day shows clear; and merrily
Along the Atlantic now I fly.
Who comes in soft and spicy vest,
From the mild regions of the West? 70
An azure veil bends waving o'er his head,
And showers of violets from his hands are shed.
'Tis Zephyr, with a look as young and fair[Pg 169]
As when his lucid wings conveyed
That beautiful and gentle maid
Psyche, transported through the air,
The blissful couch of Love's own god to share.
Winter, avaunt! thy haggard eye
Will scare him, as he wanders by,
Him and the timid butterfly. 80
He brings again the morn of May;
The lark, amid the clear blue sky,
Carols, but is not seen so high,
And all the winter's winds fly far away!
I cried: O Father of the world, whose might
The storm, the darkness, and the winds obey,
Oh, when will thus the long tempestuous night
Of warfare and of woe be rolled away!
Oh, when will cease the uproar and the din,
And Peace breathe soft, Summer is coming in! 90

[99] "Then comes the father of the tempest forth."—Thomson.


ON WILLIAM SOMMERS OF BREMHILL.

When will the grave shelter thy few gray hairs,
O aged man! Thy sand is almost run,
And many a year, in vain, to meet the sun,
Thine eyes have rolled in darkness; want and cares
Have been thy visitants from morn to morn.
While trembling on existence thou dost live,
Accept what human charity can give;
But standing thus, time-palsied, and forlorn,
Like a scathed oak, of all its boughs bereft,
God and the grave are thy best refuge left.
When the bells rung, and summer's smiling ray
Welcomed again the merry Whitsuntide,[Pg 170]
And all my humble villagers were gay;
I saw thee sitting on the highway side,
To feel once more the warm sun's blessed beam:
Didst thou then think upon thy own gay prime,
On such a holiday, and the glad time
When thou wert young and happy, like a dream
Now perished! No; the murmured prayer alone
Rose from the trembling lips towards the Throne
Of Mercy; that ere spring returned again,
And the long winter blew its dreary blast,
To sweep the verdure from the fading plain,
Thy burden would be dropped, thy sorrows past!
O blind and aged man, bowed down with cares,
When will the grave shelter thy few gray hairs!

THE VISIONARY BOY.

Oh! lend that lute, sweet Archimage, to me!
Enough of care and heaviness
The weary lids of life depress,
And doubly blest that gentle heart shall be,
That wooes of poesy the visions bland,
And strays forgetful o'er enchanted land!
Oh! lend that lute, sweet Archimage, to me!
So spoke, with ardent look, yet eyebrow sad,
When he had passed o'er many a mountain rude,
And many a wild and weary solitude, 10
'Mid a green vale, a wandering minstrel-lad.
With eyes that shone in softened flame,
With wings and wand, young Fancy came;
And as she touched a trembling lute,
The lone enthusiast stood entranced and mute.[Pg 171]
It was a sound that made his soul forego
All thoughts of sadness in a world of woe.
Oh, lend that lute! he cried: Hope, Pity, Love,
Shall listen; and each valley, rock, and grove,
Shall witness, as with deep delight, 20
From orient morn to dewy-stealing night.
My spirit, rapt in trance of sweetness high,
Shall drink the heartfelt sound with tears of ecstasy!
As thus he spoke, soft voices seemed to say,
Come away, come away;
Where shall the heart-sick minstrel stray,
But (viewing all things like a dream)
By haunted wood, or wizard stream?
That, like a hermit weeping,
Amid the gray stones creeping; 30
With voice distinct, yet faint,
Calls on Repose herself to hear its soothing plaint.
For him, romantic Solitude
Shall pile sublime her mountains rude;
For him, with shades more soft impressed,
The lucid lake's transparent breast
Shall show the banks, the woods, the hill,
More clear, more beautiful, more still.
For him more musical shall wave
The pines o'er Echo's moonlit cave; 40
While sounds as of a fairy lyre
Amid the shadowy cliffs expire!
This valley where the raptured minstrel stood
Was shaded with a circling slope of wood,
And rich in beauty, with that valley vied,
Thessalian Tempe, crowned with verdant bay,
Where smooth and clear Peneus winds his way;
And Ossa and Olympus, on each side,
Rise dark with woods; or that Sicilian plain[Pg 172]
Which Arethusa's clearest waters lave, 50
By many a haunt of Pan, and wood-nymph's cave,
Lingering and listening to the Doric strain
Of him,[100] the bard whose music might succeed
To the wild melodies of Pan's own reed!
This scene the mistress of the valley held,
Fancy, a magic maid; and at her will,
Aërial castles crowned the gleaming hill,
Or forests rose, or lapse of water welled.
Sometimes she sat with lifted eye,
And marked the dark storm in the western sky; 60
Sometimes she looked, and scarce her breath would draw,
As fearful things, not to be told, she saw;
And sometimes, like a vision of the air,
On wings of shifting light she floated here and there.
In the breeze her garments flew,
Of the brightest skiey blue,
Lucid as the tints of morn,
When Summer trills his pipe of corn:
Her tresses to each wing descending fall,
Or, lifted by the wind, 70
Stream loose and unconfined,
Like golden threads, beneath her myrtle coronal.
The listening passions stood aloof and mute,
As oft the west wind touched her trembling lute.
But when its sounds the youthful minstrel heard,
Strange mingled feelings, not to be expressed,
Rose undefined, yet blissful, on his breast,
And all the softened scene in sweeter light appeared.
Then Fancy waved her wand, and lo!
An airy troop went beckoning by: 80
Come, from toil and worldly woe;
Come, live with us in vales remote! they cry.[Pg 173]
These are the flitting phantasies; the dreams
That lead the heart through all that elfin land,
Where half-seen shapes entice with whispers bland.
Meantime the clouds, impressed with livelier beams,
Roll, in the lucid track of air,
Arrayed in coloured brede, with semblances more fair.
The airy troop, as on they sail,
Thus the pensive stranger hail: 90
In the pure and argent sky,
There our distant chambers lie;
The bed is strewed with blushing roses,
When Quietude at eve reposes,
Oft trembling lest her bowers should fade,
In the cold earth's humid shade.
Come, rest with us! evanishing, they cried—
Come, rest with us! the lonely vale replied.
Then Fancy beckoned, and with smiling mien,
A radiant form arose, like the fair Queen 100
Of Beauty: from her eye divinely bright,
A richer lustre shot, a more attractive light.
She said: With fairer tints I can adorn
The living landscape, fairer than the morn.
The summer clouds in shapes romantic rolled,
And those they edge the fading west, like gold;
The lake that sleeps in sunlight, yet impressed
With shades more sweet than real on its breast;
'Mid baffling stones, beneath a partial ray,
The small brook huddling its uneven way; 110
The blue far distant hills, the silvery sea,
And every scene of summer speaks of me:
But most I wake the sweetest wishes warm,
Where the fond gaze is turned on woman's breathing form.
So passing silent through a myrtle grove,
Beauty first led him to the bower of Love.[Pg 174]
A mellow light through the dim covert strayed,
And opening roses canopied the shade.
Why does the hurrying pulse unbidden leap!
Behold, in yonder glade that nymph asleep! 120
The heart-struck minstrel hangs, with lingering gaze,
O'er every charm his eye impassioned strays!
An edge of white is seen, and scarcely seen,
As soft she breathes, her coral lips between;
A lambent ray steals from her half-closed eye,
As her breast heaves a short imperfect sigh.
Sleep, winds of summer, o'er the leafy bower,
Nor move the light bells of the nodding flower;
Lest but a sound of stirring leaves might seem
To break the charm of her delicious dream! 130
And ye, fond, rising, throbbing thoughts, away,
Lest syren Pleasure all the soul betray!
Oh! turn, and listen to the ditty
From the lowly cave of Pity.
On slaughter's plain, while Valour grieves,
There he sunk to rest,
And the ring-dove scattered leaves
Upon his bleeding breast!
Her face was hid, while her pale arms enfold
What seemed an urn of alabaster cold; 140
To this she pressed her heaving bosom bare:
The drops that gathered in the dank abode
Fell dripping, on her long dishevelled hair;
And still her tears, renewed, and silent, flowed:
And when the winds of autumn ceased to swell,
At times was heard a slow and melancholy knell!
'Twas in the twilight of the deepest wood,
Beneath whose boughs like sad Cocytus, famed
Through fabling Greece, from lamentation named[101][Pg 175]
A river dark and silent flowed, there stood 150
A pale and melancholy man, intent
His look upon that drowsy stream he bent,
As ever counting, when the fitful breeze
With strange and hollow sound sung through the trees,
Counting the sallow leaves, that down the current went.
He saw them not:
Earth seemed to him one universal blot.
Sometimes, as most distempered, to and fro
He paced; and sometimes fixed his chilling look
Upon a dreadful book, 160
Inscribed with secret characters of woe;
While gibbering imps, as mocking him, appeared,
And airy laughter 'mid the dusk was heard.
Then Fancy waved her wand again,
And all that valley that so lovely smiled
Was changed to a bare champaign, waste and wild.
"What pale and phantom-horseman rides amain?"
'Tis Terror;—all the plain, far on, is spread
With skulls and bones, and relics of the dead!
From his black trump he blew a louder blast, 170
And earthquakes muttered as the giant passed.
Then said that magic maid, with aspect bland,
'Tis thine to seize his phantom spear,
'Tis thine his sable trumpet to command,
And thrill the inmost heart with shuddering fear.
But hark! to Music's softer sound,
New scenes and fairer views accordant rise:
Above, around,
The mingled measure swells in air, and dies.
Music, in thy charmed shell, 180
What sounds of holy magic dwell!
Oft when that shell was to the ear applied,
Confusion of rich harmonies,[Pg 176]
All swelling rose,
That came, as with a gently-swelling tide:
Then at the close,
Angelic voices seemed, aloft,
To answer as it died the cadence soft.
Now, like the hum of distant ocean's stream,
The murmurs of the wond'rous concave seem; 190
And now exultingly their tones prolong
The chorded pæans of the choral song,
Then Music, with a voice more wildly sweet
Than winds that pipe on the forsaken shore,
When the last rain-drops of the west are o'er,
Warbled: Oh, welcome to my blest retreat,
And give my sounds to the responsive lyre:
With me to these melodious groves retire,
And such pure feelings share,
As, far from noise and folly, soothe thee there. 200
Here Fancy, as the prize were won,
And now she hailed her favourite son,
With energy impatient cried:
The weary world is dark and wide,
Lo! I am with thee still to comfort and to guide.[102]
Nor fear, if, grim before thine eyes,
Pale worldly Want, a spectre, lowers;
What is a world of vanities
To a world as sweet as ours!
When thy heart is sad and lone, 210
And loves to dwell on pleasures flown,
When that heart no more shall bound
At some kind voice's well-known sound,
My spells thy drooping languor shall relieve,
And airy spirits touch thy lonely harp at eve.[Pg 177]
Look!—Delight and Hope advancing,
Music joins her thrilling notes,
O'er the level lea come dancing;
Seize the vision as it floats,
Bright-eyed Rapture hovers o'er them, 220
Waving light his seraph wings,
Youth exulting flies before them,
Scattering cowslips as he sings!
Come now, my car pursue,
The wayward Fairy cried;
And high amid the fields of air,
Above the clouds, together we will ride,
And posting on the viewless winds,
So leave the cares of earth and all its thoughts behind.
I can sail, and I can fly, 230
To all regions of the sky,
On the shooting meteor's course,
On a winged griffin-horse!
She spoke: when Wisdom's self drew nigh,
A noble sternness in her searching eye;
Like Pallas helmed, and in her hand a spear,
As not in idle warfare bent, but still,
As resolute, to cope with every earthly ill.
In youthful dignity severe,
She stood: And shall the aspiring mind, 240
To Fancy be alone resigned!
Alas! she cried, her witching lay
Too often leads the heart astray!
Still, weak minstrel, wouldst thou rove,
Drooping in the distant grove,
Forgetful of all ties that bind
Thee, a brother, to mankind?
Has Fancy's feeble voice defied
The ills to poor humanity allied?[Pg 178]
Can she, like Wisdom, bid thy soul sustain 250
Its post of duty in a life of pain!
Can she, like meek Religion, bid thee bear
Contempt and hardship in a world of care!
Yet let not my rebuke decry,
In all, her blameless witchery,
Or from the languid bosom tear
Each sweet illusion nourished there.
With dignity and truth, combined,
Still may she rule the manly mind;
Her sweetest magic still impart 260
To soften, not subdue, the heart:
Still may she warm the chosen breast,
Not as the sovereign, but the guest.
Then shall she lead the blameless Muse
Through all her fairest, wildest views;
To mark amid the flowers of morn,
The bee go forth with early horn;
Or when the moon, a softer light
Sheds on the rocks and seas of night,
To hear the circling fairy bands 270
Sing, Come unto these yellow sands!
Sweeter is our light than day,
Fond enthusiast, come away!
Then Chivalry again shall call
The champions to her bannered hall!
The pipe, and song, with many a mingled shout,
Ring through the forest, as the satyr-rout,
Dance round the dragon-chariot of Romance;
Forth pricks the errant knight with rested lance;
Imps, demons, fays, in antic train succeed, 280
The wandering maiden, and the winged steed!
The muttering wizard turns, with haggard look,
The bloody leaves of the accursed book,[Pg 179]
Whilst giants, from the gloomy castle tower,
With lifted bats of steel, more dreadful lower!
At times, the magic shall prevail
Of the wild and wonderous tale;
At times, high rapture shall prolong
The deep, enthusiastic song.
Hence, at midnight, thou shalt stray, 290
Where dark ocean flings its spray,
To hear o'er heaven's resounding arch
The Thunder-Lord begin his march!
Or mark the flashes, that present
Some far-off shattered monument;
Whilst along the rocky vale,
Red fires, mingled with the hail,
Run along upon the ground,
And the thunders deeper sound!
The loftier Muse, with awful mien, 300
Upon a lonely rock is seen:
Full is the eye that speaks the dauntless soul;
She seems to hear the gathering tempest roll
Beneath her feet; she bids an eagle fly,
Breasting the whirlwind, through the dark-red sky;
Or, with elated look, lifts high the spear,
As sounds of distant battles roll more near.
Now deep-hushed in holy trance,
She sees the powers of Heaven advance,
And wheels, instinct with spirit, bear 310
God's living chariot through the air;
Now on the wings of morn she seems to rise,
And join the strain of more than mortal harmonies.
Thy heart shall beat exulting as she sings,
And thou shalt cry: Give me an angel's wings!
With sadder sound, o'er Pity's cave,
The willow in the wind shall wave;[Pg 180]
And all the listening passions stand,
Obedient to thy great command.
With Poesy's sweet charm impressed, 320
Fancy thus shall warm thy breast;
Still her smiling train be thine,
Still her lovely visions shine,
To cheer, beyond my boasted power,
A sad or solitary hour.
Thus let them soothe a while thy heart,
"Come like shadows, so depart;"
But never may the witching lay
Lead each sense from life astray;
For vain the poet's muse of fire, 330
Vain the magic of his lyre,
Unless the touch subdued impart
Truth and wisdom to the heart!

[100] Theocritus.

[101] "From lamentation named, and loud lament."—Milton.

[102] I have placed Music last, as I think a perfect musical ear implies the highest degree of cultivation.


CADLAND,[103] SOUTHAMPTON RIVER.

If ever sea-maid, from her coral cave,
Beneath the hum of the great surge, has loved
To pass delighted from her green abode,
And, seated on a summer bank, to sing
No earthly music; in a spot like this,
The bard might feign he heard her, as she dried
Her golden hair, yet dripping from the main,
In the slant sunbeam.
So the pensive bard
Might image, warmed by this enchanting scene, 10
The ideal form; but though such things are not,
He who has ever felt a thought refined;[Pg 181]
He who has wandered on the sea of life,
Forming delightful visions of a home
Of beauty and repose; he who has loved,
With filial warmth his country, will not pass
Without a look of more than tenderness
On all the scene; from where the pensile birch
Bends on the bank, amid the clustered group
Of the dark hollies; to the woody shore 20
That steals diminished, to the distant spires
Of Hampton, crowning the long lucid wave.
White in the sun, beneath the forest-shade,
Full shines the frequent sail, like Vanity,
As she goes onward in her glittering trim,
Amid the glances of life's transient morn,
Calling on all to view her!
Vectis[104] there,
That slopes its greensward to the lambent wave,
And shows through softest haze its woods and domes, 30
With gray St Catherine's[105] creeping to the sky,
Seems like a modest maid, who charms the more
Concealing half her beauties.
To the East,
Proud, yet complacent, on its subject realm,
With masts innumerable thronged, and hulls
Seen indistinct, but formidable, mark
Albion's vast fleet, that, like the impatient storm,
Waits but the word to thunder and flash death
On him who dares approach to violate 40
The shores and living scenes that smile secure
Beneath its dragon-watch!
Long may they smile!
And long, majestic Albion (while the sound[Pg 182]
From East to West, from Albis[106] to the Po,
Of dark contention hurtles), may'st thou rest,
As calm and beautiful this sylvan scene
Looks on the refluent wave that steals below.

[103] A beautiful seat of Henry Drummond, Esq.

[104] The Isle of Wight.

[105] The highest slowly-rising eminence in the Isle of Wight, seen from the river.

[106] The Elbe.


THE LAST SONG OF CAMOENS.[107]

The morning shone on Tagus' rocky side,
And airs of summer swelled the yellow tide,
When, rising from his melancholy bed,
And faint, and feebly by Antonio[108] led,
Poor Camoens, subdued by want and woe,
Along the winding margin wandered slow,
His harp, that once could each warm feeling move
Of patriot glory or of tenderest love,
His sole and sable friend[109] (while a faint tone
Rose from the wires) placed by a mossy stone. 10
How beautiful the sun ascending shines
From ridge to ridge, along the purple vines!
How pure the azure of the opening skies!
How resonant the nearer rock replies
To call of early mariners! and, hark!
The distant whistle from yon parting bark,
That down the channel as serene she strays,
Her gray sail mingles with the morning haze,
Bound to explore, o'er ocean's stormy reign,
New lands that lurk amid the lonely main! 20
A transient fervour touched the old man's breast;
He raised his eyes, so long by care depressed,[Pg 183]
And while they shone with momentary fire,
Ardent he struck the long-forgotten lyre.
From Tagus' yellow-sanded shore,
O'er the billows, as they roar,
O'er the blue sea, waste and wide,
Our bark threw back the burning tide,
By northern breezes cheer'ly borne,
On to the kingdoms of the morn. 30
Blanco, whose cold shadow vast
Chills the western wave, is past!
Huge Bojador, frowning high,
Thy dismal terrors we defy!
But who may violate the sleep
And silence of the sultry deep;
Where, beneath the intenser sun,[110]
Hot showers descend, red lightnings run;
Whilst all the pale expanse beneath
Lies burning wide, without a breath; 40
And at mid-day from the mast,
No shadow on the deck is cast!
Night by night, still seen the same,
Strange lights along the cordage flame,
Perhaps, the spirits of the good,[111]
That wander this forsaken flood
Sing to the seas, as slow we float,
A solemn and a holy note!
Spectre[112] of the southern main,
Thou barr'st our onward way in vain, 50
Wrapping the terrors of thy form,
In the thunder's rolling storm![Pg 184]
Fearless o'er the indignant tide,
On to the east our galleys ride.
Triumph! for the toil is o'er—
We kiss the far-sought Indian shore!
Glittering to the orient ray,
The banners of the Cross display!
Does my heart exulting bound?
Alas, forlorn, I gaze around: 60
Feeble, poor, and old, I stand,
A stranger in my native land!
My sable slave (ah, no! my only friend,
Whose steps upon my rugged path attend)
Sees, but with tenderness that fears to speak,
The tear that trickles down my aged cheek!
My harp is silent,—famine shrinks mine eye,—
"Give me a little food for charity!"[113]

[107] Inscribed to Lord Strangford.

[108] The faithful Indian who attended him in all his sorrows, a native of Java.

[109] Antonio, "who begged alms through Lisbon, and at night shared the produce with his broken-hearted master."—Strangford's Preface.

[110] Crossing the Line.

[111] Lights called by the Portuguese Corpo Sancto's, supposed to be the spirits of saints, hovering on the shrouds.

[112] The terrific Phantom of the Cape, described by Camoens.

[113] Camoens, the great poet of Portugal, is supposed to have gone to the East Indies in the same ship with the first Discoverer, round the Cape of Good Hope, Vasco de Gama. This is not the case, though he wrote the noble poem descriptive of the voyage. He went to India some years afterwards, but the general idea is sufficient for poetical purposes. His subsequent sorrows and poverty, in his native land, are well known.


THE SYLPH OF SUMMER.[114]

God said, Let there be light, and there was light!
At once the glorious sun, at his command,
From space illimitable, void and dark,
Sprang jubilant, and angel hierarchies,
Whose long hosannahs pealed from orb to orb,
Sang, Glory be to Thee, God of all worlds!
Then beautiful the ball of this terrene
Rolled in the beam of first-created day,[Pg 185]
And all its elements obeyed the voice
Of Him, the great Creator; Air, and Fire, 10
And Earth, and Water, each its ministry
Performed, whilst Chaos from his ebon throne
Leaped up; and so magnificent, and decked,
And mantled in its ambient atmosphere,
The living world began its state!
To thee,
Spirit of Air, I lift the venturous song,
Whose viewless presence fills the living scene,
Whose element ten thousand thousand wings
Fan joyous; o'er whose fields the morning clouds 20
Ride high; whose rule the lightning-shafts obey,
And the deep thunder's long-careering march!
The Winds too are thy subjects; from the breeze,
That, like a child upon a holiday,
On the high mountain's van pursues the down
Of the gray thistle, ere the autumnal shower
Steals soft, and mars his pastime; to the King
Of Hurricanes, that sounds his mighty shell,
And bids Tornado sweep the Western world.
Sylph of the Summer Gale, on thee I call! 30
Oh, come, when now gay June is in her car,
Wafting the breath of roses as she moves;
Come to this garden bower, which I have hung
With tendrils, and the fragrant eglantine,
And mandrake, rich with many mantling stars!
'Tis pleasant, when thy breath is on the leaves
Without, to rest in this embowering shade,
And mark the green fly, circling to and fro,
O'er the still water, with his dragon wings,
Shooting from bank to bank, now in quick turns, 40
Then swift athwart, as is the gazer's glance,
Pursuing still his mate; they, with delight,[Pg 186]
As if they moved in morris, to the sound
Harmonious of this ever-dripping rill,
Now in advance, now in retreat, now round,
Dart through their mazy rings, and seem to say:
The Summer and the Sun are ours!
But thou,
Sylph of the Summer Gale, delay a while
Thy airy flight, whilst here Francesca leans, 50
And, charmed by Ossian's harp, seems in the breeze
To hear Malvina's plaint; thou to her ear
Come unperceived, like music of the song
From Cona's vale of streams; then with the bee,
That sounds his horn, busied from flower to flower,
Speed o'er the yellow meadows, breathing ripe
Their summer incense; or amid the furze,
That paints with bloom intense the upland crofts,
With momentary essence tinge thy wings;
Or in the grassy lanes, one after one, 60
Lift light the nodding foxglove's purple bell.
Thence, to the distant sea, and where the flag
Hangs idly down, without a wavy curl,
Thou hoverest o'er the topmast, or dost raise
The full and flowing mainsail: Steadily,
The helmsman cries, as now thy breath is heard
Among the stirring cordage o'er his head;
So, steadily, he cries, as right he steers,
Speeds our proud ship along the world of waves.
Sylph, may thy favouring breath more gently blow, 70
More gently round the temples and the cheek
Of him, who, leaving home and friends behind,
In silence musing o'er the ocean leans,
And watches every passing shade that marks
The southern Channel's fast-retiring line;
Then, as the ship rolls on, keeps a long look[Pg 187]
Fixed on the lessening Lizard,[115] the last point
Of that delightful country, where he left
All his fond hopes behind: it lessens still;
Still, still it lessens, and now disappears! 80
He turns, and only sees the waves that rock
Boundless. How many anxious morns shall rise,
How many moons shall light the farthest seas,
O'er what new scenes and regions shall he stray,
A weary man, still thinking of his home,
Ere he again that shore shall view, and greet
With blissful thronging hopes and starting tears,
Of heartfelt welcome, and of warmest love!
Perhaps, ah! never! So didst thou go forth,
My poor lost brother![116] 90
The airs of morning as enticing played,
And gently, round thee, and their whisperings
Might sooth (if aught could sooth) a boding heart;
For thou wert bound to visit scenes of death,
Where the sick gale (alas! unlike the breeze
That bore the gently-swelling sail along)
Was tainted with the breath of pestilence,
That smote the silent camp, and night and day
Sat mocking on the putrid carcases.
Thou too didst perish! As the south-west blows, 100
Thy bones, perhaps, now whiten on the coast
Of old Algarva.[117] I, meantime, these shades
Of village solitude, hoping erewhile
To welcome thee from many a toil restored,
Still deck, and now thy empty urn[118] alone
I meet, where, swaying in the summer gale,
The willow whispers in my evening walk.[Pg 188]
Sylph, in thy airy robe, I see thee float,
A rainbow o'er thy head, and in thy hand
The magic instrument,[119] that, as thy wing, 110
Lucid, and painted like the butterfly's,
Waves to and from, most musically rings;
Sometimes in joyance, as the flaunting leaf
Of the white poplar, sometimes sad and slow,
As bearing pensive airs from Pity's grave.
Soft child of air, thou tendest on his sway,
As gentle Ariel at the bidding hies
Of mighty Prospero; yet other winds
Throng to his wizard 'hest, inspiring some,
Some melancholy, and yet soothing much 120
The drooping wanderer in the fading copse;
Some terrible, with solitude and death
Attendant on their march:—the wild Simoom,[120]
Riding on whirling spires of burning sand,
That move along the Nubian wilderness,
And bury deep the silent caravan;—
Monsoon, up-starting from his half-year sleep,
Upon the vernal shores of Hindostan,
And tempesting with sounds of torrent rain,
And hail, the darkening main;—and red Sameel, 130
Blasting and withering, like a rivelled leaf,
The pilgrim as he roams;—Sirocco sad,
That pants, all summer, on the cloudless shores
Of faint Parthenope;—deep in the mine
Oft lurks the lurid messenger of death,
The ghastly fiend that blows, when the pale light
Quivers, and leaves the gasping wretch to die;—
The imp, that when the hollow curfew knolls,
Wanders the misty marish, lighting it[Pg 189]
At night with errant and fantastic flame. 140
Spirit of air, these are thy ministers,
That wait thy will; but thou art all in all,
And dead without thee were the flower, the leaf,
The waving forest rivelled, the great sea
Still, the lithe birds of heaven extinct, and ceased
The soul of melting music.
This fair scene
Lives in thy tender touch, for so it seems;
Whilst universal nature owns thy sway;
From the mute insect on the summer pool, 150
That with long cobweb legs, firm as on earth
The ostrich skims, flits idly to and fro,
Making no dimple on the watery mass;
To the huge grampus, spouting, as he rolls,
A cataract, amid the cold clear sky,
And furrowing far and wide the northern deep.
Thy presence permeates and fills the whole!
As the poor butterfly, that, painted gay,
With mealy wings, red, amber, white, or dropped
With golden stains, floats o'er the yellow corn, 160
Idly, as bent on pastime, while the morn
Smiles on his devious voyage; if inclosed
In the exhausted prison,[121] whence thy breath
With suction slow is drawn, he feels the change
How dire! in palsied inanition drops!
Weak flags his weary wing, and weaker yet;
His frame with tremulous convulsion moves
A moment, and the next is still in death.
So were the great and glorious world itself;
The tenants of its continents, all ceased! 170
A wide, a motionless, a putrid waste,
Its seas! How droops the languid mariner,[Pg 190]
When not a breath, along the sluggish main,
Strays on the sultry surface as it sleeps;
When far away the winds are flown, to dash
The congregated ocean on the Cape
Of Southern Africa, leaving the while
The flood's vast surface noiseless, waveless, white,
Beneath Mozambique's long-reflected woods,
A gleaming mirror, spread from east to west, 180
Where the still ship, as on a bed of glass,
Sits motionless. Awake, ye hurricanes!
Ye winds that harrow up the wintry waste,
Awake! for Thunder in his sounding car,
Flashing thick lightning from the rolling wheels,
And the red volley, charged with instant death,
Were music to this lingering, sickening calm,
The same eternal sunshine; still, all still,
Without a vapour, or a sound.
If thus, 190
Beneath the burning, breathless atmosphere,
Faint Nature sickening droop; who shall ascend
The height, where Silence, since the world began,
Has sat on Cimborazzo's highest peak,
A thousand toises o'er the cloud's career,
Soaring in finest ether? Far below,
He sees the mountains burning at his feet,
Whose smoke ne'er reached his forehead; never there,
Though the black whirlwind shake the distant shores,
The passing gale has murmured; never there 200
The eagle's cry has echoed; never there
The solitary condor's weary wing
Hath yet ascended!
Let the rising thought
Beyond the confines of this vapoury vault
Be lifted, to the boundless void of space,[Pg 191]
How dread, how infinite! where other worlds,
Ten million and ten million leagues aloft,
In other precincts with their shadows roll.
There roams the sole erratic comet, borne 210
With lightning speed, yet twice three hundred years
Its destined course accomplishing.
Then whirled,
Far from the attractive orb of central fire,
Back through the dim and infinite abyss,
Dread flaming visitant, ere thou return'st,
Empires may rise and fail; the palaces,
That shone on earth, may vanish like the dews
Of morning, scarce illumined ere they fly.
Dread flaming visitant, who that pursues 220
Thy long and lonely voyage, ev'n in thought,
(Till thought itself seem in the effort lost,)
But tremblingly exclaims, There is a God:
There is a God who lights ten thousand suns,[122]
Round which revolve worlds wheeling amid worlds.
He launched thy voyage through the vast abyss,
He hears his universe, through all its orbs,
As with one voice, proclaim,
There is a God!
Lifted above this dim diurnal sphere, 230
So fancy, rising with her theme, ascends,
And voyaging the illimitable void,
Where comets flame, sees other worlds and suns
Emerge, and on this earth, like a dim speck,
Looks down: nor in the wonderful and vast
Of the dread scene magnificent, she views
Alone the Almighty Ruler, but the web
That shines in summer time, and only seen
In the slant sunbeam, wakes a moral thought.[Pg 192]
In autumn, when the thin long spider gains 240
The leafy bush's top, he from his seat
Shoots the soft filament, like threads of air,
Scarce seen, into the sky; and thus sustained,
Boldly ascends into the breezy void,
Dependent on the trembling line he wove,
Insidious, and intent on scenes of spoil
And death:—So mounts Ambition, and aloft
On his proud summit meditates new scenes
Of plunder and dominion, till the breeze
Of fortune change, that blows to empty air 250
His feeble, frail support, and once again
Leaves him a reptile, struggling in the dust!
But what the world itself, what in His view
Whose dread Omnipotence is over all!
A twinkling air-thread in the vast of space.
And what the works of that proud insect, Man!
His mausoleums, fanes, and pyramids,
Frown in the dusk of long-revolving years,
While generations, as they rise and drop,
Each following each to silence and to dust, 260
Point as they pass, and say, It was a God[123]
That made them: but nor date, nor name
Oblivion shows; cloud only, rolling on,
And wrapping darker as it rolls, the works
Of man!
Now raised on Contemplation's wing,
The blue vault, fervent with unnumbered stars,
He ranges: speeds, as with an angel's flight,
From orb to orb; sees distant suns illume
The boundless space, then bends his head to earth, 270
So poor is all he knows![Pg 193]
O'er sanguine fields
Now rides he, armed and crested like the god
Of fabled battles; where he points, pale Death
Strides over weltering carcases; nor leaves,—
But still a horrid shadow, step by step,
Stalks mocking after him, till now the noise
Of rolling acclamation, and the shout
Of multitude on multitude, is past:
The scene of all his triumphs, wormy earth, 280
Closes upon his perishable pride;
For "dust he is, and shall to dust return"!
But Conscience, a small voice from heaven replies,
Conscience shall meet him in another world.
Let man, then, walk meek, humble, pure, and just;
Though meek, yet dignified; though humble, raised,
The heir of life and immortality;
Conscious that in this awful world he stands,
He only of all living things, ordained
To think, and know, and feel, there is a God! 290
Child of the air, though most I love to hear
Thy gentle summons whisper, when the Spring,
At the first carol of the village lark,
Looks out and smiles, or June is in her car;
Not undelightful is the purer air
In winter, when the keen north-east is high,
When frost fantastic his cold garland weaves
Of brittle flowers, or soft-succeeding snows
Gather without apace, and heavy load
The berried sweetbrier, clinging to my pane. 300
The blackbird, then, that marks the ruddy pods
Peep through the snow, though silent is his song,
Yet, pressed by cold and hunger, ventures near.
The robin group, familiar, muster round
The garden-shed, where, at his dinner set,[Pg 194]
The laboured hind strews here and there a crumb
From his brown bread; then heedless of the winds
That blow without, and sweep the shivered snow,
Sees from his broken tube the smoke ascend
On an inverted barrow, as in state 310
He sits, though poor, the monarch of the scene,
As pondering deep the garden's future state,
His kingdom; the rude instruments of death
Lie at his feet, fashioned with simple skill,
With which he hopes to snare the prowling race,
The mice, rapacious of his vernal hopes.
So seated, on the spring he ruminates,
And solemn as a sophi,[124] moves nor hand,
Nor eye, till haply some more venturous bird,
(The crumbs exhausted that he lately strewed 320
Upon the groundsill,) with often dipping beak,
And sidelong look, as asking larger dole,
Comes hopping to his feet: and say, ye great,
Ye mighty monarchs of this earthly scene,
What nobler views can elevate the heart
Of a proud patriot king, than thus to chase
The bold rapacious spoilers from the field,
And with an eye of merciful regard
To look on humble worth, wet from the storm,
And chilled by indigence! 330
But thoughts like these
Ill suit the radiant summer's rosy prime,
And the still temper of the calm blue sky.
The sunny shower is past; at intervals
The silent glittering drops descend; and mark,
Upon the blue bank of yon western cloud,
That looms direct against the emerging orb,
How bright, how beautiful the rainbow's hues[Pg 195]
Steal out, how stately bends the graceful arch
Above the hills, and tinging at his foot 340
The mead and trees! Fancy might think young Hope
Pants for the vision, and with ardent eye
Pursues the unreal shade, and spreads her hands,
Weeping to see it fade, as all her dreams
Have faded.
These, O Air! are but the toys,
That sometimes deck thy fairy element;
So oft the eye observant loves to trace
The colours, and the shadows, and the forms,
That wander o'er the veering atmosphere. 350
See, in the east, the rare parhelia shine
In mimic glory, and so seem to mock
(Fixed parallel to the ascending orb)
The majesty, the splendour, and the shape,
Of the sole luminary that informs
The world with light and heat! The halo-ring
Bends over all!
With desultory shafts,
And long and arrowy glance, the night-lights[125] shoot
Pale coruscations o'er the northern sky; 360
Now lancing to the cope, in sheets of flame,
Now wavering wild, as the reflected wave,
On the arched roof of the umbrageous grot.
Hence Superstition dreams of armaments,
Of fiery conflicts, and of bleeding fields
Of slaughter; so on great Jerusalem,
Ere yet she fell, the flaming meteor glared;
A waving sword ensanguined seemed to point
To the devoted city, and a voice
Was heard, Depart, depart![126][Pg 196] 370
The atmosphere,
That with the ceaseless hurry of its clouds,
Encircles the round globe, resembles oft
The passing sunshine, or the glooms that stray
O'er every human spirit.
Thin light streaks
Of thought pass vapoury o'er the vacant mind,
And fade to nothing. Now fantastic gleams
Play, flashing or expiring, of gay hope,
Or deep despair; then clouds of sadness close 380
In one dark settled gloom, and all the man
Droops, in despondence lost.
Aërial tints
Please most the pensive poet: and the views
He forms, though evanescent, and as vain
As the air's mockery, seem to his eye
Ev'n as substantial images, and shapes,
Till in a hurrying rack they all dissolve.
So in the cloudless sky, amusive shines
The soft and mimic scenery; distant hills 390
That, in refracted light, hang beautiful
Beneath the golden car of eve, ere yet
The daylight lingering fades.
Hence, on the heights
Of Apennine, far stretching to the south,
The goat-herd, while the westering sun, far off,
Hangs o'er the hazy ocean's brim, beholds
In the horizon's faintly-glowing verge
A landscape,[127] like the rainbow, rise, with rocks
That softened shine, and shores that trend away, 400
Beneath the winding woods of Sicily,[Pg 197]
And Etna, smouldering in the still pale sky;
And dim Messina, with her spires, and bays
That wind among the mountains, and the tower
Of Faro, gleaming on the tranquil straits;
Unreal all, yet on the air impressed,
From light's refracted ray,[128] the shadow seems
The certain scene: the hind astonished views,
Yet most delighted, till at once the light
Changes, and all has vanished! 410
But to him,
How different in still air the unreal view,
Who wanders in Arabian solitudes,
When, faint with thirst, he sees illusive streams[129]
Shine in the arid desert!
All around,
A silent waste of dark gray sand is spread,
Like ashes; not a speck in heaven appears,
But the red sun, high in his burning noon,
Shoots down intolerable fire: no sound 420
Of beast, or blast, or moving insect, stirs
The horrid stillness. Oh! what hand will guide
The pilgrim, panting in the trackless dust,
To where the pure and sparkling fountain cheers
The green oasis.[130] See, as now his lip
Hangs parched and quivering, see before him spread
The long and level lake!
He gazes; still
He gazes, till he drops upon the sands,
And to the vision stretches, as he faints, 430
His feeble hand.[Pg 198]
Come, Sylph of Summer, come!
Return to these green pastures, that, remote
From fiery blasts, or deadly blistering frosts,
Beneath the temperate atmosphere rejoice!
A crown of flame, a javelin in his hand,
Like the red arrow that the lightning shoots
Through night, impetuous steeds, and burning wheels,
That, as they whirl, flash to the cope of heaven,
Proclaim the angel of the world of fire! 440
The ocean-king, lord of the waters, rides
High on his hissing car, whose concave skirrs
The azure deep beneath him, flashing wide,
As to the sun the dark-green wave upturns,
And foaming far behind: sea-horses breast
The bickering surge, with nostrils sounding far,
And eyes that flash above the wave, and necks,
Whose mane, like breakers whitening in the wind,
Toss through the broken foam: he kingly bears
His trident sceptre high; around him play 450
Nereids, and sea-maids, singing as he rides
Their choral song: huge Triton, weltering on,
With scaly train, at times his wreathed shell
Sounds, that the caverns of old ocean shake!
But milder thou, soft daughter of the air,
Sylph of the Summer, come! the silent shower
Is past, and 'mid the dripping fern, the wren
Peeps, till the sun looks through the clouds again.
Oh, come, and breathe thy gentler influence,
And send a home-felt quiet to my heart, 460
Soothed as I hear, by fits, thy whisper run,
Stirring the tall acacia's pendent leaves,
And through yon hazel alley rustling soft
Upon the vacant ear![Pg 199]
Yon eastern downs,
That weather-fence the blossoms of the vale,
Where winds from hill to hill the mighty Dike,[131]
Of Woden named, with many an antique mound,
The warrior's grave, bids exercise awake,
And health, the breeze of morning to inhale: 470
Meantime, remote from storms, the myrtle blooms
Beneath my southern sash.
The hurricane
May rend the pines of snowy Labrador,
The blasting whirlwinds of the desert sweep
The Nubian wilderness—we fear them not;
Nor yet, my country, do thy breezes bear,
From citrons, or the blooming orange-grove,
As in Rousillon's jasmine-bordered vales,
Incense at eve. 480
But temperate airs are thine,
England; and as thy climate, so thy sons
Partake the temper of thine isle; not rude,
Nor soft, voluptuous, nor effeminate;
Sincere, indeed, and hardy, as becomes
Those who can lift their look elate, and say,
We strike for injured freedom; and yet mild,
And gentle, when the voice of charity
Pleads like a voice from heaven: and, thanks to God,
The chain that fettered Afric's groaning race, 490
The murderous chain, that, link by link, dropped blood,
Is severed; we have lost that foul reproach
To all our virtuous boast!
Humanity,
England, is thine! not that false substitute,
That meretricious sadness, which, all sighs
For lark or lambkin, yet can hear unmoved[Pg 200]
The bloodiest orgies of blood-boltered France;
Thine is consistent, manly, rational,
Nor needing the false glow of sentiment 500
To melt it into sympathy, but mild,
And looking with a gentle eye on all;
Thy manners open, social, yet refined,
Are tempered with reflection; gaiety,
In her long-lighted halls, may lead the dance,
Or wake the sprightly chord; yet nature, truth,
Still warm the ingenuous heart: there is a blush
With those most gay, and lovely; and a tear
With those most manly!
Temperate Liberty 510
Hath yet the fairest altar on thy shores;
Such, and so warm with patriot energy,
As raised its arm when a false Stuart fled;
Yet mingled with deep wisdom's cautious lore,
That when it bade a Papal tyrant pause
And tremble, held the undeviating reins
On the fierce neck of headlong Anarchy.
Thy Church, (nor here let zealot bigotry,
Vaunting, condemn all altars but its own),
Thy Church, majestic, but not sumptuous, 520
Sober, but not austere, with lenity
Tempering her fair pre-eminence, sustains
Her liberal charities, yet decent state.
The tempest is abroad; the fearful sounds
Of armament, and gathering tumult, fill
The ear of anxious Europe. If, O God!
It is thy will, that in the storm of death,
When we have lifted the brave sword in vain,
We too should sink, sustain us in that hour!
Meantime be mine, in cheerful privacy, 530
To wait Thy will, not sanguine, nor depressed;[Pg 201]
In even course, nor splendid, nor obscure,
To steal through life among my villagers!
The hum of the discordant crowd, the buzz
Of faction, the poor fly that threads the air
Self-pleased, the wasp that points its tiny sting
Unfelt, pass by me like the idle wind
That I regard not; while the Summer Sylph,
That whispers through the laurels, wakes the thought
Of quietude, and home-felt happiness, 540
And independence, in a land I love!

[114] Inscribed to William Sotheby, Esq.

[115] The last point of Cornwall.

[116] Dr Henry Bowles, on the medical staff sent to Gibraltar during the pestilential fever there.

[117] South coast of Portugal.

[118] An urn is erected to his memory in Bremhill Garden.

[119] Æolian harp.

[120] Simoom, Sameel, destructive winds in the deserts of Asia. See Bruce, &c.

[121] Air-pump.

[122] Fixed stars.

[123] So the Arabs say, speaking of the stupendous monuments in the deserts.

[124] Title of the Persian Emperor.

[125] Aurora Borealis.

[126] From Josephus.

[127] A curious effect of vision in the air from refraction, by which objects appear distinct, and as real, which are below the horizon. This often appears on the coast of Italy, and has been sometimes observed from our shores, where a line of the opposite coast appears.

[128] The Fata Morgana are all explained in books; the effect is ascribed to reflection and refraction, as one alone will not correspond with the effects. The time when they occur is not the evening; but the looming in our country is towards the evening.

[129] The Mirage: see Denon.

[130] Green spots in the desert.

[131] Wandsdike, on the Marlborough Downs, opposite.


THE HARP OF HOEL.[132]

It was a high and holy sight, 1
When Baldwin[133] and his train,
With cross and crosier gleaming bright,
Came chanting slow the solemn rite,
To Gwentland's[134] pleasant plain.
High waved before, in crimson pride, 2
The banner of the Cross;
The silver rood was then descried,
While deacon youths, from side to side,
The fuming censer toss.
The monks went two and two along, 3
And winding through the glade,
Sang, as they passed, a holy song,
And harps and citterns, 'mid the throng,
A mingled music made.[Pg 202]
They ceased; when lifting high his hand, 4
The white-robed prelate cried:
Arise, arise, at Christ's command,
To fight for his name in the Holy Land,
Where a Saviour lived and died!
With gloves of steel, and good broadsword, 5
And plumed helm of brass,
Hoel, Landoga's youthful lord,
To hear the father's holy word,
Came riding to the pass.
More earnestly the prelate spake: 6
Oh, heed no earthly loss!
He who will friends and home forsake,
Now let him kneel, and fearless take
The sign of the Holy Cross.
Then many a maid her tresses rent, 7
And did her love implore:
Oh, go not thou to banishment!
For me, and the pleasant vales of Gwent,
Thou never wilt see more.
And many a mother, pale with fears, 8
Did kiss her infant son;
Said, Who will shield thy helpless years,
Who dry thy widowed mother's tears,
When thy brave father's gone?
God, with firm voice the prelate cried, 9
God will the orphan bless;
Sustain the widow's heart, and guide
Through the hard world, obscure and wild,
The poor and fatherless.[Pg 203]
Then might you see a shade o'ercast 10
Brave Hoel's ruddy hue,
But soon the moment's thought is past:—
Hark, hark, 'tis the trumpet's stirring blast!
And he grasped his bow of yew.
Then might you see a moment's gloom 11
Sit in brave Hoel's eye:
Make in the stranger's land my tomb,
I follow thee, be it my doom,
O Christ, to live or die!
No more he thought, though rich in fee, 12
Of any earthly loss,
But lighting, on his bended knee,
Said, Father, here I take from thee
The sign of the Holy Cross.
I have a wife, to me more dear 13
Then is my own heart's blood;
I have a child, (a starting tear,
Which soon he dried, of love sincere,
On his stern eyelid stood);
To them farewell! O God above, 14
Thine is the fate of war;
But oh! reward Gwenlhian's[135] love,
And may my son a comfort prove,
When I am distant far!
Farewell, my harp!—away, away! 15
To the field of death I go;[Pg 204]
Welcome the trumpet's blast, the neigh
Of my bold and barbed steed of gray,
And the clang of the steel crossbow!
Gwenlhian sat in the hall at night, 16
Counting the heavy hours;
She saw the moon, with tranquil light,
Shine on the circling mountain's height,
And the dim castle towers.
Deep stillness was on hill and glen, 17
When she heard a bugle blow;
A trump from the watch-tower answered then,
And the tramp of steeds, and the voice of men,
Were heard in the court below.
The watch-dog started at the noise, 18
Then crouched at his master's feet;
He knew his step, he heard his voice;
But who can now like her rejoice,
Who flies her own lord to greet?
And soon her arms his neck enfold: 19
But whence that altered mien!
O say, then, is thy love grown cold,
Or hast thou been hurt by the robbers bold,
That won in the forest of Dean?
Oh no, he cried, the God above, 20
Who all my soul can see,
Knows my sincere, my fervent love;
If aught my stern resolve could move,
It were one tear from thee.[Pg 205]
But I have sworn, in the Holy Land,— 21
Need I the sequel speak;
Too well, she cried, I understand!
Then grasped in agony his hand,
And hid her face on his cheek.
My loved Gwenlhian, weep not so, 22
From the lid that tear I kiss;
Though to the wars far off I go,
Betide me weal, betide me woe,
We yet may meet in bliss.
Fourteen suns their course had rolled, 23
When firmly thus he spake;
Hear now my last request: behold
This ring, it is of purest gold,
Love, keep it for my sake!
When summers seven have robed each tree, 24
And clothed the vales with green,
If I come not back, then thou art free,
To wed or not, and to think of me,
As I had never been!
Nay, answer not,—what wouldst thou say!25
Come, let my harp be brought;
For the last time, I fain would play,
Ere yet we part, our favourite lay,
And cheat severer thought:
THE AIR.
Oh, cast every care to the wind,
And dry, best beloved, the tear!
Secure, that thou ever shalt find,
The friend of thy bosom sincere.[Pg 206]
Still friendship shall live in the breast of the brave,
And we'll love, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.
I have felt each emotion of bliss,
That affection the fondest can prove,
Have received on my lip the first kiss
Of thy holy and innocent love;
But perish each hope of delight,
Like the flashes of night on the sea,
If ever, though far from thy sight,
My soul is forgetful of thee!
Still the memory shall live in the breast of the brave,
How we loved, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.
Now bring my boy; may God above 26
Shower blessings on his head!
May he requite his mother's love,
And to her age a comfort prove,
When I perhaps am dead!
The beams of morn on his helm did play, 27
And aloud the bugle blew,
Then he leaped on his harnessed steed of gray,
And sighed to the winds as he galloped away,
Adieu, my heart's love, adieu!
And now he has joined the warrior train 28
Of knights and barons bold,
That, bound to Salem's holy plain,
Across the gently-swelling main,
Their course exulting hold.
With a cross of gold, as on they passed, 29
The crimson streamers flew;[Pg 207]
The shields hung glittering round the mast,
And on the waves a radiance cast,
Whilst all the trumpets blew.
O'er the Severn-surge, in long array, 30
So, the proud galleys went,
Till soon, as dissolved in ether gray,
The woods, and the shores, and the Holms[136] steal away,
And the long blue hills of Gwent.

[132] This lyrical ballad is founded on a story connected with an old Welsh melody. I have placed the circumstance in the time of the Crusades.

[133] Archbishop of Canterbury, who preached the Crusade in Wales.

[134] Monmouthshire.

[135] The Welsh tune is called the "Remembrance of Gwenlhian," the name of the woman.

[136] Islands in the Bristol Channel.

Part II.

High on the hill, with moss o'ergrown, 1
A hermit chapel stood;
It spoke the tale of seasons gone,
And half-revealed its ivied stone.
Amid the beechen wood.
Here often, when the mountain trees 2
A leafy murmur made,
Now still, now swaying to the breeze,
(Sounds that the musing fancy please),
The widowed mourner strayed.
And many a morn she climbed the steep, 3
From whence she might behold,
Where, 'neath the clouds, in shining sweep,
And mingling with the mighty deep,
The sea-broad Severn rolled.
Her little boy beside her played, 4
With sea-shells in his hand;[Pg 208]
And sometimes, 'mid the bents delayed,
And sometimes running onward, said,
Oh, where is Holy Land!
My child, she cried, my prattler dear! 5
And kissed his light-brown hair;
Her eyelid glistened with a tear,
And none but God above could hear,
That hour, her secret prayer.
As thus she nursed her secret woes, 6
Oft to the wind and rain
She listened, at sad autumn's close,
Whilst many a thronging shadow rose,
Dark-glancing o'er her brain.
Now lonely to the cloudy height 7
Of the steep hill she strays;
Below, the raven wings his flight,
And often on the screaming kite
She sees the wild deer gaze.
The clouds were gathered on its brow, 8
The warring winds were high;
She heard a hollow voice, and now
She lifts to heaven a secret vow,
Whilst the king of the storm rides by.
Seated on a craggy rock, 9
What aged man appears!
There is no hind, no straggling flock;
Comes the strange shade my thoughts to mock,
And shake my soul with fears?[Pg 209]
Fast drive the hurrying clouds of morn; 10
A pale man stands confessed;
With look majestic, though forlorn,
A mirror in his hand, and horn
Of ivory on his breast.
Daughter of grief, he gently said, 11
And beckoned her: come near;
Now say, what would you give to me,
If you brave Hoel's form might see,
Or the sound of his bugle hear!
Hoel, my love, where'er thou art, 12
All England I would give,[137]
If, never, never more to part,
I now could hold thee to my heart,
For whom alone I live!
He placed the white horn to her ear, 13
And sudden a sweet voice
Stole gently, as of fairies near,
While accents soft she seemed to hear,
Daughter of grief, rejoice!
For soon to love and thee I fly, 14
From Salem's hallowed plain!
The mirror caught her turning eye,
As pale in death she saw him lie,
And sinking 'mid the slain.
She turned to the strange phantom-man, 15
But she only saw the sky,[Pg 210]
And the clouds on the lonely mountains' van,
And the Clydden-Shoots,[138] that rushing ran,
To meet the waves of Wye.
Thus seven long years had passed away,— 16
She heard no voice of mirth;
No minstrel raised his festive lay,
At the sad close of the drisly day,
Beside the blazing hearth.
She seemed in sorrow, yet serene, 17
No tear was on her face;
And lighting oft her pensive mien,
Upon her languid look was seen
A meek attractive grace.
In beauty's train she yet might vie, 18
For though in mourning weeds,
No friar, I deem, that passed her by,
Ere saw her dark, yet gentle eye,
But straight forgot his beads.
Eineon, generous and good, 19
Alone with friendship's aid,
Eineon, of princely Rhys's blood,
Who 'mid the bravest archers stood,
To sooth her griefs essayed.
He had himself been early tried 20
By stern misfortune's doom;
For she who loved him drooped and died,
And on the green hill's flowery side
He raised her grassy tomb.[Pg 211]
What marvel, in his lonely heart, 21
To faith a friendship true,
If, when her griefs she did impart,
And tears of memory oft would start,
If more than pity grew.
With converse mild he oft would seek 22
To sooth her sense of care;
As the west wind, with breathings weak,
Wakes, on the hectic's faded cheek
A smile of faint despair.
The summer's eve was calm and still, 23
When once his harp he strung;
Soft as the twilight on the hill,
Affection seemed his heart to fill,
Whilst eloquent he sung:
When Fortune to all thy warm hopes was unkind,
And the morn of thy youth was o'erclouded with woe,
In me, not a stranger to grief, thou should'st find,
All that friendship and kindness and truth could bestow.
Yes, the time it has been, when my soul was oppressed,
But no longer this heart would for heaviness pine,
Could I lighten the load of an innocent breast,
And steal but a moment of sadness from thine.
He paused, then with a starting tear, 24
And trembling accent, cried,
O lady, hide that look severe,—
The voice of love, of friendship hear,
And be again a bride.[Pg 212]
Mourn not thy much-loved Hoel lost,— 25
Lady, he is dead, is dead,—
Far distant wanders his pale ghost,—
His bones by the white surge are tossed,
And the wave rolls o'er his head.
She said, Sev'n years their course have rolled, 26
Since thus brave Hoel spake,
When last I heard his voice, Behold,
This ring,—it is of purest gold,—
Then, keep it for my sake.
When summers seven have robed each tree, 27
And decked the coombs with green,
If I come not back, then thou art free,
To wed or not, and to think of me
As I had never been.
Those seven sad summers now are o'er, 28
And three I yet demand;
If in that space I see no more
The friend I ever must deplore,
Then take a mourner's hand.
The time is passed:—the laugh, the lay, 29
The nuptial feast proclaim;
From many a rushing torrent gray,
From many a wild brook's wandering way,
The hoary minstrels came.
From Kymin's crag, with fragments strewed; 30
From Skirid, bleak and high;
From Penalt's shaggy solitude;
From Wyndcliff, desolate and rude,
That frowns o'er mazy Wye.[Pg 213]
With harps the gallery glittered bright,— 31
The pealing rafters rung;
Far off upon the woods of night,
From the tall window's arch, the light
Of tapers clear was flung.
The harpers ceased the acclaiming lay, 32
When, with descending beard,
Scallop, and staff his steps to stay,
As, foot-sore, on his weary way,
A pilgrim wan appeared.
Now lend me a harp for St Mary's sake, 33
For my skill I fain would try,
A poor man's offering to make,
If haply still my hand may wake
Some pleasant melody.
With scoffs the minstrel crowd replied, 34
Dost thou a harp request!
And loud in mirth, and swelled with pride,
Some his rain-dripping hair deride,
And some his sordid vest.
Pilgrim, a harp shall soon be found, 35
Young Hoel instant cried;
There lies a harp upon the ground,
And none hath ever heard its sound,
Since my brave father died.
The harp is brought: upon the frame 36
A filmy cobweb hung;
The strings were few, yet 'twas the same;
The old man drawing near the flame,
The chords imperfect rung:[Pg 214]
Oh! cast every care to the wind,
And dry, best beloved, the tear;
Secure that thou ever shalt find
The friend of thy bosom sincere.
She speechless gazed:—he stands confessed,— 37
The dark eyes of her Hoel shine;
Her heart has forgotten it e'er was oppressed,
And she murmurs aloud, as she sinks on his breast,
Oh! press my heart to thine.
He turned his look a little space, 38
To hide the tears of joy;
Then rushing, with a warm embrace,
Cried, as he kissed young Hoel's face,
My boy, my heart-loved boy!
Proud harpers, strike a louder lay,— 39
No more forlorn I bend!
Prince Eineon, with the rest, be gay,
Though fate hath torn a bride away,
Accept a long-lost friend.

This tale I heard, when at the close of day
The village harper tuned an ancient lay;
He struck his harp, beneath a ruin hoar,
And sung of love and truth, in days of yore,
And I retained the song, with counsel sage,
To teach one lesson to a wiser age!
[137]
"Wales, England, and Llewellyn,
All would I give for a sight of William."
Giraldus, vol. i. p. 46.

[138] "Nearly through the centre of the hill that backs the village (Landoga) is a deep ravine, called Clydden-Shoots, which, when the springs are full, forms a beautiful cascade."—Heath.[Pg 215]


AVENUE IN SAVERNAKE FOREST.

How soothing sound the gentle airs that move
The innumerable leaves, high overhead,
When autumn first, from the long avenue,
That lifts its arching height of ancient shade,
Steals here and there a leaf!
Within the gloom,
In partial sunshine white, some trunks appear,
Studding the glens of fern; in solemn shade
Some mingle their dark branches, but yet all,
All make a sad sweet music, as they move,
Not undelightful to a stranger's heart.
They seem to say, in accents audible,
Farewell to summer, and farewell the strains
Of many a lithe and feathered chorister,
That through the depth of these incumbent woods
Made the long summer gladsome.
I have heard
To the deep-mingling sounds of organs clear,
(When slow the choral anthem rose beneath),
The glimmering minster, through its pillared aisles,
Echo;—but not more sweet the vaulted roof
Rang to those linked harmonies, than here
The high wood answers to the lightest breath
Of nature.
Oh, may such sweet music steal,
Soothing the cares of venerable age,[139]
From public toil retired: may it awake,
As, still and slow, the sun of life declines,[Pg 216]
Remembrances, not mournful, but most sweet;
May it, as oft beneath the sylvan shade
Their honoured owner strays, come like the sound
Of distant seraph harps, yet speaking clear!
How poor is every sound of earthly things,
When heaven's own music waits the just and pure!

[139] The Earl of Aylesbury.


DIRGE OF NELSON.

Toll Nelson's knell! a soul more brave
Ne'er triumphed on the green-sea wave!
Sad o'er the hero's honoured grave,
Toll Nelson's knell!
The ball of Death unerring flew;
His cheek has lost its ardent hue;
He sinks, amid his gallant crew!
Toll Nelson's knell!
Yet lift, brave chief, thy dying eyes;
Hark! loud huzzas around thee rise;
Aloft the flag of conquest flies!
The day is won!
The day is won—peace to the brave!
But whilst the joyous streamers wave,
We'll think upon the victor's grave!
Peace to the brave![Pg 217]

DEATH OF CAPTAIN COOKE,

OF "THE BELLEROPHON," KILLED IN THE SAME BATTLE.

When anxious Spain, along her rocky shore,
From cliff to cliff returned the sea-fight's roar;
When flash succeeding flash, tremendous broke
The haze incumbent, and the clouds of smoke,
As oft the volume rolled away, thy mien,
Thine eye, serenely terrible, was seen,
My gallant friend.—Hark! the shrill bugle[140] calls,
Is the day won! alas, he falls—he falls!
His soul from pain, from agony release!
Hear his last murmur, Let me die in peace![141]
Yet still, brave Cooke, thy country's grateful tear,
Shall wet the bleeding laurel on thy bier.
But who shall wake to joy, through a long life
Of sadness, thy beloved and widowed wife,
Who now, perhaps, thinks how the green seas foam,
That bear thy victor ship impatient home!
Alas! the well-known views,—the swelling plain,
Thy laurel-circled home, endeared in vain,
The brook, the church, those chestnuts darkly-green,[142]
Yon fir-crowned summit,[143] and the village scene,
Wardour's long sweep of woods, the nearer mill,
And high o'er all, the turrets of Font Hill:
These views, when summer comes, shall charm no more
Him o'er whose welt'ring corse the wild waves roar,[Pg 218]
Enough: 'twas Honour's voice that awful cried,
Glory to him who for his country died!
Yet dreary is her solitude who bends
And mourns the best of husbands, fathers, friends!
Oh! when she wakes at midnight, but to shed
Fresh tears of anguish on her lonely bed,
Thinking on him who is not; then restrain
The tear, O God, and her sad heart sustain!
Giver of life, may she remember still
Thy chastening hand, and to thy sovereign will
Bow silently; not hopeless, while her eye
She raises to a bright futurity,
And meekly trusts, in heaven, Thou wilt restore
That happiness the world can give no more!

[140] He bore down into the thickest fight with a bugle-horn sounding.

[141] His own words, the last he spoke. If I have here been more particular in this description than in that of the great commander, it will be attributed to private friendship, Captain Cooke having lived in the same village.

[142] Portrait of Captain Cooke's place, at Donhead.

[143] Barker's Hill, near Donhead.


BATTLE OF CORRUNA.

The tide of fate rolls on!—heart-pierced and pale,
The gallant soldier lies,[144] nor aught avail,
The shield, the sword, the spirit of the brave,
From rapine's armed hand thy vales to save,
Land of illustrious heroes, who, of yore,
Drenched the same plains with the invader's gore,
Stood frowning, in the front of death, and hurled
Defiance to the conquerors[145] of the world!
Oh, when we hear the agonising tale
Of those who, faint, and fugitive, and pale,
Saw hourly, harassed through their long retreat,
Some worn companion sinking at their feet,[Pg 219]
Yet even in danger and from toil more bold,
Back on their gathering foes the tide of battle rolled;—
While tears of pity mingle with applause,
On the dread scene in silence let us pause;
Yes, pause, and ask, Is not thy awful hand
Stretched out, O God, o'er a devoted land,
Whose vales of beauty Nature spread in vain,
Where misery moaned on the uncultured plain,
Where Bigotry went by with jealous scowl,
Where Superstition muttered in his cowl;
Whilst o'er the Inquisition's dismal holds,
Its horrid banner waved in bleeding folds!
And dost thou thus, Lord of all might, fulfil
With wreck and tempests thy eternal will,
Shatter the arms in which weak kingdoms trust,
And strew their scattered ensigns in the dust?
Oh, if no human wisdom may withstand
The terrors, Lord, of thy uplifted hand;
If the dark tide no prowess can control,
Yet nearer, charged with dread commission, roll;
Still may my country's ark majestic ride,
Though sole, yet safe, on the conflicting tide;
Till hushed be the wild rocking of the blast,
And the red storm of death be overpast!

[144] Sir John Moore.

[145] "Near Mount Medulio, the remains of a great native force destroyed themselves in sight of a Roman army, rather than submit to bondage."—Southey's Travels in Spain and Portugal.


SKETCH FROM BOWDEN HILL AFTER SICKNESS.

How cheering are thy prospects, airy hill,
To him who, pale and languid, on thy brow
Pauses, respiring, and bids hail again
The upland breeze, the comfortable sun,[Pg 220]
And all the landscape's hues! Upon the point
Of the descending steep I stand.
How rich,
How mantling in the gay and gorgeous tints
Of summer! far beneath me, sweeping on,
From field to field, from vale to cultured vale,
The prospect spreads its crowded beauties wide!
Long lines of sunshine, and of shadow, streak
The farthest distance; where the passing light
Alternate falls, 'mid undistinguished trees,
White dots of gleamy domes, and peeping towers,
As from the painter's instant touch, appear.
As thus the eye ranges from hill to hill,
Here white with passing sunshine, there with trees
Innumerable shaded, clustering more,
As the long vale retires, the ample scene,
Warm with new grace and beauty, seems to live.
Lives! all is animation! beauty! hope!
Snatched from the dark and dreamless grave, so late,
Shall I pass silent, now first issuing forth,
To feel again thy fragrance, to respire
Thy breath, to hail thy look, thy living look,
O Nature!
Let me the deep joy contrast,
Which now the inmost heart like music fills,
With the sick chamber's sorrows, oft from morn,
Silent, till lingering eve, save when the sound
Of whispers steal, and bodings breathed more low,
As friends approach the pillow: so awaked
From deadly trance, the sick man lifts his eyes,
Then in despondence closes them on all,
All earth's fond wishes! Oh, how changed are now
His thoughts! he sees rich nature glowing round,
He feels her influence! languid with delight,[Pg 221]
And whilst his eye is filled with transient fire,
He almost thinks he hears her gently say,
Live, live! O Nature, thee, in the soft winds,
Thee, in the soothing sound of summer leaves,
When the still earth lies sultry; thee, methinks,
Ev'n now I hear bid welcome to thy vales
And woods again!
And I will welcome them,
And pour, as erst, the song of heartfelt praise.
From yonder line, where fade the farthest hills
Which bound the blue lap of the swelling vale,
On whose last line, seen like a beacon, hangs
Thy tower,[146] benevolent, accomplished Hoare,
To where I stand, how wide the interval!
Yet instantaneous, to the hurrying eye
Displayed; though peeping towers and villages
Thick scattered, 'mid the intermingling elms,
And towns remotely marked by hovering smoke,
And grass-green pastures with their herds, and seats
Of rural beauty, cottages and farms,
Unnumbered as the hedgerows, lie between!
Roaming at large to where the gray sky bends,
The eye scarce knows to rest, till back recalled
By yonder ivied cloisters[147] in the plain,
Whose turret, peeping pale above the shade,
Smiles in the venerable grace of years.
As the few threads of age's silver hairs,
Just sprinkled o'er the forehead, lend a grace
Of saintly reverence, seemly, though compared
With blooming Mary's tresses like the morn;
So the gray weather-stained towers yet wear
A secret charm impressive, though opposed
To views in verdure flourishing, the woods,[Pg 222]
And scenes of Attic taste, that glitter near.[148]
O venerable pile,[149] though now no more
The pensive passenger, at evening, hears
The slowly-chanted vesper; or the sounds
Of "Miserere," die along the vale;
Yet piety and honoured age[150] retired,
There hold their blameless sojourn, ere the bowl
Be broken, or the silver chord be loosed.
Nor can I pass, snatched from untimely fate,
Without a secret prayer, that so my age,
When many a circling season has declined,
In charity and peace may wait its close.
Yet still be with me, O delightful friend,
Soothing companion of my vacant hours,
Oh, still be with me, Spirit of the Muse!
Not to subdue, or hold in moody spell,
The erring senses, but to animate
And warm my heart, where'er the prospect smiles,
With Nature's fairest views; not to display
Vain ostentations of a poet's art,
But silent, and associate of my joys
Or sorrows, to infuse a tenderness,
A thought, that seems to mingle, as I gaze,
With all the works of God. So cheer my path,
From youth to sober manhood, till the light
Of evening smile upon the fading scene.
And though no pealing clarion swell my fame,
When all my days are gone; let me not pass,
Like the forgotten clouds of yesterday,
Nor unremembered by the fatherless
Of the loved village where my bones are laid.

[146] Sir Richard Hoare's tower at Stourhead.

[147] Lacock Abbey.

[148] Bowood, Mr Dickenson's and Mr Methuen's magnificent mansion.

[149] Lacock Abbey.

[150] The venerable Catholic Countess, who resides in the abbey.[Pg 223]


SUN-DIAL, IN THE CHURCHYARD OF BREMHILL.

So passes silent o'er the dead thy shade,
Brief Time; and hour by hour, and day by day,
The pleasing pictures of the present fade,
And like a summer vapour steal away!
And have not they, who here forgotten lie
(Say, hoary chronicler of ages past!)
Once marked thy shadow with delighted eye,
Nor thought it fled, how certain, and how fast!
Since thou hast stood, and thus thy vigil kept,
Noting each hour, o'er mouldering stones beneath;
The pastor and his flock alike have slept,
And dust to dust proclaimed the stride of death.
Another race succeeds, and counts the hour,
Careless alike; the hour still seems to smile,
As hope, and youth, and life, were in our power;
So smiling and so perishing the while.
I heard the village bells, with gladsome sound,
When to these scenes a stranger I drew near,
Proclaim the tidings to the village round,
While memory wept upon the good man's bier.[151]
Even so, when I am dead, shall the same bells
Ring merrily, when my brief days are gone;[Pg 224]
While still the lapse of time thy shadow tells,
And strangers gaze upon my humble stone!
Enough, if we may wait in calm content,
The hour that bears us to the silent sod;
Blameless improve the time that heaven has lent,
And leave the issue to thy will, O God!

[151] My predecessor, Rev. Nathaniel Hume, canon residentiary and precentor of Salisbury, a man of exemplary benevolence.[Pg 225]


THE SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY BY SEA:

A DESCRIPTIVE AND HISTORICAL POEM.[Pg 226]


INTRODUCTION.[152]

I need not perhaps inform the reader, that I had before written a Canto on the subject of this poem; but I was dissatisfied with the metre, and felt the necessity of some connecting idea that might give it a degree of unity and coherence.

This difficulty I considered as almost inseparable from the subject; I therefore relinquished the design of making an extended poem on events, which, though highly interesting and poetical, were too unconnected with each other to unite properly in one regular whole. But on being kindly permitted to peruse the sheets of Mr Clarke's valuable work on the History of Navigation, I conceived (without supposing historically with him that all ideas of navigation were derived from the ark of Noah) that I might adopt the circumstance poetically, as capable of furnishing an unity of design; besides which, it had the advantage of giving a more serious cast and character to the whole.

To obviate such objections as might be made by those who, from an inattentive survey, might imagine there was any carelessness of arrangement, I shall lay before the reader a general analysis of the several books; and, I trust, he will readily perceive a leading principle, on which the poem begins, proceeds, and ends.

I feel almost a necessity for doing this in justice to myself, as some compositions have been certainly misunderstood, where the connexion might, by the least attention, have been perceived. In going over part of the same ground which I had taken before, I could not always avoid the use of similar expressions.

I trust I need not apologise for having, in some instances, departed from strict historical facts. It is not true that Camoens sailed with De Gama, though, from the authority of Voltaire, it has been sometimes supposed that he did. There are other circumstances for which I may have less reason to expect pardon. The Egyptians were never, or but for a short time, a maritime nation. In answer to this, I must say, that history and poetry are two things; and though the poet has no right to contradict the historian, yet, if he find two opinions upon points of history, he may certainly take that which is most susceptible of poetical ornament; particularly if it have sufficient plausibility, and the sanction of respectable names.

In deducing the first maritime attempts from Thebes, so called from Thebaoth, the Ark, founded by the sons of Cush, who first inhabited the caves[Pg 227] on the granite mountains of Ethiopia, I have followed the idea of Bruce, which has many testimonies, particularly that of Herodotus, in its favour. In making the ships of Ammon first pass the straits of Babelmandel, and sail to Ophir, I have the authority of Sir Isaac Newton. But still these points must, from their nature, be obscure; the poet, however, has a right to build upon them, whilst what he advances is not in direct contradiction to all historical admitted facts. He may take what is shadowy, if it be plausible, poetical, and coherent with his general plan. Having said ingenuously thus much, I hope I shall not be severely accused for having admitted, en passant, some ideas (which may be thought visionary) in the notes, respecting the allusion to the ark in Theocritus, the situation of Ophir, the temple of Solomon, and the algum-tree.

I must also submit to the candour of the critic, the necessity I sometimes felt myself under of varying the verse, and admitting, when the subject seemed particularly to require it, a break into the measure. He will consider, as this poem is neither didactic, nor epic, that might lead on the mind by diversity of characters, and of prospects; it was therefore necessary (at least I thought myself at liberty so to do) to break the uniformity of the subject by digression, contrast, occasional change of verse, et cet. But after all, at a time so unfavourable to long poems, I doubt whether the reader will have patience to accompany me to the end of my circumnavigation. If he do, and if this much larger poetical work than I have ever attempted should be as favourably received as what I have before published has been, I shall sincerely rejoice.

At all events, in an age which I think has produced genuine poetry, if I cannot say "Ed Io, anchi, sono pittore;" it will be a consolation to me to reflect, that I have no otherwise courted the muse, than as the consoler of sorrow, the painter of scenes romantic and interesting, the handmaid of good sense, unadulterated feelings, and religious hope.

It was at first intended that the poem should consist of six books; one book being assigned to De Gama, and another to Columbus. These have been compressed. I was the more inclined to this course, as the great subject of the Discovery of America is in the hands of such poets as Mr Southey and Mr Rogers.

Donhead, Nov. 3, 1804.

[152] Dedicated to His Royal Highness George Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.)[Pg 228]


ANALYSIS.

BOOK THE FIRST.

The book opens with the resting of the Ark on the mountains of the great Indian Caucasus, considered by many authors as Ararat: the present state of the inhabited world, contrasted with its melancholy appearance immediately after the flood. The poem returns to the situation of our forefathers on leaving the ark; beautiful evening described. The Angel of Destruction appears to Noah in a dream, and informs him that although he and his family alone have escaped, the very Ark, which was the means of his present preservation, shall be the cause of the future triumph of Destruction.

In his dream, the evils in consequence of the discovery of America, the slave-trade, et cet., are set before him. Noah, waking from disturbed sleep, ascends the summit of Caucasus. An angel appears to him; tells him that the revelations in his dream were permitted by the Almighty; that he is commissioned to explain everything; he presents to his view the shadow of the world as it exists; regions are pointed out; the dispersion of mankind; the rise of superstition; the birth of a Saviour, and the triumph of Charity: that navigation shall be the means of extending the knowledge of God over the globe; and though some evils must take place, happiness and love shall finally prevail upon the earth.

BOOK THE SECOND

Commences with an ardent wish, that as our forefather viewed the world clearly displayed before him in a vision, so we of these late days might be able, through the clouds of time, to look back upon the early ages of the globe; we might then see, in their splendour, Thebes, Edom, et cet.; but the early history of mankind is obscure, the only certain light is from the sacred writings. By these we are informed of the dispersion of earth's first inhabitants, after the flood. The descendants of Ham, after this dispersion, according to Bruce, having first gained the summits of the Ethiopian mountains, there form subterraneous abodes. In process of time they descend, people Egypt, build Thebes; obscure tradition of the Ark; first make voyages.

Ophir is not long afterwards discovered. This Bruce places, on most respectable authority, at Sofala; I have ventured to place it otherwhere, but still admitting one general idea, that when the way to it overland was attended with difficulties, an easier course was at last opened by sea. As to Ammon's exploits, I must shelter myself under the authority of Sir Isaac Newton. After a sacrifice by the Egyptians, the monsoon sets in. The ships follow its direction, as the mariners imagine a god leads them. Hence the discovery of so much of the world by sea. Reflection on commerce. The voyage of Solomon. A description of the glory of Tyre, the most commercial mart of the early world. Tyrian discoveries in the Mediterranean; voyages to the coast of Italy and Spain, to the Straits, and from thence to Britain.[Pg 229]

Tyre is destroyed, and the thought naturally arises, that Britain, which, at the time of the splendour of the maritime Tyrians, was an obscure island, is now at the summit of maritime renown; while Tyre is a place where only "the fisherman dries his net." This leads to an eulogium on England; and the book concludes with the triumphs of her fleets and armies on that very shore, on which science, and art, and commerce, and maritime renown, first arose.

This digression, introducing the siege of Acre, appeared to the author not only natural, but in some measure necessary to break the uniformity of the subject.

BOOK THE THIRD

Commences with the feelings excited by the conclusion of the last, by a warm wish that England may for ages retain her present elevated rank. This leads to the consideration of her naval opulence, which carries us back to the subject we had left—the fate of Tyre.

The history of the empires succeeding Tyre is touched on: the fall of her destroyer, Babylon; the succession of Cyrus; the character of Cyrus, and his want of enlarged policy, having so many means of encouraging commerce; and his ill-fated expedition to the East Indies.

Alexander the Great first conceives the idea of establishing a vast maritime empire: in his march of conquest, he proceeds to the last river of the Punjab, the Hyphasis, which descends into the Indus, the sources of which are near the mountains of Caucasus, where the ark rested.

The Indian account of the Deluge, it is well known, resembles most wonderfully the history of Moses. When Alexander can proceed no further, poetical fiction introduces the person of a Brahmin, who relates the history of the Deluge: viz., that one sacred man was, in this part of the world, miraculously preserved by an ark; the further march of the conqueror towards the holy spot is deprecated: his best glory shall be derived from the sea, and from uniting either world in commerce. Alexander is animated with the idea; and his fleet, under Nearchus, proceeds down the Indus to the sea. This forms a middle, connected with the account of the Deluge, book first.

BOOK THE FOURTH.

Nearchus' voyage being accomplished, and Alexandria now complete, Commerce is represented as standing on the Pharos, and calling to all nations. The tide of commerce would have flowed still in the track pointed out by the sagacity of Alexander, but that a wider scene, beyond the ancient world, opens to the view of Discovery. The use of the magnet is discovered; and Henry of Portugal prosecutes the plan of opening a passage along the coast of Africa to the East. One of his ships on its return from the expedition has been driven from Cape Bojador (the formidable boundary of Portuguese research) by a storm at sea. The isle afterwards called Porto Santo is discovered. The circumstance related; but the extraordinary appearance of a supernatural shade over the waters at a distance excites many fears and superstitions. The attempt, however, to penetrate the mystery, is resolved on.[Pg 230] Zarco reaches the island of Madeira; tomb found; which introduces the episode. At the tomb of the first discoverer (whether this be fanciful or not, is nothing to poetry) the Spirit of Discovery casts her eyes over the globe; she pursues De Gama to the East; history of Camoens touched on; Columbus; sees with triumph the discovery of a new world, and from thence extends her ideas till the great globe is encompassed; after which she returns to the "tranquil bosom of the Thames," with Drake, the first circumnavigator, whose ship, after its various perils, being laid up in that river, gives rise to some brief concluding reflections.

BOOK THE FIFTH.

Hitherto we have described only the triumphs of Discovery; but it appears necessary that many incidental evils, special and general, should be mentioned. Fate and miserable end of some great commanders,—of our gallant and benevolent countryman, Cook. After the natural feelings of regret, the mind is led to contemplate the great advantages of his voyages: the health of seamen; the accessions to geographical knowledge; the spirit of humanity and science; his exploring the east part of New-Holland; and being the first to determine the proximity of America to Asia. This circumstance leads us back from the point whence we set out—the ark of Noah; and hence we are partly enabled to solve, what has been for so many ages unknown, the difficulty respecting the earth's being peopled from one family.

The poem having thus gained a middle and end, the conclusion of the whole is, that as this uncertainty in the physical world has been by Discovery cleared up, so all the apparent contradictions in the moral world shall be reconciled. We have yet many existing evils to deplore; but when the Supreme Disposer's plan shall have been completed, then the earth, which has been explored and enlightened by discovery and knowledge, shall be destroyed; but the mind of man, rendered at last perfect, shall endure through all ages, and "justify His ways from whom it sprung."


Such is the outline and plan of the following poem. I have felt myself obliged to give this hasty analysis, thinking that self-defence almost required it, lest a careless reader might charge me with carelessness of arrangement.

I must again beg it to be remembered, that History and Poetry are two things; and that the poet has a right to build his system, not on what is exact truth, but on what is, at least, plausible; what will form, in the clearest manner, a whole; and what is most susceptible of poetical ornament.[Pg 231]


THE SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY BY SEA.

BOOK THE FIRST.

Awake a louder and a loftier strain!
Beloved harp, whose tones have oft beguiled
My solitary sorrows, when I left
The scene of happier hours, and wandered far,
A pale and drooping stranger; I have sat
(While evening listened to the convent bell)
On the wild margin of the Rhine, and wooed
Thy sympathies, "a-weary of the world,"
And I have found with thee sad fellowship,
Yet always sweet, whene'er my languid hand 10
Passed carelessly o'er the responsive wires,
While unambitious of the laurelled meed
That crowns the gifted bard, I only asked
Some stealing melodies, the heart might love,
And a brief sonnet to beguile my tears!
But I had hope that one day I might wake
Thy strings to loftier utterance; and now,
Bidding adieu to glens, and woods, and streams,
And turning where, magnificent and vast,
Main Ocean bursts upon my sight, I strike,—[Pg 232] 20
Rapt in the theme on which I long have mused,—
Strike the loud lyre, and as the blue waves rock,
Swell to their solemn roar the deepening chords.
Lift thy indignant billows high, proclaim
Thy terrors, Spirit of the hoary seas!
I sing thy dread dominion, amid wrecks,
And storms, and howling solitudes, to Man
Submitted: awful shade of Camoens
Bend from the clouds of heaven.
By the bold tones 30
Of minstrelsy, that o'er the unknown surge
(Where never daring sail before was spread)
Echoed, and startled from his long repose
The indignant Phantom[153] of the stormy Cape;
Oh, let me think that in the winds I hear
Thy animating tones, whilst I pursue
With ardent hopes, like thee, my venturous way,
And bid the seas resound my song! And thou,
Father of Albion's streams, majestic Thames,
Amid the glittering scene, whose long-drawn wave 40
Goes noiseless, yet with conscious pride, beneath
The thronging vessels' shadows; nor through scenes
More fair, the yellow Tagus, or the Nile,
That ancient river, winds. Thou to the strain
Shalt haply listen, that records the might
Of Ocean, like a giant at thy feet
Vanquished, and yielding to thy gentle state
The ancient sceptre of his dread domain!
All was one waste of waves, that buried deep
Earth and its multitudes: the Ark alone, 50
High on the cloudy van of Ararat,[Pg 233]
Rested; for now the death-commissioned storm
Sinks silent, and the eye of day looks out
Dim through the haze; while short successive gleams
Flit o'er the weltering Deluge as it shrinks,
Or the transparent rain-drops, falling few,
Distinct and larger glisten. So the Ark
Rests upon Ararat; but nought around
Its inmates can behold, save o'er th' expanse
Of boundless waters, the sun's orient orb 60
Stretching the hull's long shadow, or the moon
In silence, through the silver-cinctured clouds,
Sailing as she herself were lost, and left
In Nature's loneliness!
But oh, sweet Hope,
Thou bid'st a tear of holy ecstasy
Start to their eye-lids, when at night the Dove,
Weary, returns, and lo! an olive leaf
Wet in her bill: again she is put forth,
When the seventh morn shines on the hoar abyss:— 70
Due evening comes: her wings are heard no more!
The dawn awakes, not cold and dripping sad,
But cheered with lovelier sunshine; far away
The dark-red mountains slow their naked peaks
Upheave above the waste; Imaus[154] gleams;
Fume the huge torrents on his desert sides;
Till at the awful voice of Him who rules
The storm, the ancient Father and his train
On the dry land descend.
Here let us pause. 80
No noise in the vast circuit of the globe
Is heard; no sound of human stirring: none[Pg 234]
Of pasturing herds, or wandering flocks; nor song
Of birds that solace the forsaken woods
From morn till eve; save in that spot that holds
The sacred Ark: there the glad sounds ascend,
And Nature listens to the breath of Life.
The fleet horse bounds, high-neighing to the wind
That lifts his streaming mane; the heifer lows;
Loud sings the lark amid the rainbow's hues; 90
The lion lifts him muttering; Man comes forth—
He kneels upon the earth—he kisses it;
And to the God who stretched that radiant bow,
He lifts his trembling transports.
From one spot
Alone of earth such sounds ascend. How changed
The human prospect! when from realm to realm,
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle,
Flung to the stormy main, man's murmuring race,
Various and countless as the shells that strew 100
The ocean's winding marge, are spread; from shores
Sinensian, where the passing proas gleam
Innumerous 'mid the floating villages:
To Acapulco west, where laden deep
With gold and gems rolls the superb galleon,
Shadowing the hoar Pacific: from the North,
Where on some snowy promontory's height
The Lapland wizard beats his drum, and calls
The spirits of the winds, to th' utmost South,
Where savage Fuego shoots its cold white peaks, 110
Dreariest of lands, and the poor Pecherais[155]
Shiver and moan along its waste of snows.
So stirs the earth; and for the Ark that passed[Pg 235]
Alone and darkling o'er the dread abyss,
Ten thousand and ten thousand barks are seen
Fervent and glancing on the friths and sounds;
From the Bermudian that, with masts inclined,
Shoots like a dart along; to the tall ship
That, like a stately swan, in conscious pride
Breasts beautiful the rising surge, and throws 120
The gathered waters back, and seems to move
A living thing, along her lucid way
Streaming in white-winged glory to the sun!
Some waft the treasures of the east; some bear
Their country's dark artillery o'er the surge
Frowning; some in the southern solitudes,
Bound on discovery of new regions, spread,
'Mid rocks of driving ice, that crash around,
Their weather-beaten mainsail; or explore
Their perilous way from isle to isle, and wind 130
The tender social tie; connecting man,
Wherever scattered, with his fellow-man.
How many ages rolled away ere thus,
From Nature's general wreck, the world's great scene
Was tenanted! See from their sad abode,
At Heaven's dread voice, heard from the solitude,
As in the dayspring of created things,
The sad survivors of a buried world
Come forth; on them, though desolate their seat,
The sky looks down with smiles; for the broad sun, 140
That to the west slopes his untired career,
Hangs o'er the water's brim. The aged sire,
Now rising from his evening sacrifice,
Amid his offspring stands, and lifts his eyes,
Moist with a tear, to the bright bow: the fire
Yet on the altar burns, whose trailing fume
Goes slowly up, and marks the lucid cope[Pg 236]
Of the soft sky, where distant clouds hang still
And beautiful. So placid Evening steals
After the lurid storm, like a sweet form 150
Of fairy following a perturbed shape
Of giant terror, that in darkness strode.
Slow sinks the lord of day; the clustering clouds
More ardent burn; confusion of rich hues,
Crimson, and gold, and purple, bright, inlay
Their varied edges; till before the eye,
As their last lustre fades, small silver stars
Succeed; and twinkling each in its own sphere,
Thick as the frost's unnumbered spangles, strew
The slowly-paling heavens. Tired Nature seems 160
Like one who, struggling long for life, had beat
The billows, and scarce gained a desert crag,
O'er-spent, to sink to rest: the tranquil airs
Whisper repose. Now sunk in sleep reclines
The Father of the world; then the sole moon
Mounts high in shadowy beauty; every cloud
Retires, as in the blue space she moves on
Amid the fulgent orbs supreme, and looks
The queen of heaven and earth. Stilly the streams
Retiring sound; midnight's high hollow vault 170
Faint echoes; stilly sound the distant streams.
When, hark! a strange and mingled wail, and cries
As of ten thousand thousand perishing!
A phantom, 'mid the shadows of the dead,
Before the holy Patriarch, as he slept,
Stood terrible:—Dark as a storm it stood
Of thunder and of winds, like hollow seas
Remote; meantime a voice was heard: Behold,
Noah, the foe of thy weak race! my name
Destruction, whom thy sons in yonder plains 180
Shall worship, and all grim, with mooned horns[Pg 237]
Paint fabling: when the flood from off the earth
Before it swept the living multitudes,
I rode amid the hurricane; I heard
The universal shriek of all that lived.
In vain they climbed the rocky heights: I struck
The adamantine mountains, and like dust
They crumbled in the billowy foam. My hall,
Deep in the centre of the seas, received
The victims as they sank! Then, with dark joy, 190
I sat amid ten thousand carcases,
That weltered at my feet! But thou and thine
Have braved my utmost fury: what remains
But vengeance, vengeance on thy hated race;—
And be that sheltering shrine the instrument!
Thence, taught to stem the wild sea when it roars,
In after-times to lands remote, where roamed
The naked man and his wan progeny,
They, more instructed in the fatal use
Of arts and arms, shall ply their way; and thou 200
Wouldst bid the great deep cover thee to see
The sorrows of thy miserable sons:
But turn, and view in part the truths I speak.
He said, and vanished with a dismal sound
Of lamentation from his grisly troop.
Then saw the just man in his dream what seemed
A new and savage land: huge forests stretched
Their world of wood, shading like night the banks
Of torrent-foaming rivers, many a league
Wandering and lost in solitudes; green isles 210
Here shone, and scattered huts beneath the shade
Of branching palms were seen; whilst in the sun
A naked infant playing, stretched his hand
To reach a speckled snake, that through the leaves[Pg 238]
Oft darted, or its shining volumes rolled
Erratic.
From the woods a sable man
Came, as from hunting; in his arms he took
The smiling child, that with the feathers played
Which nodded on his brow; the sheltering hut 220
Received them, and the cheerful smoke went up
Above the silent woods.
Anon was heard
The sound as of strange thunder, from the mouths
Of hollow engines, as, with white sails spread,
Tall vessels, hulled like the great Ark, approached
The verdant shores: they, in a woody cove
Safe-stationed, hang their pennants motionless
Beneath the palms. Meantime, with shouts and song,
The boat rows hurrying to the land; nor long 230
Ere the great sea for many a league is tinged,
While corpse on corpse, down the red torrent rolled,[156]
Floats, and the inmost forests murmur—Blood.
Now vast savannahs meet the view, where high
Above the arid grass the serpent lifts
His tawny crest:—Not far a vessel rides
Upon the sunny main, and to the shore
Black savage tribes a mournful captive urge,
Who looks to heaven with anguish. Him they cast
Bound in the rank hold of the prison-ship, 240
With many a sad associate in despair,
Each panting chained to his allotted space;
And moaning, whilst their wasted eye-balls roll.
Another scene appears: the naked slave
Writhes to the bloody lash; but more to view
Nature forbad, for starting from his dream[Pg 239]
The just Man woke. Shuddering he gazed around;
He saw the earliest beam of morning shine
Slant on the hills without; he heard the breath
Of placid kine, but troubled thoughts and sad 250
Arose. He wandered forth; and now far on,
By heavy musings led, reached a ravine
Most mild amid the tempest-riven rocks,
Through whose dark pass he saw the flood remote
Gray-spreading, while the mists of morn went up.
He paused; when on his lonely pathway flashed
A light, and sounds as of approaching wings
Instant were heard. A radiant form appeared,
Celestial, and with heavenly accent said:
Noah, I come commissioned from above, 260
Where angels move before th' eternal throne
Of heaven's great King in glory, to dispel
The mists of darkness from thy sight; for know,
Not unpermitted of th' Eternal One
The shadows of thy melancholy dream
Hung o'er thee slumbering: Mine the task to show
Futurity's faint scene;—now follow me.
He said; and up to the unclouded height
Of that great Eastern mountain,[157] that surveys
Dim Asia, they ascended. Then his brow 270
The Angel touched, and cleared with whispered charm
The mortal mist before his eyes.—At once
(As in the skiey mirage, when the seer
From lonely Kilda's western summit sees
A wondrous scene in shadowy vision rise)
The nether world, with seas and shores, appeared
Submitted to his view: but not as then,
A melancholy waste, deform and sad;[Pg 240]
But fair as now the green earth spreads, with woods,
Champaign, and hills, and many winding streams 280
Robed, the magnificent illusion rose.
He saw in mazy longitude devolved
The mighty Brahma-Pooter; to the East
Thibet and China, and the shining sea
That sweeps the inlets of Japan, and winds
Amid the Curile and Aleutian isles,
Pale to the north. Siberia's snowy scenes
Are spread; Jenisca and the freezing Ob
Appear, and many a forest's shady track
Far as the Baltic, and the utmost bounds 290
Of Scandinavia; thence the eye returns:
And lo! great Lebanon—abrupt and dark
With pines, and airy Carmel, rising slow
Above the midland main, where hang the capes
Of Italy and Greece; swart Africa,
Beneath the parching sun, her long domain
Reveals, the mountains of the Moon, the source
Of Nile, the wild mysterious Niger, lost
Amid the torrid sands; and to the south
Her stormy cape. Beyond the misty main 300
The weary eye scarce wanders, when behold
Plata, through vaster territory poured;
And Andes, sweeping the horizon's tract,
Mightiest of mountains! whose eternal snows
Feel not the nearer sun; whose umbrage chills
The murmuring ocean; whose volcanic fires
A thousand nations view, hung like the moon
High in the middle waste of heaven; thy range,
Shading far off the Southern hemisphere,
A dusky file Titanic. 310
So spread
Before our great forefather's view the globe[Pg 241]
Appeared; with seas, and shady continents,
And verdant isles, and mountains lifting dark
Their forests, and indenting rivers, poured
In silvery maze. And, Lo! the Angel said,
These scenes, O Noah, thy posterity
Shall people; but remote and scattered wide,
They shall forget their God, and see no trace,
Save dimly, of their Great Original. 320
Rude caves shall be their dwellings: till, with noise
Of multitudes, imperial cities rise.
But the Arch Fiend, the foe of God and man,
Shall fling his spells; and, 'mid illusions drear,
Blear Superstition shall arise, the earth
Eclipsing.—Deep in caves,[158] vault within vault
Far winding; or in night of thickest woods,
Where no bird sings; or 'mid huge circles gray
Of uncouth stone, her aspect wild, and pale
As the terrific flame that near her burns, 330
She her mysterious rites, 'mid hymns and cries,
Shall wake, and to her shapeless idols, vast
And smeared with blood, or shrines of lust, shall lead
Her votaries, maddening as she waves her torch,
With visage more expanded, to the groans
Of human sacrifice.
Nor think that love
And happiness shall dwell in vales remote:
The naked man shall see the glorious sun,
And think it but enlightens his poor isle, 340
Hid in the watery waste; cold on his limbs
The ocean-spray shall beat; his Deities
Shall be the stars, the thunder, and the winds;
And if a stranger on his rugged shores
Be cast, his offered blood shall stain the strand.[Pg 242]
O wretched man! who then shall raise thee up
From this thy dark estate, forlorn and lost?
The Patriarch said.
The Angel answered mild,
His God, who destined him to noblest ends! 350
But mutual intercourse shall stir at first
The sunk and grovelling spirit, and from sleep
The sullen energies of man rouse up,
As of a slumbering giant. He shall walk
Sublime amid the works of God: the earth
Shall own his wide dominion; the great sea
Shall toss in vain its roaring waves; his eye
Shall scan the bright orbs as they roll above
Glorious, and his expanding heart shall burn,
As wide and wider in magnificence 360
The vast scene opens; in the winds and clouds,
The seas, and circling planets, he shall see
The shadow of a dread Almighty move.
Then shall the Dayspring rise, before whose beam
The darkness of the world is past:—For, hark!
Seraphs and angel-choirs with symphonies
Acclaiming of ten thousand golden harps,
Amid the bursting clouds of heaven revealed,
At once, in glory jubilant, they sing—
God the Redeemer liveth! He who took 370
Man's nature on him, and in human shroud
Veiled his immortal glory! He is risen!
God the Redeemer liveth! And behold!
The gates of life and immortality
Open to all that breathe!
Oh, might the strains
But win the world to love; meek Charity
Should lift her looks and smile; and with faint voice
The weary pilgrim of the earth exclaim,[Pg 243]
As close his eye-lids—Death, where is thy sting? 380
O Grave, where is thy victory?
And ye,
Whom ocean's melancholy wastes divide,
Who slumber to the sullen surge, awake,
Break forth into thanksgiving, for the bark
That rolled upon the desert deep, shall bear
The tidings of great joy to all that live,
Tidings of life and light.
Oh, were those men,
(The Patriarch raised his drooping looks, and said) 390
Such in my dream I saw, who to the isles
And peaceful sylvan scenes o'er the wide seas
Came tilting; then their murderous instruments
Lifted, that flashed to the indignant sun,
Whilst the poor native died:—Oh, were those men
Instructed in the laws of holier love,
Thou hast displayed?
The Angel meek replied—
Call rather fiends of hell those who abuse
The mercies they receive: that such, indeed, 400
On whom the light of clearer knowledge beams,
Should wander forth, and for the tender voice
Of charity should scatter crimes and woe,
And drench, where'er they pass, the earth with blood,
Might make ev'n angels weep:
But the poor tribes
That groaned and died, deem not them innocent
As injured; more ensanguined rites and deeds
Of deepest stain were theirs; and what if God,
So to approve his justice, and exact 410
Most even retribution, blood for blood,
Bid forth the Angel of the storm of death!
Thou saw'st, indeed, the seeming innocence[Pg 244]
Of man the savage; but thou saw'st not all.
Behold the scene more near! hear the shrill whoop
Of murderous war! See tribes on neighbour tribes
Rush howling, their red hatchets wielding high,
And shouting to their barbarous gods! Behold
The captive bound, yet vaunting direst hate,
And mocking his tormentors, while they gash 420
His flesh unshrinking, tear his eyeballs, burn
His beating breast! Hear the dark temples ring
To groans and hymns of murderous sacrifice;
While the stern priest, the rites of horror done,
With hollow-echoing chaunt lifts up the heart
Of the last victim 'mid the yelling throng,
Quivering, and red, and reeking to the sun![159]
Reclaimed by gradual intercourse, his heart
Warmed with new sympathies, the forest-chief
Shall cast the bleeding hatchet to his gods 430
Of darkness, and one Lord of all adore—
Maker of heaven and earth.
Let it suffice,
He hath permitted evil for a while
To mingle its deep hues and sable shades
Amid life's fair perspective, as thou saw'st
Of late the blackening clouds; but in the end
All these shall roll away, and evening still
Come smilingly, while the great sun looks down
On the illumined scene. So Charity 440
Shall smile on all the earth, and Nature's God
Look down upon his works; and while far off
The shrieking night-fiends fly, one voice shall rise
From shore to shore, from isle to furthest isle[Pg 245]
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
Peace and good-will to men!
Thou rest in hope,
And Him with meekness and with trust adore!
He said, and spreading bright his ampler wing,
Flew to the heaven of heavens; the meek man bowed
Adoring, and, with pensive thoughts resigned,
Bent from the aching height his lonely way.

[153] See Camoens' description of the dreadful Phantom at the Cape of Good Hope.

[154] Part of the mountainous range of the vast Indian Caucasus, where the Ark rested.

[155] Forster says the miserable creatures who visited the ship in the Straits of Magellan, seldom uttered any other word than "Passeray"—hence the name of Pecherais was given to them.

[156] From Dariena to Nicaragua, the Spaniards slew 400,000 people with dogs, sword, fire, and divers tortures.—Purchas.

[157] That tremendous Caff (according to the Indian superstition) inhabited by spirits, demons, and the griffin Simorg.

[158] The caves of Elephanta and Salsette.

[159] At the dedication of the temple of Vitzuliputzli, a.d. 1486, 64,080 human victims were sacrificed in four days.


BOOK THE SECOND.

Oh for a view, as from that cloudless height
Where the great Patriarch gazed upon the world,
His offspring's future seat, back on the vale
Of years departed! We might then behold
Thebes, from her sleep of ages, awful rise,
Like an imperial shadow, from the Nile,
To airy harpings;[160] and with lifted torch
Scatter the darkness through the labyrinths
Of death, where rest her kings, without a name,
And light the winding caves and pyramids 10
In the long night of years! We might behold
Edom, in towery strength, majestic rise,
And awe the Erithræan, to the plains
Where Migdol frowned, and Baal-zephon stood,[161]
Before whose naval shrine the Memphian host
And Pharaoh's pomp were shattered! As her fleets
From Ezion went seaward, to the sound[Pg 246]
Of shouts and brazen trumpets, we might say,
How glorious, Edom, in thy ships art thou,
And mighty as the rushing winds! 20
But night
Is on the mournful scene: a voice is heard,
As of the dead, from hollow sepulchres,
And echoing caverns of the Nile—So pass
The shades of mortal glory! One pure ray
From Sinai bursts (where God of old revealed
His glory, through the darkness terrible
That sat on the dread Mount), and we descry
Thy sons, O Noah! peopling wide the scene,
From Shinar's plain to Egypt. 30
Let the song
Reveal, who first "went down to the great sea
In ships," and braved the stormy element.
The Sons of Cush.[162] Still fearful of the flood,
They on the marble range and cloudy heights
Of that vast mountain barrier,—which uprises
High o'er the Red Sea coast, and stretches on
With the sea-line of Afric's southern bounds
To Sofala,—delved in the granite mass
Their dark abode, spreading from rock to rock 40
Their subterranean cities, whilst they heard,
Secure, the rains of vexed Orion rush.
Emboldened they descend, and now their fanes
On Egypt's champaign darken, whilst the noise
Of caravans is heard, and pyramids
In the pale distance gleam. Imperial Thebes
Starts, like a giant, from the dust; as when
Some dread enchanter waves his wand, and towers
And palaces far in the sandy wilds
Spring up: and still, her sphinxes, huge and high,[Pg 247] 50
Her marble wrecks colossal, seem to speak
The work of some great arm invisible,
Surpassing human strength; while toiling Time,
That sways his desolating scythe so vast,
And weary havoc murmuring at his side,
Smite them in vain. Heard ye the mystic song
Resounding from her caverns as of yore?
Sing to Osiris,[163] for his ark
No more in night profound
Of ocean, fathomless and dark, 60
Typhon[164] has sunk! Aloud the sistrums ring—
Osiris!—to our god Osiris sing!—
And let the midnight shore to rites of joy resound!
Thee, great restorer of the world, the song
Darkly described, and that mysterious shrine
That bore thee o'er the desolate abyss,
When the earth sank with all its noise!
So taught,
The borderers of the Erithræan launch'd
Their barks, and to the shores of Araby 70
First their brief voyage stretched, and thence returned
With aromatic gums, or spicy wealth
Of India. Prouder triumphs yet await,
For lo! where Ophir's gold unburied shines
New to the sun; but perilous the way,
O'er Ariana's[165] spectred wilderness,
Where ev'n the patient camel scarce endures
The long, long solitude of rocks and sands,
Parched, faint, and sinking, in his mid-day course.
But see! upon the shore great Ammon[166] stands—[Pg 248] 80
Be the deep opened! At his voice the deep
Is opened; and the shading ships that ride
With statelier masts and ampler hulls the seas,
Have passed the Straits, and left the rocks and GATES
Of death.[167] Where Asia's cape the autumnal surge
Throws blackening back, beneath a hollow cove,
Awhile the mariners their fearful course
Ponder, ere yet they tempt the further deep;
Then plunged into the sullen main, they cast
The youthful victim, to the dismal gods 90
Devoted, whilst the smoke of sacrifice
Slowly ascends:
Hear, King of Ocean! hear,
Dark phantom! whether in thy secret cave
Thou sittest, where the deeps are fathomless,
Nor hear'st the waters hum, though all above
Is uproar loud; or on the widest waste,
Far from all land, mov'st in the noontide sun,
With dread and lonely shadow; or on high
Dost ride upon the whirling spires, and fume 100
Of that enormous volume, that ascends
Black to the skies, and with the thunder's roar
Bursts, while the waves far on are still: Oh, hear,
Dread power, and save! lest hidden eddies whirl
The helpless vessels down,—down to the deeps
Of night, where thou, O Father of the Storm,
Dost sleep; or thy vast stature might appear
High o'er the flashing waves, and (as thy beard
Streamed to the cloudy winds) pass o'er their track,
And they are seen no more; or monster-birds 110
Darkening, with pennons lank, the morn, might bear
The victims to some desert rock, and leave
Their scattered bones to whiten in the winds![Pg 249]
The Ocean-gods, with sacrifice appeased,
Propitious smile; the thunder's roar has ceased,
Smooth and in silence o'er the azure realm
The tall ships glide along; for the South-West
Cheerly and steady blows, and the blue seas
Beneath the shadow sparkle; on they speed,
The long coast varies as they pass from cove 120
To sheltering cove, the long coast winds away;
Till now emboldened by the unvarying gale,
Still urging to the East, the sailors deem
Some god inviting swells their willing sails,
Or Destiny's fleet dragons through the surge
Cut their mid-way, yoked to the beaked prows
Unseen!
Night after night the heavens' still cope,
That glows with stars, they watch, till morning bears
Airs of sweet fragrance o'er the yellow tide: 130
Then Malabar her green declivities
Hangs beauteous, beaming to the eye afar
Like scenes of pictured bliss, the shadowy land
Of soft enchantment. Now Salmala's peak
Shines high in air, and Ceylon's dark green woods
Beneath are spread; while, as the strangers wind
Along the curving shores, sounds of delight
Are heard; and birds of richest plumage, red
And yellow, glance along the shades; or fly
With morning twitter, circling o'er the mast, 140
As singing welcome to the weary crew.
Here rest, till westering gales again invite.
Then o'er the line of level seas glide on,
As the green deities of ocean guide,
Till Ophir's distant hills spring from the main,
And their long labours cease.[Pg 250]
Hence Asia slow
Her length unwinds; and Siam and Ceylon
Through wider channels pour their gems and gold
To swell the pomp of Egypt's kings, or deck 150
With new magnificence the rising dome[168]
Of Palestine's imperial lord.
His wants
To satisfy; "with comelier draperies"
To clothe his shivering form; to bid his arm
Burst, like the Patagonian's,[169] the vain cords
That bound his untried strength; to nurse the flame
Of wider heart-ennobling sympathies;—
For this young Commerce roused the energies
Of man; else rolling back, stagnant and foul, 160
Like the great element on which his ships
Go forth, without the currents, winds, and tides
That swell it, as with awful life, and keep
From rank putrescence the long-moving mass:
And He, the sovereign Maker of the world,
So to excite man's high activities,
Bad various climes their various produce pour.
On Asia's plain mark where the cotton-tree
Hangs elegant its golden gems; the date
Sits purpling the soft lucid haze, that lights 170
The still, pale, sultry landscape; breathing sweet
Along old Ocean's billowy marge, the eve
Bears spicy fragrance far; the bread-fruit shades
The southern isles; and gems, and richest ore,
Lurk in the caverned mountains of the west.
With ampler shade the northern oak uplifts
His strength, itself a forest, and descends
Proud to the world of waves, to bear afar[Pg 251]
The wealth collected, on the swelling tides,
To every land:—Where nature seems to mourn 180
Her rugged outcast rocks, there Enterprise
Leaps up; he gazes, like a god, around;
He sees on other plains rich harvests wave;
He marks far off the diamond blaze; he burns
To reach the glittering prize; he looks; he speaks;
The pines of Lebanon fall at his voice;
He rears the towering mast: o'er the long main
He wanders, and becomes, himself though poor,
The sovereign of the globe!
So Sidon rose; 190
And Tyre, yet prouder o'er the subject waves,—
When in his manlier might the Ammonian spread
Beyond Philistia to the Syrian sands,—
Crowned on her rocky citadel, beheld
The treasures of all lands poured at her feet.
Her daring prows the inland main disclosed;
Freedom and Glory, Eloquence, and Arts,
Follow their track, upspringing where they passed;
Till, lo! another Thebes, an Athens springs,
From the Ægean shores, and airs are heard, 200
As of no mortal melody, from isles
That strew the deep around! On to the Straits
Where tower the brazen pillars[170] to the clouds,
Her vessels ride. But what a shivering dread
Quelled their bold hopes, when on their watch by night
The mariners first saw the distant flames
Of Ætna, and its red portentous glare
Streaking the midnight waste! 'Tis not thy lamp,
Astarte, hung in the dun vault of night,
To guide the wanderers of the main! Aghast 210
They eye the fiery cope, and wait the dawn.[Pg 252]
Huge pitchy clouds upshoot, and bursting fires
Flash through the horrid volume as it mounts;
Voices are heard, and thunders muttering deep.
Haste, snatch the oars, fly o'er the glimmering surge—
Fly far—already louder thunders roll,
And more terrific flames arise! Oh, spare,
Dread Power! for sure some deity abides
Deep in the central earth, amidst the reek
Of sacrifice and blue sulphureous fume 220
Involved. Perhaps the living Moloch[171] there
Rules in his horrid empire, amid flames,
Thunders, and blackening volumes, that ascend
And wrap his burning throne!
So was their path,
To those who first the cheerless ocean roamed,
Darkened with dread and peril. Scylla here,
And fell Charybdis, on their whirling gulph
Sit, like the sisters of Despair, and howl,
As the devoted ship, dashed on the crags, 230
Goes down: and oft the neighbour shores are strewn
With bones of strangers sacrificed, whose bark
Has foundered nigh, where the red watch-tower glares
Through darkness. Hence mysterious dread, and tales
Of Polyphemus and his monstrous rout;
And warbling syrens on the fatal shores
Of soft Parthenope. Yet oft the sound
Of sea-conch through the night from some rude rock
Is heard, to warn the wandering passenger
Of fiends that lurk for blood! 240
These dangers past,
The sea puts on new beauties: Italy,
Beneath the blue soft sky beaming afar,[Pg 253]
Opens her azure bays; Liguria's gulph
Is past; the Bætic rocks, and ramparts high,
That close the world, appear. The dashing bark
Bursts through the fearful frith: Ah! all is now
One boundless billowy waste; the huge-heaved wave
Beneath the keel turns more intensely blue;
And vaster rolls the surge, that sweeps the shores 250
Of Cerne, and the green Hesperides,
And long-renowned Atlantis,[172] whether sunk
Now to the bottom of the "monstrous world;"
Or was it but a shadow of the mind,
Vapoury and baseless, like the distant clouds
That seem the promise of an unknown land
To the pale-eyed and wasted mariner,
Cold on the rocking mast. The pilot plies,
Now tossed upon Bayonna's mountain-surge,
High to the north his way; when, lo! the cliffs 260
Of Albion, o'er the sea-line rising calm
And white, and Marazion's woody mount
Lifting its dark romantic point between.
So did thy ships to Earth's wide bounds proceed,
O Tyre! and thou wert rich and beautiful
In that thy day of glory. Carthage rose,
Thy daughter, and the rival of thy fame,
Upon the sands of Lybia; princes were
Thy merchants; on thy golden throne thy state
Shone, like the orient sun. Dark Lebanon 270
Waved all his pines for thee; for thee the oaks
Of Bashan towered in strength: thy galleys cut,
Glittering, the sunny surge; thy mariners,
On ivory benches, furled th' embroidered sails,
That looms of Egypt wove, or to the oars,
That measuring dipped, their choral sea-songs sung;[Pg 254]
The multitude of isles did shout for thee,
And cast their emeralds at thy feet, and said—
Queen of the Waters, who is like to thee!
So wert thou glorious on the seas, and said'st, 280
I am a God, and there is none like me.
But the dread voice prophetic is gone forth:—
Howl, for the whirlwind of the desert comes!
Howl ye again, for Tyre, her multitude
Of sins and dark abominations cry
Against her, saith the Lord; in the mid seas
Her beauty shall be broken; I will bring
Her pride to ashes; she shall be no more,
The distant isles shall tremble at the sound
When thou dost fall; the princes of the sea 290
Shall from their thrones come down, and cast away
Their gorgeous robes; for thee they shall take up
A bitter lamentation, and shall say—
How art thou fallen, renowned city! thou,
Who wert enthroned glorious on the seas,
To rise no more!
So visible, O God,
Is thy dread hand in all the earth! Where Tyre
In gold and purple glittered o'er the scene,
Now the poor fisher dries his net, nor thinks 300
How great, how rich, how glorious, once she rose!
Meantime the furthest isle, cold and obscure,
Whose painted natives roamed their woody wilds,
From all the world cut off, that wondering marked
Her stately sails approach, now in her turn
Rises a star of glory in the West—
Albion, the wonder of the illumined world!
See there a Newton wing the highest heavens;
See there a Herschell's daring hand withdraw
The luminous pavilion, and the throne[Pg 255] 310
Of the bright sun reveal; there hear the voice
Of holy truth amid her cloistered fane,
As the clear anthem swells; see Taste adorn
Her palaces; and Painting's fervid touch,
That bids the canvas breathe; hear angel-strains,
When Handel, or melodious Purcell, pours
His sweetest harmonies; see Poesy
Open her vales romantic, and the scenes
Where Fancy, an enraptured votary, roves
At eve; and hark! 'twas Shakspeare's voice! he sits 320
Upon a high and charmed rock alone,
And, like the genius of the mountain, gives
The rapt song to the winds; whilst Pity weeps,
Or Terror shudders at the changeful tones,
As when his Ariel soothes the storm! Then pause,
For the wild billows answer—Lycidas
Is dead, young Lycidas, dead ere his prime,
Whelmed in the deep, beyond the Orcades,
Or where the "vision of the guarded Mount,
Belerus holds." 330
Nor skies, nor earth, confine
The march of England's glory; on she speeds—
The unknown barriers of the utmost deep
Her prow has burst, where the dread genius slept
For ages undisturbed, save when he walked
Amid the darkness of the storm! Her fleet
Even now along the East rides terrible,
Where early-rising commerce cheered the scene!
Heard ye the thunders of her vengeance roll,
As Nelson, through the battle's dark-red haze 340
Aloft upon the burning prow directs,
Where the dread hurricane, with sulphureous flash,
Shall burst unquenchable, while from the grave
Osiris ampler seems to rise? Where thou,[Pg 256]
O Tyre! didst awe the subject seas of yore,
Acre even now, and ancient Carmel, hears
The cry of conquest. 'Mid the fire and smoke
Of the war-shaken citadel, with eye
Of temper'd flame, yet resolute command,
His brave sword beaming, and his cheering voice 350
Heard 'mid the onset's cries, his dark-brown hair
Spread on his fearless forehead, and his hand
Pointing to Gallia's baffled chief, behold
The British Hero stand! Why beats my heart
With kindred animation? The warm tear
Of patriot triumph fills mine eye. I strike
A louder strain unconscious, while the harp
Swells to the bold involuntary song.

I.

Fly, Son of Terror, fly!
Back o'er the burning desert he is fled! 360
In heaps the gory dead
And livid in the trenches lie!
His dazzling files no more
Flash on the Syrian sands,
As when from Egypt's ravaged shore,
Aloft their gleamy falchions swinging,
Aloud their victor pæans singing,
Their onward way the Gallic legions took.
Despair, dismay, are on his altered look,
Yet hate indignant lowers; 370
Whilst high on Acre's granite towers
The shade of English Richard seems to stand;
And frowning far, in dusky rows,
A thousand archers draw their bows!
They join the triumph of the British band,[Pg 257]
And the rent watch-tower echoes to the cry,
Heard o'er the rolling surge—They fly, they fly!

II.

Now the hostile fires decline,
Now through the smoke's deep volumes shine;
Now above the bastions gray 380
The clouds of battle roll away;
Where, with calm, yet glowing mien,
Britain's victorious youth is seen!
He lifts his eye,
His country's ensigns wave through smoke on high,
Whilst the long-mingled shout is heard—They fly, they fly!

III.

Hoary Carmel, witness thou,
And lift in conscious pride thy brow;
As when upon thy cloudy plain
Baal's prophets cried in vain! 390
They gashed their flesh, and leaped, and cried,
From morn till lingering even-tide.
Then stern Elijah on his foes
Strong in the might of Heaven arose!—
On Carmel's top he stood,
And while the blackening clouds and rain
Came sounding from the Western main,
Raised his right hand that dropped with impious blood.
Ancient Kishon prouder swell,
On whose banks they bowed, they fell, 400
The mighty ones of yore, when, pale with dread,
Inglorious Sisera fled!
So let them perish, Holy Lord,
Who for oppression lift the sword;[Pg 258]
But let all those who, armed for freedom, fight,
"Be as the sun who goes forth in his might."

[160] Alluding to the harps found in the caverns of Thebes.

[161] Migdol was a fortress which guarded the pass of Egypt; Baal-zephon, a sea idol, generally considered the guardian of the coast.

[162] The Cushites inhabited the granite rocks stretching along the Red Sea.

[163] When the Egyptians found the ark, their expression was, "Let us rejoice, we have found the lost Osiris," or Noah.

[164] The deluge or devastating storm.

[165] The desert of Ariana, where the army of Cyrus perished.

[166] Ammon, according to Sir Isaac Newton, was the first artificer who built large ships, and passed the Straits.

[167] The entrance into the Red Sea was called the Gate of Affliction.

[168] Temple of Solomon.

[169] Alluding to the story of Patagonians bursting their cords when taken.

[170] Pillars of Hercules.

[171] Moloch, whose rites of blood are well known, was worshipped along the coast of Syria.

[172] The island described by Plato; by some supposed to be America.


BOOK THE THIRD.

My heart has sighed in secret, when I thought
That the dark tide of time might one day close,
England, o'er thee, as long since it has closed
On Egypt and on Tyre: that ages hence,
From the Pacific's billowy loneliness,
Whose tract thy daring search revealed, some isle
Might rise in green-haired beauty eminent,
And like a goddess, glittering from the deep,
Hereafter sway the sceptre of domain
From pole to pole; and such as now thou art, 10
Perhaps New-Holland be. For who shall say
What the Omnipotent Eternal One,
That made the world, hath purposed! Thoughts like these,
Though visionary, rise; and sometimes move
A moment's sadness, when I think of thee,
My country, of thy greatness, and thy name,
Among the nations; and thy character,—
Though some few spots be on thy flowing robe,—
Of loveliest beauty: I have never passed
Through thy green hamlets on a summer's morn, 20
Nor heard thy sweet bells ring, nor seen the youths
And smiling maidens of thy villages,
Gay in their Sunday tire, but I have said,
With passing tenderness—Live, happy land,
Where the poor peasant feels his shed, though small,[Pg 259]
An independence and a pride, that fill
His honest heart with joy—joy such as they
Who crowd the mart of men may never feel!
Such, England, is thy boast. When I have heard
The roar of ocean bursting 'round thy rocks, 30
Or seen a thousand thronging masts aspire,
Far as the eye could reach, from every port
Of every nation, streaming with their flags
O'er the still mirror of the conscious Thames,—
Yes, I have felt a proud emotion swell
That I was British-born; that I had lived
A witness of thy glory, my most loved
And honoured country; and a silent prayer
Would rise to Heaven, that Fame and Peace, and Love
And Liberty, might walk thy vales, and sing 40
Their holy hymns, while thy brave arm repelled
Hostility, even as thy guardian cliffs
Repel the dash of that dread element
Which calls me, lingering on the banks of Thames,
On to my destined voyage, by the shores
Of Asia, and the wreck of cities old,
Ere yet we burst into the wilder deep
With Gama; or the huge Atlantic waste
With bold Columbus stem; or view the bounds
Of field-ice, stretching to the southern pole, 50
With thee, benevolent, lamented Cook!
Tyre be no more! said the Almighty voice:
But thou too, Monarch of the world,[173] whose arm
Rent the proud bulwarks of the golden queen
Of cities, throned upon her subject seas,
Art thou too fall'n?
The whole earth is at rest:
"They break forth into singing:" Lebanon[Pg 260]
Waves all his hoary pines, and seems to say,
No feller now comes here; Hell from beneath 60
Is moved to meet thy coming; it stirs up
The dead for thee; the chief ones of the earth,
Tyre and the nations, they all speak and say—
Art thou become like us! Thy pomp brought down
E'en to the dust! The noise of viols ceased,
The worm spread under thee, the crawling worm
To cover thee! How art thou fall'n from heaven,
Son of the morning! In thy heart thou saidst,
I will ascend to Heaven; I will exalt
My throne above the stars of God! Die—die, 70
Blasphemer! As a carcase under foot,
Defiled and trodden, so be thou cast out!
And she, the great, the guilty Babel—she
Who smote the wasted cities, and the world
Made as a wilderness—she, in her turn,
Sinks to the gulf oblivious at the voice
Of Him who sits in judgment on her crimes!
Who, o'er her palaces and buried towers,
Shall bid the owl hoot, and the bittern scream;
And on her pensile groves and pleasant shades 80
Pour the deep waters of forgetfulness.
On that same night, when with a cry she fell,
(Like her own mighty idol dashed to earth,)
There was a strange eclipse, and long laments
Were heard, and muttering thunders o'er the towers
Of the high palace where his wassail loud
Belshazzar kept, mocking the God of heaven,
And flushed with impious mirth; for Bel had left
With sullen shriek his golden shrine, and sat,
With many a gloomy apparition girt, 90
Nisroch and Nebo chief, in the dim sphere
Of mooned Astoreth, whose orb now rolled[Pg 261]
In darkness:—They their earthly empire mourned;
Meantime the host of Cyrus through the night
Silent advanced more nigh; and at that hour,
In the torch-blazing hall of revelry,
The fingers of a shadowy hand distinct
Came forth, and unknown figures marked the wall,
Searing the eye-balls of the starting king:
Tyre is avenged; Babel is fall'n, is fall'n! 100
Bel and her gods are shattered!
Prince, to thee
Called by the voice of God to execute
His will on earth, and raised to Persia's throne,
Cyrus, all hearts pay homage. Touched with tints
Most clear by the historian's magic art,
Thy features wear a gentleness and grace
Unlike the stern cold aspect and the frown
Of the dark chiefs of yore, the gloomy clan
Of heroes, from humanity and love 110
Removed: To thee a brighter character
Belongs—high dignity, unbending truth—
Yet Nature; not that lordly apathy
Which confidence and human sympathy
Represses, but a soul that bids all hearts
Smiling approach. We almost burn in thought
To kiss the hand that loosed Panthea's chains,
And bless him with a parent's, husband's tear,
Who stood a guardian angel in distress
To the unfriended, and the beautiful, 120
Consigned a helpless slave. Thy portrait, touched
With tints of softest light, thus wins all hearts
To love thee; but severer policy,
Cyrus, pronounces otherwise: she hears
No stir of commerce on the sullen marge
Of waters that along thy empire's verge[Pg 262]
Beat cheerless; no proud moles arise; no ships,
Freighted with Indian wealth, glide o'er the main
From cape to cape. But on the desert sands
Hurtles thy numerous host, seizing, in thought 130
Rapacious, the rich fields of Hindostan,
As the poor savage fells the blooming tree
To gain its tempting fruit; but woe the while!
For in the wilderness the noise is lost
Of all thy archers;—they have ceased;—the wind
Blows o'er them, and the voice of judgment cries:
So perish they who grasp with avarice
Another's blessed portion, and disdain
That interchange of mutual good, that crowns
The slow, sure toil of commerce. 140
It was thine,
Immortal son of Macedon! to hang
In the high fane of maritime renown
The fairest trophies of thy fame, and shine,
Then only like a god, when thy great mind
Swayed in its master council the deep tide
Of things, predestining th' eventful roll
Of commerce, and uniting either world,
Europe and Asia, in thy vast design.
Twas when the victor, in his proud career, 150
O'er ravaged Hindostan, had now advanced
Beyond Hydaspes; on the flowery banks
Of Hyphasis, with banners thronged, his camp
Was spread. On high he bade the altars rise,
The awful records to succeeding years
Of his long march of glory, and to point
The spot where, like the thunder rolled away,
His army paused. Now shady eve came down;
The trumpet sounded to the setting sun,
That looked from his illumed pavilion, calm[Pg 263] 160
Upon the scene of arms, as if, all still,
And lovely as his parting light, the world
Beneath him spread; nor clangours, nor deep groans,
Were heard, nor victory's shouts, nor sighs, nor shrieks,
Were ever wafted from a bleeding land,
After the havoc of a conqueror's sword.
So calm the sun declined; when from the woods,
That shone to his last beam, a Brahmin old
Came forth. His streaming beard shone in the ray,
That slanted o'er his feeble frame; his front 170
Was furrowed. To the sun's last light he cast
A look of sorrow, then in silence bowed
Before the conqueror of the world. At once
All, as in death, was still. The victor chief
Trembled, he knew not why; the trumpet ceased
Its clangor, and the crimson streamer waved
No more in folds insulting to the Lord
Of the reposing world. The pallid front
Of the meek man seemed for a moment calm,
Yet dark and thronging thoughts appeared to swell 180
His beating heart. He paused—and then abrupt:
Victor, avaunt! he cried,
Hence! and the banners of thy pride
Bear to the deep! Behold on high
Yon range of mountains mingled with the sky!
It is the place
Where the great Father of the human race
Rested, when all the world and all its sounds
Ceased; and the ocean that surrounds
The earth, leaped from its dark abode 190
Beneath the mountains, and enormous flowed,
The green earth deluging! List, soldier, list!
And dread His might no mortal may resist.
Great Bramah rested, hushed in sleep,[Pg 264]
When Hayagraiva[174] came,
With mooned horns and eyes of flame,
And bore the holy Vedas[175] to the deep.
Far from the sun's rejoicing ray,
Beneath the huge abyss, the buried treasures lay.
Then foamed the billowy desert wide, 200
And all that breathed—they died,
Sunk in the rolling waters: such the crime
And violence of earth. But he above,
Great Vishnu, moved with pitying love,
Preserved the pious king, whose ark sublime
Floated, in safety borne:
For his stupendous horn,
Blazing like gold, and many a rood
Extended o'er the dismal flood,
The precious freight sustained, till on the crest 210
Of Himakeel,[176] yon mountain high,
That darkly mingles with the sky,
Where many a griffin roams, the hallowed ark found rest.
And Heaven decrees that here
Shall cease thy slaughtering spear:
Enough we bleed, enough we weep,
Hence, victor, to the deep!
Ev'n now along the tide
I see thy ships triumphant ride:
I see the world of trade emerge 220
From ocean's solitude! What fury fires
My breast! The flood, the flood retires,[177]
And owns its future sovereign! Urge
Thy destined way; what countless pennants stream!
(Or is it but the shadow of a dream?)[Pg 265]
Ev'n now old Indus hails
Thy daring prows in long array,
That o'er the lone seas gliding,
Around the sea-gods riding,
Speed to Euphrates' shores their destined way. 230
Fill high the bowl of mirth!
From west to east the earth
Proclaims thee Lord; shall the blue main
Confine thy reign?
But tremble, tyrant; hark in many a ring,
With language dread
Above thy head,
The dark Assoors[178] thy death-song sing.
What mortal blow
Hath laid the king of nations low? 240
No hand: his own despair.—
But shout, for the canvas shall swell to the air,
Thy ships explore
Unknown Persia's winding shore,
While the great dragon rolls his arms in vain.
And see, uprising from the level main,
A new and glorious city springs;—
Hither speed thy woven wings,
That glance along the azure tide;
Asia and Europe own thy might;— 250
The willing seas of either world unite:
Thy name shall consecrate the sands,
And glittering to the sky the mart of nations stands.
He spoke, and rushed into the thickest wood.
With flashing eyes the impatient monarch cried—
Yes, by the Lybian Ammon and the gods
Of Greece, thou bid'st me on, the self-same track[Pg 266]
My spirit pointed; and, let death betide,
My name shall live in glory!
At his word 260
The pines descend; the thronging masts aspire;
The novel sails swell beauteous o'er the curves
Of Indus; to the Moderators' song[179]
The oars keep time, while bold Nearchus guides
Aloft the gallies. On the foremost prow
The monarch from his golden goblet pours
A full libation to the gods, and calls
By name the mighty rivers, through whose course
He seeks the sea. To Lybian Ammon loud
The songs ascend; the trumpets bray; aloft 270
The streamers fly, whilst on the evening wave
Majestic to the main the fleet descends.

[173] Nebuchadnezzar, the destroyer of Tyre.

[174] Hayagraiva, the evil spirit of the ocean.

[175] The sacred writings of the Hindus.

[176] Caucasus.

[177] Alluding to the astonishment of Alexander's soldiers, when they first witnessed the effects of the tide.

[178] Assoors, the evil genii of India.

[179] Moderators were people stationed on the poop, to excite with songs the maritime ardour, while the oars kept time.


BOOK THE FOURTH.

Stand on the gleaming Pharos,[180] and aloud
Shout, Commerce, to the kingdoms of the earth;
Shout, for thy golden portals are set wide,
And all thy streamers o'er the surge, aloft,
In pomp triumphant wave. The weary way
That pale Nearchus passed, from creek to creek
Advancing slow, no longer bounds the track
Of the adventurous mariner, who steers
Steady, with eye intent upon the stars,[Pg 267]
To Elam's echoing port. Meantime, more high 10
Aspiring, o'er the Western main her towers
Th' imperial city lifts, the central mart
Of nations, and beneath the calm clear sky,
At distance from the palmy marge, displays
Her clustering columns, whitening to the morn.
Damascus' fleece, Golconda's gems, are there.
Murmurs the haven with one ceaseless hum;
The hurrying camel's bell, the driver's song,
Along the sands resound. Tyre, art thou fall'n?
A prouder city crowns the inland sea, 20
Raised by his hand who smote thee; as if thus
His mighty mind were swayed to recompense
The evil of his march through cities stormed,
And regions wet with blood! and still had flowed
The tide of commerce through the destined track,
Traced by his mind sagacious, who surveyed
The world he conquered with a sage's eye,
As with a soldier's spirit; but a scene
More awful opens: ancient world, adieu!
Adieu, cloud-piercing pillars, erst its bounds; 30
And thou, whose aged head once seemed to prop
The heavens, huge Atlas, sinking fast, adieu!
What though the seas with wilder fury rave,
Through their deserted realm; though the dread Cape,[181]
Sole-frowning o'er the war of waves below,
That bar the seaman's search, horrid in air
Appear with giant amplitude; his head
Shrouded in clouds, the tempest at his feet,
And standing thus terrific, seem to say,
Incensed—Approach who dare! What though the fears 40
Of superstition people the vexed space
With spirits unblessed, that lamentations make[Pg 268]
To the sad surge beyond—yet Enterprise,
Not now a darkling Cyclop on the sands
Striding, but led by Science, and advanced
To a more awful height, on the wide scene
Looks down commanding.
Does a shuddering thought
Of danger start, as the tumultuous sea
Tosses below! Calm Science, with a smile, 50
Displays the wondrous index, that still points,
With nice vibration tremulous, to the Pole.
And such, she whispers, is the just man's hope
In this tempestuous scene of human things;
Even as the constant needle to the North
Still points; so Piety and meek-eyed Faith
Direct, though trembling oft, their constant gaze
Heavenward, as to their lasting home, nor fear
The night, fast closing on their earthly way.
And guided by this index, thou shall pass 60
The world of seas secure. Far from all land,
Where not a sea-bird wanders; where nor star,
Nor moon appears, nor the bright noonday sun,
Safe in the wildering storm, as when the breeze
Of summer gently blows; through day, through night,
Where sink the well-known stars, and others rise
Slow from the South, the victor bark shall ride.
Henry! thy ardent mind first pierced the gloom
Of dark disastrous ignorance, that sat
Upon the Southern wave, like the deep cloud 70
That lowered upon the woody skirts, and veiled
From mortal search, with umbrage ominous,
Madeira's unknown isle. But look! the morn
Is kindled on the shadowy offing; streaks
Of clear cold light on Sagres' battlements
Are cast, where Henry watches, listening still[Pg 269]
To the unwearied surge; and turning still
His anxious eyes to the horizon's bounds.
A sail appears; it swells, it shines: more high
Seen through the dusk it looms; and now the hull 80
Is black upon the surge, whilst she rolls on
Aloft—the weather-beaten ship—and now
Streams by the watch-tower!
Zarco,[182] from the deep
What tidings?
The loud storm of night prevailed,
And swept our vessel from Bojador's rocks
Far out to sea; a sylvan isle[183] received
Our sails; so willed the Almighty—He who speaks,
And all the waves are still! 90
Hail, Henry cried,
The omen: we have burst the sole barrier,
(Prosper our wishes, Father of the world!)
We speed to Asia.
Soon upon the deep
The brave ship speeds again. Bojador's rocks
Arise at distance, frowning o'er the surf,
That boils for many a league without. Its course
The ship holds on; till lo! the beauteous isle,
That shielded late the sufferers from the storm, 100
Springs o'er the wave again. Here they refresh
Their wasted strength, and lift their vows to Heaven,
But Heaven denies their further search; for ah!
What fearful apparition, palled in clouds,
For ever sits upon the Western wave,
Like night, and in its strange portentous gloom
Wrapping the lonely waters, seems the bounds
Of Nature? Still it sits, day after day,[Pg 270]
The same mysterious vision. Holy saints!
Is it the dread abyss where all things cease? 110
Or haply hid from mortal search, thine isle,
Cipango, and that unapproached seat
Of peace, where rest the Christians whom the hate
Of Moorish pride pursued? Whate'er it be,
Zarco, thy holy courage bids thee on
To burst the gloom, though dragons guard the shore,[184]
Or beings more than mortal pace the sands.
The favouring gales invite; the bowsprit bears
Right onward to the fearful shade; more black
The cloudy spectre towers; already fear 120
Shrinks at the view aghast and breathless. Hark!
'Twas more than the deep murmur of the surge
That struck the ear; whilst through the lurid gloom
Gigantic phantoms seem to lift in air
Their misty arms; yet, yet—bear boldly on—
The mist dissolves;—seen through the parting haze,
Romantic rocks, like the depictured clouds,
Shine out; beneath a blooming wilderness
Of varied wood is spread, that scents the air;
Where fruits of "golden rind," thick interspersed 130
And pendent, through the mantling umbrage gleam
Inviting. Cypress here, and stateliest pine,
Spire o'er the nether shades, as emulous
Of sole distinction where all nature smiles.
Some trees, in sunny glades alone their head
And graceful stem uplifting, mark below
The turf with shadow; whilst in rich festoons
The flowery lianes braid their boughs; meantime[Pg 271]
Choirs of innumerous birds of liveliest song
And brightest plumage, flitting through the shades, 140
With nimble glance are seen; they, unalarmed,
Now near in airy circles sing, then speed
Their random flight back to their sheltering bowers,
Whose silence, broken only by their song,
From the foundation of this busy world,
Perhaps had never echoed to the voice,
Or heard the steps, of Man. What rapture fired
The strangers' bosoms, as from glade to glade
They passed, admiring all, and gazing still
With new delight! 'Tis solitude around; 150
Deep solitude, that on the gloom of woods
Primæval fearful hangs: a green recess
Now opens in the wilderness; gay flowers
Of unknown name purple the yielding sward;
The ring-dove murmurs o'er their head, like one
Attesting tenderest joy; but mark the trees,
Where, slanting through the gloom, the sunshine rests!
Beneath, a moss-grown monument appears,
O'er which the green banana gently waves
Its long leaf; and an aged cypress near 160
Leans, as if listening to the streamlet's sound,
That gushes from the adverse bank; but pause—
Approach with reverence! Maker of the world,
There is a Christian's cross! and on the stone
A name, yet legible amid its moss,—
Anna!
In that remote, sequestered spot,
Shut as it seemed from all the world, and lost
In boundless seas, to trace a name, to mark
The emblems of their holy faith, from all 170
Drew tears; while every voice faintly pronounced,
Anna! But thou, loved harp! whose strings have rung[Pg 272]
To louder tones, oh! let my hand, awhile,
The wires more softly touch, whilst I rehearse
Her name and fate, who in this desert deep,
Far from the world, from friends, and kindred, found
Her long and last abode; there where no eye
Might shed a tear on her remains; no heart
Sigh in remembrance of her fate:—
She left 180
The Severn's side, and fled with him she loved
O'er the wide main; for he had told her tales
Of happiness in distant lands, where care
Comes not; and pointing to the golden clouds
That shone above the waves, when evening came,
Whispered—Oh, are there not sweet scenes of peace,
Far from the murmurs of this cloudy mart,—
Where gold alone bears sway,—scenes of delight,
Where love may lay his head upon the lap
Of innocence, and smile at all the toil 190
Of the low-thoughted throng, that place in wealth
Their only bliss! Yes, there are scenes like these.
Leave the vain chidings of the world behind,
Country, and hollow friends, and fly with me
Where love and peace in distant vales invite.
What wouldst thou here! Oh, shall thy beauteous look
Of maiden innocence, thy smile of youth, thine eyes
Of tenderness and soft subdued desire,
Thy form, thy limbs—oh, madness!—be the prey
Of a decrepit spoiler, and for gold?— 200
Perish his treasure with him. Haste with me;
We shall find out some sylvan nook, and then,
If thou shouldst sometimes think upon these hills,
When they are distant far, and drop a tear,
Yes—I will kiss it from thy cheek, and clasp
Thy angel beauties closer to my breast;[Pg 273]
And whilst the winds blow o'er us, and the sun
Sinks beautifully down, and thy soft cheek
Reclines on mine, I will infold thee thus,
And proudly cry, My friend—my love—my wife! 210
So tempted he, and soon her heart approved,
Nay wooed, the blissful dream; and oft at eve,
When the moon shone upon the wandering stream,
She paced the castle's battlements, that threw
Beneath their solemn shadow, and, resigned
To fancy and to tears, thought it most sweet
To wander o'er the world with him she loved.
Nor was his birth ignoble, for he shone
'Mid England's gallant youth in Edward's reign:
With countenance erect, and honest eye 220
Commanding (yet suffused in tenderness
At times), and smiles that like the lightning played
On his brown cheek,—so gently stern he stood,
Accomplished, generous, gentle, brave, sincere,—
Robert a Machin. But the sullen pride
Of haughty D'Arfet scorned all other claim
To his high heritage, save what the pomp
Of amplest wealth and loftier lineage gave.
Reckless of human tenderness, that seeks
One loved, one honoured object, wealth alone 230
He worshipped; and for this he could consign
His only child, his aged hope, to loathed
Embraces, and a life of tears! Nor here
His hard ambition ended; for he sought,
By secret whispers of conspiracies,
His sovereign to abuse, bidding him lift
His arm avenging, and upon a youth
Of promise close the dark forgotten gates
Of living sepulture, and in the gloom
Inhume the slowly-wasting victim.[Pg 274] 240
So
He purposed, but in vain; the ardent youth
Rescued her—her whom more than life he loved,
Ev'n when the horrid day of sacrifice
Drew nigh. He pointed to the distant bark,
And while he kissed a stealing tear that fell
On her pale cheek, as trusting she reclined
Her head upon his breast, with ardour cried—
Be mine, be only mine! the hour invites;
Be mine, be only mine! So won, she cast 250
A look of last affection on the towers
Where she had passed her infant days, that now
Shone to the setting sun. I follow thee,
Her faint voice said; and lo! where in the air
A sail hangs tremulous, and soon her feet
Ascend the vessel's side: The vessel glides
Down the smooth current, as the twilight fades,
Till soon the woods of Severn, and the spot
Where D'Arfet's solitary turrets rose,
Is lost; a tear starts to her eye, she thinks 260
Of him whose gray head to the earth shall bend,
When he speaks nothing—but be all, like death,
Forgotten. Gently blows the placid breeze,
And oh! that now some fairy pinnace light
Might flit across the wave (by no seen power
Directed, save when Love upon the prow
Gathered or spread with tender hand the sail),
That now some fairy pinnace, o'er the surge
Silent, as in a summer's dream, might waft
The passengers upon the conscious flood 270
To regions bright of undisturbed joy!
But hark!
The wind is in the shrouds;—the cordage sings
With fitful violence;—the blast now swells,[Pg 275]
Now sinks. Dread gloom invests the further wave,
Whose foaming toss alone is seen, beneath
The veering bowsprit.
Oh, retire to rest,
Maiden, whose tender heart would beat, whose cheek
Turn pale to see another thus exposed! 280
Hark! the deep thunder louder peals—Oh, save!—
The high mast crashes; but the faithful arm
Of love is o'er thee, and thy anxious eye,
Soon as the gray of morning peeps, shall view
Green Erin's hills aspiring!
The sad morn
Comes forth; but terror on the sunless wave
Still, like a sea-fiend, sits, and darkly smiles
Beneath the flash that through the struggling clouds
Bursts frequent, half revealing his scathed front, 290
Above the rocking of the waste that rolls
Boundless around.
No word through the long day
She spoke;—another slowly came;—no word
The beauteous drooping mourner spoke. The sun
Twelve times had sunk beneath the sullen surge,
And cheerless rose again:—Ah, where are now
Thy havens, France! But yet—resign not yet—
Ye lost seafarers—oh, resign not yet
All hope—the storm is passed; the drenched sail 300
Shines in the passing beam! Look up, and say—
Heaven, thou hast heard our prayers!
And lo! scarce seen,
A distant dusky spot appears;—they reach
An unknown shore, and green and flowery vales,
And azure hills, and silver-gushing streams,
Shine forth; a Paradise, which Heaven alone,
Who saw the silent anguish of despair,[Pg 276]
Could raise in the waste wilderness of waves.
They gain the haven; through untrodden scenes, 310
Perhaps untrodden by the foot of man
Since first the earth arose, they wind. The voice
Of Nature hails them here with music, sweet,
As waving woods retired, or falling streams,
Can make; most soothing to the weary heart,
Doubly to those who, struggling with their fate,
And wearied long with watchings and with grief,
Seek but a place of safety. All things here
Whisper repose and peace; the very birds
That 'mid the golden fruitage glance their plumes, 320
The songsters of the lonely valley, sing—
Welcome from scenes of sorrow, live with us.
The wild wood opens, and a shady glen
Appears, embowered with mantling laurels high,
That sloping shade the flowery valley's side;
A lucid stream, with gentle murmur, strays
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves,
Till gaining, with soft lapse, the nether plain,
It glances light along its yellow bed;—
The shaggy inmates of the forest lick 330
The feet of their new guests, and gazing stand.
A beauteous tree upshoots amid the glade
Its trembling top; and there upon the bank
They rest them, while each heart o'erflows with joy.
Now evening, breathing richer odours sweet,
Came down: a softer sound the circling seas,
The ancient woods resounded, while the dove,
Her murmurs interposing, tenderness
Awaked, yet more endearing, in the hearts
Of those who, severed wide from human kind, 340
Woman and man, by vows sincere betrothed,
Heard but the voice of Nature. The still moon[Pg 277]
Arose—they saw it not—cheek was to cheek
Inclined, and unawares a stealing tear
Witnessed how blissful was that hour, that seemed
Not of the hours that time could count. A kiss
Stole on the listening silence; ne'er till now
Here heard; they trembled, ev'n as if the Power
That made the world, that planted the first pair
In Paradise, amid the garden walked:— 350
This since the fairest garden that the world
Has witnessed, by the fabling sons of Greece
Hesperian named, who feigned the watchful guard
Of the scaled Dragon, and the Golden Fruit.
Such was this sylvan Paradise; and here
The loveliest pair, from a hard world remote,
Upon each other's neck reclined; their breath
Alone was heard, when the dove ceased on high
Her plaint; and tenderly their faithful arms
Infolded each the other. 360
Thou, dim cloud,
That from the search of men these beauteous vales
Hast closed, oh, doubly veil them! But alas,
How short the dream of human transport! Here,
In vain they built the leafy bower of love,
Or culled the sweetest flowers and fairest fruit.
The hours unheeded stole! but ah, not long—
Again the hollow tempest of the night
Sounds through the leaves; the inmost woods resound;
Slow comes the dawn, but neither ship nor sail 370
Along the rocking of the windy waste
Is seen: the dash of the dark-heaving wave
Alone is heard. Start from your bed of bliss,
Poor victims! never more shall ye behold
Your native vales again; and thou, sweet child!
Who, listening to the voice of love, hast left[Pg 278]
Thy friends, thy country,—oh, may the wan hue
Of pining memory, the sunk cheek, the eye
Where tenderness yet dwells, atone (if love
Atonement need, by cruelty and wrong 380
Beset), atone ev'n now thy rash resolves!
Ah, fruitless hope! Day after day, thy bloom
Fades, and the tender lustre of thy eye
Is dimmed: thy form, amid creation, seems
The only drooping thing.
Thy look was soft,
And yet most animated, and thy step
Light as the roe's upon the mountains. Now,
Thou sittest hopeless, pale, beneath the tree
That fanned its joyous leaves above thy head, 390
Where love had decked the blooming bower, and strewn
The sweets of summer: Death is on thy cheek,
And thy chill hand the pressure scarce returns
Of him, who, agonised and hopeless, hangs
With tears and trembling o'er thee. Spare the sight,—
She faints—she dies!—
He laid her in the earth,
Himself scarce living, and upon her tomb
Beneath the beauteous tree where they reclined,
Placed the last tribute of his earthly love. 400

INSCRIPTION FOR THE GRAVE OF ANNA D'ARFET.

O'er my poor Anna's lowly grave
No dirge shall sound, no knell shall ring;
But angels, as the high pines wave,
Their half-heard "Miserere" sing.
No flowers of transient bloom at eve
The maidens on the turf shall strew;[Pg 279]
Nor sigh, as the sad spot they leave,
Sweets to the sweet! a long adieu!
But in this wilderness profound,
O'er her the dove shall build her nest; 410
And ocean swell with softer sound
A requiem to her dreams of rest!
Ah! when shall I as quiet be,
When not a friend, or human eye,
Shall mark beneath the mossy tree
The spot where we forgotten lie!
To kiss her name on the cold stone,
Is all that now on earth I crave;
For in this world I am alone—
Oh, lay me with her in the grave! 420
Robert a Machin, 1344. Miserere nobis, Domine.
He placed the rude inscription on her stone,
Which he with faltering hands had graved, and soon
Himself beside it sunk—yet ere he died,
Faintly he spoke: If ever ye shall hear,
Companions of my few and evil days,
Again the convent's vesper bells, oh! think
Of me; and if in after-times the search
Of men should reach this far removed spot,
Let sad remembrance raise an humble shrine,
And virgin choirs chaunt duly o'er our grave: 430
Peace, peace! His arm upon the mournful stone
He dropped; his eyes, ere yet in death they closed,
Turned to the name, till he could see no more
Anna. His pale survivors, earth to earth,[Pg 280]
Weeping consigned his poor remains, and placed
Beneath the sod where all he loved was laid.
Then shaping a rude vessel from the woods,
They sought their country o'er the waves, and left
Those scenes once more to deepest solitude.
The beauteous ponciana hung its head 440
O'er the gray stone; but never human eye
Had mark'd the spot, or gazed upon the grave
Of the unfortunate, but for the voice
Of Enterprise, that spoke, from Sagre's towers,
Through ocean's perils, storms, and unknown wastes—
Speed we to Asia!
Here, Discovery, pause!—
Then from the tomb of him who first was cast
Upon this Heaven-appointed isle, thy gaze
Uplift, and far beyond the Cape of Storms 450
Pursue De Gama's tract. Mark the rich shores
Of Madagascar, till the purple East
Shines in luxuriant beauty wide disclosed.
But cease thy song, presumptuous Muse!—a bard,
In tones whose patriot sound shall never die,
Has struck his deep shell, and the glorious theme
Recorded.
Say, what lofty meed awaits
The triumph of his victor conch, that swells
Its music on the yellow Tagus' side, 460
As when Arion, with his glittering harp
And golden hair, scarce sullied from the main,
Bids all the high rocks listen to his voice
Again! Alas, I see an aged form,
An old man worn by penury, his hair
Blown white upon his haggard cheek, his hand
Emaciated, yet the strings with thrilling touch
Soliciting; but the vain crowds pass by:[Pg 281]
His very countrymen, whose fame his song
Has raised to heaven, in stately apathy 470
Wrapped up, and nursed in pride's fastidious lap,
Regard not. As he plays, a sable man
Looks up, but fears to speak, and when the song
Has ceased, kisses his master's feeble hand.
Is that cold wasted hand, that haggard look,
Thine, Camoens? Oh, shame upon the world!
And is there none, none to sustain thee found,
But he, himself unfriended, who so far
Has followed, severed from his native isles,
To scenes of gorgeous cities, o'er the sea, 480
Thee and thy broken fortunes!
God of worlds!
Oh, whilst I hail the triumph and high boast
Of social life, let me not wrong the sense
Of kindness, planted in the human heart
By man's great Maker, therefore I record
Antonio's faithful, gentle, generous love
To his heartbroken master, that might teach,
High as it bears itself, a polished world
More charity. 490
Discovery, turn thine eyes!
Columbus' toiling ship is on the deep,
Stemming the mid Atlantic.
Waste and wild
The view! On the same sunshine o'er the waves
The murmuring mariners, with languid eye,
Ev'n till the heart is sick, gaze day by day!
At midnight in the wind sad voices sound!
When the slow morning o'er the offing dawns,
Heartless they view the same drear weltering waste 500
Of seas: and when the sun again goes down[Pg 282]
Silent, hope dies within them, and they think
Of parting friendship's last despairing look!
See too, dread prodigy, the needle veers
Her trembling point—will Heaven forsake them too!
But lift thy sunk eye, and thy bloodless look,
Despondence! Milder airs at morning breathe:—
Below the slowly-parting prow the sea
Is dark with weeds; and birds of land are seen
To wing the desert tract, as hasting on 510
To the green valleys of their distant home.
Yet morn succeeds to morn—and nought around
Is seen, but dark weeds floating many a league,
The sun's sole orb, and the pale hollowness
Of heaven's high arch streaked with the early clouds.
Watchman, what from the giddy mast?
A shade
Appears on the horizon's hazy line.
Land! land! aloud is echoed; but the spot
Fades as the shouting crew delighted gaze— 520
It fades, and there is nothing—nothing now
But the blue sky, the clouds, and surging seas!
As one who, in the desert, faint with thirst,
Upon the trackless and forsaken sands
Sinks dying; him the burning haze deceives,
As mocking his last torments, while it seems,
To his distempered vision, like th' expanse
Of lucid waters cool: so falsely smiles
Th' illusive land upon the water's edge,
To the long-straining eye showing what seems 530
Its headlands and its distant trending shores;—
But all is false, and like the pensive dream
Of poor imagination, 'mid the waves
Of troubled life, decked with unreal hues,
And ending soon in emptiness and tears.[Pg 283]
'Tis midnight, and the thoughtful chief, retired
From the vexed crowd, in his still cabin hears
The surge that rolls below; he lifts his eyes,
And casts a silent anxious look without.
It is a light—great God—it is a light! 540
It moves upon the shore!—Land—there is land!
He spoke in secret, and a tear of joy
Stole down his cheek, when on his knees he fell.
Thou, who hast been his guardian in wastes
Of the hoar deep, accept his tears, his prayers;
While thus he fondly hopes the purer light
Of thy great truths on the benighted world
Shall beam!
The lingering night is past;—the sun
Shines out, while now the red-cross streamers wave 550
High up the gently-surging bay. From all
Shouts, songs, and rapturous thanksgiving loud,
Burst forth: Another world, entranced they cry,
Another living world!—Awe-struck and mute
The gazing natives stand, and drop their spears,
In homage to the gods!
So from the deep
They hail emerging; sight more awful far
Than ever yet the wondering voyager
Greeted;—the prospect of a new-found world, 560
Now from the night of dark uncertainty
At once revealed in living light!
How beats
The heart! What thronging thoughts awake! Whence sprung
The roaming nations? From that ancient race
That peopled Asia—Noah's sons? How, then,
Passed they the long and lone expanse between
Of stormy ocean, from the elder earth[Pg 284]
Cut off, and lost, for unknown ages, lost
In the vast deep? But whilst the awful view 570
Stands in thy sight revealed, Spirit, awake
To prouder energies! Even now, in thought,
I see thee opening bold Magellan's tract![185]
The straits are passed! Thou, as the seas expand,
Pausest a moment, when beneath thine eye
Blue, vast, and rocking, through its boundless rule,
The long Pacific stretches. Nor here cease
Thy search, but with De Quiros[186] to the South
Still urge thy way, if yet some continent
Stretch to its dusky pole, with nations spread, 580
Forests, and hills, and streams.
So be thy search
With ampler views rewarded, till, at length,
Lo, the round world is compassed! Then return
Back to the bosom of the tranquil Thames,
And hail Britannia's victor ship,[187] that now
From many a storm restored, winds its slow way
Silently up the current, and so finds,
Like to a time-worn pilgrim of the world,
Rest, in that haven where all tempests cease. 590

[180] The Pharos was not erected by Alexander, but Alexandria is here supposed to be finished.

[181] Cape Bojador.

[182] John Gongalez Zarco was employed by Prince Henry to conduct the enterprise of discovery along the Western coast of Africa.

[183] Porto Santo.

[184] I have called the three islands of Madeiras the Hesperides, who, in ancient mythology, are the three daughters of Atlas; as I consider the orange-trees and mysterious shade, with the rocks discerned through it on a nearer approach, to be the best solution of the fable of the golden fruit, the dragon, and the three daughters of Atlas.

[185] Magellan's ship first circumnavigated the globe, passing through the straits, called by his name, into the South Sea, and proceeding West to the East Indies. He himself, like our revered Cooke, perished in the enterprise.

[186] De Quiros first discovered the New Hebrides, in the South Sea; afterwards explored by Cooke, who bears testimony to the accuracy of De Quiros. These islands were supposed part of a great continent stretching to the South pole, called Terra Australis incognita.

[187] Drake's ship, in which he sailed round the world; she was laid up at Deptford—hence Ben Johnson, in Every Man in his Humour, "O Coz, it cannot be altered, go not about it; Drake's old ship at Deptford may sooner circle the world again."[Pg 285]


BOOK THE FIFTH.

Such are thy views, Discovery! The great world
Rolls to thine eye revealed; to thee the Deep
Submits its awful empire; Industry
Awakes, and Commerce to the echoing marts
From east to west unwearied pours her wealth.
Man walks sublimer; and Humanity,
Matured by social intercourse, more high,
More animated, lifts her sovereign mien,
And waves her golden sceptre. Yet the heart
Asks trembling, is no evil found! Oh, turn, 10
Meek Charity, and drop a human tear
For the sad fate of Afric's injured sons,
And hide, for ever hide, the sight of chains,
Anguish, and bondage! Yes, the heart of man
Is sick, and Charity turns pale, to think
How soon, for pure religion's holy beam,
Dark crimes, that sullied the sweet day, pursued,
Like vultures, the Discoverer's ocean tract,
Screaming for blood, to fields of rich Peru,
Or ravaged Mexico, while Gold more Gold! 20
The caverned mountains echoed, Gold more Gold!
Then see the fell-eyed, prowling buccaneer,
Grim as a libbard! He his jealous look
Turns to the dagger at his belt, his hand
By instinct grasps a bloody scymitar,
And ghastly is his smile, as o'er the woods
He sees the smoke of burning villages
Ascend, and thinks ev'n now he counts his spoil.
See thousands destined to the lurid mine,
Never to see the sun again; all names[Pg 286] 30
Of husband, sire, all tender charities
Of love, deep buried with them in that grave,
Where life is as a thing long passed; and hope
No more its sickly ray, to cheer the gloom,
Extends.
Thou, too, dread Ocean, toss thine arms,
Exulting, for the treasures and the gems
That thy dark oozy realm emblaze; and call
The pale procession of the dead, from caves
Where late their bodies weltered, to attend 40
Thy kingly sceptre, and proclaim thy might!
Lord of the Hurricane! bid all thy winds
Swell, and destruction ride upon the surge,
Where, after the red lightning flash that shows
The labouring ship, all is at once deep night
And long suspense, till the slow dawn of day
Gleams on the scattered corses of the dead,
That strew the sounding shore!
Then think of him,
Ye who rejoice with those you love, at eve, 50
When winds of winter shake the window-frame,
And more endear your fire, oh, think of him,
Who, saved alone from the destroying storm,
Is cast on some deserted rock; who sees
Sun after sun descend, and hopeless hears;
At morn the long surge of the troubled main,
That beats without his wretched cave; meantime
He fears to wake the echoes with his voice,
So dread the solitude!
Let Greenland's snows 60
Then shine, and mark the melancholy train
There left to perish, whilst the cold pale day
Declines along the further ice, that binds
The ship, and leaves in night the sinking scene.[Pg 287]
Sad winter closes on the deep; the smoke
Of frost, that late amusive to the eye
Rose o'er the coast, is passed, and all is now
One torpid blank; the freezing particles
Blown blistering, and the white bear seeks her cave.
Ill-fated outcasts, when the morn again 70
Shall streak with feeble beam the frozen waste,
Your air-bleached and unburied carcases
Shall press the ground, and, as the stars fade off,
Your stony eyes glare 'mid the desert snows!
These triumphs boast, fell Demon of the Deep!
Though never more the universal shriek
Of all that perish thou shalt hear, as when
The deep foundations of the guilty earth
Were shaken at the voice of God, and man
Ceased in his habitations; yet the sea 80
Thy might tempestuous still, and joyless rule,
Confesses. Ah! what bloodless shadows throng
Ev'n now, slow rising from their oozy beds,
From Mete,[188] and those gates of burial
That guard the Erythræan; from the vast
Unfathomed caverns of the Western main
Or stormy Orcades; whilst the sad shell
Of poor Arion,[189] to the hollow blast
Slow seems to pour its melancholy tones,
And faintly vibrate, as the dead pass by. 90
I see the chiefs, who fell in distant lands,
The prey of murderous savages, when yells,
And shouts, and conch, resounded through the woods.
Magellan and De Solis seem to lead[Pg 288]
The mournful train. Shade of Perouse! oh, say
Where, in the tract of unknown seas, thy bones
Th' insulting surge has swept?
But who is he,
Whose look, though pale and bloody, wears the trace
Of pure philanthropy? The pitying sigh 100
Forbid not; he was dear to Britons, dear
To every beating heart, far as the world
Extends; and my faint faltering touch ev'n now
Dies on the strings, when I pronounce thy name,
Oh, lost, lamented, generous, hapless Cook!
But cease the vain complaint; turn from the shores,
Wet with his blood, Remembrance: cast thine eyes
Upon the long seas, and the wider world,
Displayed from his research. Smile, glowing Health!
For now no more the wasted seaman sinks, 110
With haggard eye and feeble frame diseased;
No more with tortured longings for the sight
Of fields and hillocks green, madly he calls
On Nature, when before his swimming eye
The liquid long expanse of cheerless seas
Seems all one flowery plain. Then frantic dreams
Arise; his eye's distemper'd flash is seen
From the sunk socket, as a demon there
Sat mocking, till he plunges in the flood,
And the dark wave goes o'er him. 120
Nor wilt thou,
O Science! fail to deck the cold morai[190]
Of him who wider o'er earth's hemisphere
Thy views extended. On, from deep to deep,
Thou shalt retrace the windings of his track;
From the high North to where the field-ice binds
The still Antarctic. Thence, from isle to isle,[Pg 289]
Thou shalt pursue his progress; and explore
New-Holland's eastern shores,[191] where now the sons
Of distant Britain, from her lap cast out, 130
Water the ground with tears of penitence,
Perhaps, hereafter, in their destined time,
Themselves to rise pre-eminent. Now speed,
By Asia's eastern bounds, still to the North,
Where the vast continents of either world
Approach: Beyond, 'tis silent boundless ice,
Impenetrable barrier, where all thought
Is lost; where never yet the eagle flew,
Nor roamed so far the white bear through the waste.
But thou, dread Power! whose voice from chaos called140
The earth, who bad'st the Lord of light go forth,
Ev'n as a giant, and the sounding seas
Roll at thy fiat: may the dark deep clouds,
That thy pavilion shroud from mortal sight,
So pass away, as now the mystery,
Obscure through rolling ages, is disclosed;
How man, from one great Father sprung, his race
Spread to that severed continent! Ev'n so,
Father, in thy good time, shall all things stand
Revealed to knowledge. 150
As the mind revolves
The change of mighty empires, and the fate
Of him whom Thou hast made, back through the dusk
Of ages Contemplation turns her view:
We mark, as from its infancy, the world
Peopled again, from that mysterious shrine
That rested on the top of Ararat,
Highest of Asian mountains; spreading on,
The Cushites from their mountain caves descend;
Then before God the sons of Ammon stood[Pg 290] 160
In their gigantic might, and first the seas
Vanquished: But still from clime to clime the groan
Of sacrifice, and Superstition's cry,
Was heard; but when the Dayspring rose of heaven,
Greece's hoar forests echoed, The great Pan
Is dead! From Egypt, and the rugged shores
Of Syrian Tyre, the gods of darkness fly;
Bel is cast down, and Nebo, horrid king,
Bows in imperial Babylon: But, ah!
Too soon, the Star of Bethlehem, whose ray 170
The host of heaven hailed jubilant, and sang,
Glory to God on high, and on earth peace,
With long eclipse is veiled.
Red Papacy
Usurped the meek dominion of the Lord
Of love and charity: vast as a fiend
She rose, Heaven's light was darkened with her frown,
And the earth murmured back her hymns of blood,
As the meek martyr at the burning stake
Stood, his last look uplifted to his God! 180
But she is now cast down, her empire reft.
They who in darkness walked, and in the shade
Of death, have seen a new and holy light,
As in th' umbrageous forest, through whose boughs,
Mossy and damp, for many a league, the morn
With languid beam scarce pierces, here and there
Touching some solitary trunk, the rest
Dark waving in the noxious atmosphere:
Through the thick-matted leaves the serpent winds
His way, to find a spot of casual sun; 190
The gaunt hyæna through the thicket glides
At eve: then, too, the couched tiger's eye
Flames in the dusk, and oft the gnashing jaws
Of the fell crocodile are heard. At length,[Pg 291]
By man's superior energy and toil,
The sunless brakes are cleared; the joyous morn
Shines through the opening leaves; rich culture smiles
Around; and howling to their distant wilds
The savage inmates of the wood retire.
Such is the scene of human life, till want 200
Bids man his strength put forth; then slowly spreads
The cultured stream of mild humanity,
And gentler virtues, and more noble aims
Employ the active mind, till beauty beams
Around, and Nature wears her richest robe,
Adorned with lovelier graces. Then the charms
Of woman, fairest of the works of Heaven,
Whom the cold savage, in his sullen pride,
Scorned as unworthy of his equal love,
With more attractive influence wins the heart 210
Of her protector. Then the names of sire,
Of home, of brother, and of children, grow
More sacred, more endearing; whilst the eye,
Lifted beyond this earthly scene, beholds
A Father who looks down from heaven on all!
O Britain, my loved country! dost thou rise
Most high among the nations! Do thy fleets
Ride o'er the surge of ocean, that subdued
Rolls in long sweep beneath them! Dost thou wear
Thy garb of gentler morals gracefully! 220
Is widest science thine, and the fair train
Of lovelier arts! While commerce throngs thy ports
With her ten thousand streamers, is the tract
Of the undeviating ploughshare white
That rips the reeking furrow, followed soon
By plenty, bidding all the scene rejoice,
Even like a cultured garden! Do the streams
That steal along thy peaceful vales, reflect
Temples, and Attic domes, and village towers![Pg 292]
Is beauty thine, fairest of earthly things, 230
Woman; and doth she gain that liberal love
And homage, which the meekness of her voice,
The rapture of her smile, commanding most
When she seems weakest, must demand from him,
Her master; whose stern strength at once submits
In manly, but endearing, confidence,
Unlike his selfish tyranny who sits
The sultan of his harem!
Oh, then, think
How great the blessing, and how high thy rank 240
Amid the civilised and social world!
But hast thou no deep failings, that may turn
Thy thoughts within thyself! Ask, for the sun
That shines in heaven hath seen it, hath thy power
Ne'er scattered sorrow over distant lands!
Ask of the East, have never thy proud sails
Borne plunder from dismembered provinces,
Leaving the groans of miserable men
Behind! And free thyself, and lifting high
The charter of thy freedom, bought with blood, 250
Hast thou not stood, in patient apathy,
A witness of the tortures and the chains
That Afric's injured sons have known! Stand up;
Yes, thou hast visited the caves, and cheered
The gloomy haunts of sorrow; thou hast shed
A beam of comfort and of righteousness
On isles remote; hast bid the bread-fruit shade
Th' Hesperian regions, and has softened much
With bland amelioration, and with charms
Of social sweetness, the hard lot of man. 260
But weighed in truth's firm balance, ask, if all
Be even. Do not crimes of ranker growth
Batten amid thy cities, whose loud din,
From flashing and contending cars, ascends,[Pg 293]
Till morn! Enchanting, as if aught so sweet
Ne'er faded, do thy daughters wear the weeds
Of calm domestic peace and wedded love;
Or turn, with beautiful disdain, to dash
Gay pleasure's poisoned chalice from their lips
Untasted! Hath not sullen atheism, 270
Weaving gay flowers of poesy, so sought
To hide the darkness of his withered brow
With faded and fantastic gallantry
Of roses, thus to win the thoughtless smile
Of youthful ignorance! Hast thou with awe
Looked up to Him whose power is in the clouds,
Who bids the storm rush, and it sweeps to earth
The nations that offend, and they are gone,
Like Tyre and Babylon! Well weigh thyself:
Then shalt thou rise undaunted in the might 280
Of thy Protector, and the gathered hate
Of hostile bands shall be but as the sand
Blown on the everlasting pyramid.
Hasten, O Love and Charity! your work,
Ev'n now whilst it is day; far as the world
Extends may your divinest influence
Be felt, and more than felt, to teach mankind
They all are brothers, and to drown the cries
Of superstition, anarchy, or blood!
Not yet the hour is come: on Ganges' banks 290
Still superstition hails the flame of death,
Behold, gay dressed, as in her bridal tire,
The self-devoted beauteous victim slow
Ascend the pile where her dead husband lies:
She kisses his cold cheeks, inclines her breast
On his, and lights herself the fatal pile
That shall consume them both!
On Egypt's shore,
Where Science rose, now Sloth and Ignorance[Pg 294]
Sleep like the huge Behemoth in the sun! 300
The turbaned Moor still stains with strangers' blood
The inmost sands of Afric. But all these
The light shall visit, and that vaster tract
From Fuego to the furthest Labrador,
Where roam the outcast Esquimaux, shall hear
The voice of social fellowship; the chief
Whose hatchet flashed amid the forest gloom,
Who to his infants bore the bleeding scalp
Of his fall'n foe, shall weep unwonted tears!
Come, Faith; come, Hope; come, meek-eyed Charity! 310
Complete the lovely prospect: every land
Shall lift up one hosannah; every tongue
Proclaim thee Father, infinite, and wise,
And good. The shores of palmy Senegal
(Sad Afric's injured sons no more enslaved)
Shall answer Hallelujah, for the Lord
Of truth and mercy reigns;—reigns King of kings;—
Hosannah—King of kings—and Lord of lords!
So may His kingdom come, when all the earth,
Uniting thus as in one hymn of praise, 320
Shall wait the end of all things. This great globe,
His awful plan accomplished, then shall sink
In flames, whilst through the clouds, that wrap the place
Where it had rolled, and the sun shone, the voice
Of the Archangel, and the trump of God,
Amid heaven's darkness rolling fast away,
Shall sound!
Then shall the sea give up its dead;—
But man's immortal mind, all trials past
That shook his feverish frame, amidst the scenes 330
Of peril and distemper, shall ascend
Exulting to its destined seat of rest,
And "justify His ways" from whom it sprung.

[188] Mete, in the Arabic, according to Bruce, signifies "the place of burial." The entrance of the Red Sea was so called, from the dangers of the navigation. See Bruce.

[189] Alluding to the pathetic poem of the Shipwreck, whose author, Falconer, described himself under the name of Arion, and who was afterwards lost in the "Aurora."

[190] "Morai" is a grave.

[191] Botany Bay.[Pg 295]


THE MISSIONARY.

Amor patriæ ratione potentior omni.[Pg 296]


PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.[192]

It is not necessary to relate the causes which induced me to publish this poem without a name.

The favour with which it has been received may make me less diffident in avowing it; and, as a second edition has been generally called for, I have endeavoured to make it, in every respect, less unworthy of the public eye.

I have availed myself of every sensible objection, the most material of which was the circumstance, that the Indian maid, described in the first book, had not a part assigned to her of sufficient interest in the subsequent events of the poem, and that the character of the Missionary was not sufficiently professional.

The single circumstance that a Spanish commander, with his army in South America, was destroyed by the Indians, in consequence of the treachery of his page, who was a native, and that only a priest was saved, is all that has been taken from history. The rest of this poem, the personages, father, daughter, wife, et cet. (with the exception of the names of Indian warriors) is imaginary. The time is two months. The first four books include as many days and nights. The rest of the time is occupied by the Spaniards' march, the assembly of warriors, et cet.

The place in which the scene is laid, was selected because South America has of late years received additional interest, and because the ground was at once new, poetical, and picturesque.

From old-fashioned feelings, perhaps, I have admitted some aërial agents, or what is called machinery. It is true that the spirits cannot be said to accelerate or retard the events; but surely they may be allowed to show a sympathy with the fate of those, among whom poetical fancy has given them a prescriptive ideal existence. They may be further excused, as relieving the narrative, and adding to the imagery.

The causes which induced me to publish this poem without a name, induced me also to attempt it in a versification to which I have been least accustomed, which, to my ear, is most uncongenial, and which is, in itself, most difficult. I mention this, in order that, if some passages should be found less harmonious than they might have been, the candour of the reader may pardon them.

SceneSouth America.

Characters.—Valdivia, commander of the Spanish armies—Lautaro, his page, a native of Chili—Anselmo, the missionary—Indiana, his adopted daughter, wife of Lautaro—Zarinel, the wandering minstrel.

Indians.—Attacapac, father of Lautaro—Olola, his daughter, sister of Lautaro—Caupolican, chief of the Indians—Indian warriors.

The chief event of the poem turns upon the conduct of Lautaro; but as the Missionary acts so distinguished a part, and as the whole of the moral depends upon him, it was thought better to retain the title which was originally given to the poem.

[192] Dedicated to the Marquis of Lansdowne.[Pg 297]


THE MISSIONARY.

INTRODUCTION.

When o'er the Atlantic wild, rocked by the blast,
Sad Lusitania's exiled sovereign passed,
Reft of her pomp, from her paternal throne
Cast forth, and wandering to a clime unknown,
To seek a refuge on that distant shore,
That once her country's legions dyed with gore;—
Sudden, methought, high towering o'er the flood,
Hesperian world! thy mighty genius stood;
Where spread, from cape to cape, from bay to bay,
Serenely blue, the vast Pacific lay; 10
And the huge Cordilleras to the skies
With all their burning summits seemed to rise.
Then the stern spirit spoke, and to his voice
The waves and woods replied:—Mountains, rejoice!
Thou solitary sea, whose billows sweep
The margin of my forests, dark and deep,
Rejoice! the hour is come: the mortal blow,
That smote the golden shrines of Mexico,
In Europe is avenged; and thou, proud Spain,
Now hostile hosts insult thy own domain;[Pg 298] 20
Now Fate, vindictive, rolls, with refluent flood,
Back on thy shores the tide of human blood,
Think of my murdered millions! of the cries
That once I heard from all my kingdoms rise;
Of Famine's feeble plaint, of Slavery's tear;—
Think, too, if Valour, Freedom, Fame, be dear,
How my Antarctic sons, undaunted, stood,
Exacting groan for groan, and blood for blood;
And shouted, (may the sounds be hailed by thee!)
Tyrants, the virtuous and the brave are free! 30

CANTO FIRST.

ARGUMENT.

One Day and Part of Night.

Valley in the Andes—Old Indian warrior—Loss of his son and daughter.

Beneath aërial cliffs, and glittering snows,
The rush-roof of an aged warrior rose,
Chief of the mountain tribes: high overhead,
The Andes, wild and desolate, were spread,
Where cold Sierras shot their icy spires,
And Chillan[193] trailed its smoke and smouldering fires.
A glen beneath, a lonely spot of rest,
Hung, scarce discovered, like an eagle's nest.
Summer was in its prime;—the parrot-flocks
Darkened the passing sunshine on the rocks;[Pg 299] 10
The chrysomel[194] and purple butterfly,[195]
Amid the clear blue light, are wandering by;
The humming-bird, along the myrtle bowers,
With twinkling wing, is spinning o'er the flowers,
The woodpecker is heard with busy bill,
The mock-bird sings—and all beside is still,
And look! the cataract that bursts so high,
As not to mar the deep tranquillity,
The tumult of its dashing fall suspends,
And, stealing drop by drop, in mist descends; 20
Through whose illumined spray and sprinkling dews,
Shine to the adverse sun the broken rainbow hues.
Chequering, with partial shade, the beams of noon,
And arching the gray rock with wild festoon,
Here its gay net-work, and fantastic twine,
The purple cogul[196] threads from pine to pine,
And oft, as the fresh airs of morning breathe,
Dips its long tendrils in the stream beneath.
There, through the trunks with moss and lichens white,
The sunshine darts its interrupted light, 30
And, 'mid the cedar's darksome boughs, illumes,
With instant touch, the Lori's scarlet plumes.
So smiles the scene;—but can its smiles impart
Aught to console yon mourning warrior's heart?
He heeds not now, when beautifully bright,
The humming-bird is circling in his sight;
Nor ev'n, above his head, when air is still,
Hears the green woodpecker's resounding bill;[Pg 300]
But gazing on the rocks and mountains wild,
Rock after rock, in glittering masses piled 40
To the volcano's cone, that shoots so high
Gray smoke whose column stains the cloudless sky,
He cries, Oh! if thy spirit yet be fled
To the pale kingdoms of the shadowy dead,—
In yonder tract of purest light above,
Dear long-lost object of a father's love,
Dost thou abide; or like a shadow come,
Circling the scenes of thy remembered home,
And passing with the breeze, or, in the beam
Of evening, light the desert mountain stream! 50
Or at deep midnight are thine accents heard,
In the sad notes of that melodious bird,[197]
Which, as we listen with mysterious dread,
Brings tidings from our friends and fathers dead?
Perhaps, beyond those summits, far away,
Thine eyes yet view the living light of day;
Sad, in the stranger's land, thou may'st sustain
A weary life of servitude and pain,
With wasted eye gaze on the orient beam,
And think of these white rocks and torrent stream, 60
Never to hear the summer cocoa wave,
Or weep upon thy father's distant grave.
Ye, who have waked, and listened with a tear,
When cries confused, and clangours rolled more near;[Pg 301]
With murmured prayer, when Mercy stood aghast,
As War's black trump pealed its terrific blast,
And o'er the withered earth the armed giant passed!
Ye, who his track with terror have pursued,
When some delightful land, all blood-imbrued,
He swept; where silent is the champaign wide, 70
That echoed to the pipe of yester-tide,
Save, when far off, the moonlight hills prolong
The last deep echoes of his parting gong;
Nor aught is seen, in the deserted spot
Where trailed the smoke of many a peaceful cot,
Save livid corses that unburied lie,
And conflagrations, reeking to the sky;—
Come listen, whilst the causes I relate
That bowed the warrior to the storms of fate,
And left these smiling scenes forlorn and desolate. 80
In other days, when, in his manly pride,
Two children for a father's fondness vied,—
Oft they essayed, in mimic strife, to wield
His lance, or laughing peeped behind his shield;
Oft in the sun, or the magnolia's shade,
Lightsome of heart as gay of look they played,
Brother and sister. She, along the dew,
Blithe as the squirrel of the forest flew;
Blue rushes wreathed her head; her dark-brown hair
Fell, gently lifted, on her bosom bare; 90
Her necklace shone, of sparkling insects made,
That flit, like specks of fire, from sun to shade.
Light was her form; a clasp of silver braced
The azure-dyed ichella[198] round her waist;
Her ancles rung with shells, as unconfined
She danced, and sung wild carols to the wind.[Pg 302]
With snow-white teeth, and laughter in her eye,
So beautiful in youth she bounded by.
Yet kindness sat upon her aspect bland,—
The tame alpaca[199] stood and licked her hand; 100
She brought him gathered moss, and loved to deck
With flowery twine his tall and stately neck,
Whilst he with silent gratitude replies,
And bends to her caress his large blue eyes.
These children danced together in the shade,
Or stretched their hands to see the rainbow fade;
Or sat and mocked, with imitative glee,
The paroquet, that laughed from tree to tree;
Or through the forest's wildest solitude,
From glen to glen, the marmozet pursued; 110
And thought the light of parting day too short,
That called them, lingering, from their daily sport.
In that fair season of awakening life,
When dawning youth and childhood are at strife;
When on the verge of thought gay boyhood stands
Tiptoe, with glistening eye and outspread hands;
With airy look, and form and footsteps light,
And glossy locks, and features berry-bright,
And eye like the young eaglet's, to the ray
Of noon unblenching as he sails away; 120
A brede of sea-shells on his bosom strung,
A small stone-hatchet o'er his shoulder slung,
With slender lance, and feathers blue and red,
That, like the heron's[200] crest, waved on his head,—
Buoyant with hope, and airiness, and joy,
Lautaro was a graceful Indian boy:
Taught by his sire, ev'n now he drew the bow,
Or tracked the jagguar on the morning snow;[Pg 303]
Startled the condor, on the craggy height;
Then silent sat, and marked its upward flight, 130
Lessening in ether to a speck of white.
But when the impassioned chieftain spoke of war,
Smote his broad breast, or pointed to a scar,—
Spoke of the strangers of the distant main,
And the proud banners of insulting Spain,—
Of the barbed horse and iron horseman spoke,
And his red gods, that, wrapped in rolling smoke,
Roared from the guns;—the boy, with still-drawn breath,
Hung on the wondrous tale, as mute as death;
Then raised his animated eyes, and cried, 140
Oh, let me perish by my father's side!
Once, when the moon, o'er Chillan's cloudless height,
Poured, far and wide, its softest, mildest light,
A predatory band of mailed men
Burst on the stillness of the sheltered glen:
They shouted, Death! and shook their sabres high,
That shone terrific to the moonlight sky;
Where'er they rode, the valley and the hill
Echoed the shrieks of death, till all again was still.
The warrior, ere he sank in slumber deep, 150
Had kissed his son, soft-breathing in his sleep,
Where on a Llama's skin he lay, and said,
Placing his hand, with tears, upon his head,
Aërial nymphs![201] that in the moonlight stray,
O gentle spirits! here awhile delay;
Bless, as ye pass unseen, my sleeping boy,
Till blithe he wakes to daylight and to joy.
If the great spirit will, in future days,
O'er the fall'n foe his hatchet he shall raise,[Pg 304]
And, 'mid a grateful nation's high applause, 160
Avenge his violated country's cause!
Now, nearer points of spears, and many a cone
Of moving helmets, in the moonlight shone,
As, clanking through the pass, the band of blood
Sprang, like hyænas, from the secret wood.
They rush, they seize their unresisting prey,
Ruthless they tear the shrieking boy away;
But, not till gashed by many a sabre wound,
The father sank, expiring, on the ground.
He waked from the dark trance to life and pain, 170
But never saw his darling child again.
Seven snows had fallen, and seven green summers passed,
Since here he heard that son's loved accents last.
Still his beloved daughter soothed his cares,
Whilst time began to strew with white his hairs.
Oft as his painted feathers he unbound,
Or gazed upon his hatchet on the ground,
Musing with deep despair, nor strove to speak,
Light she approached, and climbed to reach his cheek,
Held with both hands his forehead, then her head 180
Drew smiling back, and kissed the tear he shed.
But late, to grief and hopeless love a prey,
She left his side, and wandered far away.
Now in this still and shelter'd glen, that smiled
Beneath the crags of precipices wild,
Wrapt in a stern yet sorrowful repose,
The warrior half forgot his country's woes;
Forgot how many, impotent to save,
Shed their best blood upon a father's grave;
How many, torn from wife and children, pine 190
In the dark caverns of the hopeless mine,
Never to see again the blessed morn;—
Slaves in the lovely land where they were born;[Pg 305]
How many at sad sunset, with a tear,
The distant roar of sullen cannons hear,
Whilst evening seems, as dies the sound, to throw
A deadlier stillness on a nation's woe!
So the dark warrior, day succeeding day,
Wore in distempered thought the noons away;
And still, when weary evening came, he sighed, 200
My son, my son! or, with emotion, cried,
When I descend to the cold grave alone,
Who shall be there to mourn for me?—Not one![202]
The crimson orb of day now westering flung
His beams, and o'er the vast Pacific hung;
When from afar a shrilling sound was heard,
And, hurrying o'er the dews, a scout appeared.
The watchful warrior knew the piercing tones,
The signal-call of war, from human bones,—
What tidings? with impatient look, he cried. 210
Tidings of war, the hurrying scout replied;
Then the sharp pipe[203] with shriller summons blew,
And held the blood-red arrow high in view.[204]
CHIEF.
Where speed the foes?
INDIAN.
Along the southern main,
Have passed the vultures of accursed Spain.[Pg 306]
CHIEF.
Ruin pursue them on the distant flood,
And be their deadly portion—blood for blood!
INDIAN.
When, round and red, the moon shall next arise,
The chiefs attend the midnight sacrifice 220
In Encol's wood, where the great wizard dwells,
Who wakes the dead man by his thrilling spells;
Thee,[205] Ulmen of the Mountains, they command
To lift the hatchet for thy native land;
Whilst in dread circle, round the sere-wood smoke,
The mighty gods of vengeance they invoke;
And call the spirits of their fathers slain,
To nerve their lifted arm, and curse devoted Spain.
So spoke the scout of war;—and o'er the dew,
Onward along the craggy valley, flew. 230
Then the stern warrior sang his song of death—
And blew his conch, that all the glens beneath
Echoed, and rushing from the hollow wood,
Soon at his side three hundred warriors stood.
WARRIOR.
Children, who for his country dares to die?
Three hundred brandished spears shone to the sky:
We perish, or we leave our country free;
Father, our blood for Chili and for thee!
The mountain-chief essayed his club to wield,
And shook the dust indignant from the shield. 240
Then spoke:[Pg 307]
O Thou! that with thy lingering light
Dost warm the world, till all is hushed in night;
I look upon thy parting beams, O sun!
And say, ev'n thus my course is almost run.
When thou dost hide thy head, as in the grave,
And sink to glorious rest beneath the wave,
Dost thou, majestic in repose, retire,
Below the deep, to unknown worlds of fire!
Yet though thou sinkest, awful, in the main, 250
The shadowy moon comes forth, and all the train
Of stars, that shine with soft and silent light,
Making so beautiful the brow of night.
Thus, when I sleep within the narrow bed,
The light of after-fame around shall spread;
The sons of distant Ocean, when they see
The grass-green heap beneath the mountain tree,
And hear the leafy boughs at evening wave,
Shall pause and say, There sleep in dust the brave!
All earthly hopes my lonely heart have fled! 260
Stern Guecubu,[206] angel of the dead,
Who laughest when the brave in pangs expire;
Whose dwelling is beneath the central fire
Of yonder burning mountain; who hast passed
O'er my poor dwelling, and with one fell blast
Scattered my summer-leaves that clustered round,
And swept my fairest blossoms to the ground;
Angel of dire despair, oh! come not nigh,
Nor wave thy red wings o'er me where I lie;
But thou, O mild and gentle spirit! stand, 270
Angel[207] of hope and peace, at my right hand,
(When blood-drops stagnate on my brow) and guide
My pathless voyage o'er the unknown tide,[Pg 308]
To scenes of endless joy, to that fair isle,
Where bowers of bliss, and soft savannahs smile:
Where my forefathers oft the fight renew,
And Spain's black visionary steeds pursue;
Where, ceased the struggles of all human pain,
I may behold thee—thee, my son, again!
He spoke, and whilst at evening's glimmering close 280
The distant mist, like the gray ocean, rose,
With patriot sorrows swelling at his breast,
He sank upon a jagguar's hide to rest.
'Twas night: remote on Caracalla's bay,
Valdivia's army, hushed in slumber, lay.
Around the limits of the silent camp,
Alone was heard the steed's patroling tramp
From line to line, whilst the fixed sentinel
Proclaimed the watch of midnight—All is well!
Valdivia dreamed of millions yet untold, 290
Villrica's gems, and El Dorado's gold!
What different feelings, by the scene impressed,
Rose in sad tumult o'er Lautaro's breast!
On the broad ocean, where the moonlight slept,
Thoughtful he turned his waking eyes, and wept,
And whilst the thronging forms of memory start,
Thus holds communion with his lonely heart:
Land of my fathers, still I tread your shore,
And mourn the shade of hours that are no more;
Whilst night-airs, like remembered voices, sweep, 300
And murmur from the undulating deep.
Was it thy voice, my father! Thou art dead,
The green rush waves on thy forsaken bed.
Was it thy voice, my sister! Gentle maid,
Thou too, perhaps, in the dark cave art laid;
Perhaps, even now, thy spirit sees me stand
A homeless stranger in my native land;[Pg 309]
Perhaps, even now, along the moonlight sea,
It bends from the blue cloud, remembering me!
Land of my fathers! yet, oh yet forgive, 310
That with thy deadly enemies I live:
The tenderest ties (it boots not to relate)
Have bound me to their service, and their fate;
Yet, whether on Peru's war-wasted plain,
Or visiting these sacred shores again,
Whate'er the struggles of this heart may be,
Land of my fathers, it shall beat for thee!

[193] A volcano in Chili.

[194] The chrysomela is a beautiful insect of which the young women of Chili make necklaces.

[195] The parrot butterfly, peculiar to this part of America, the largest and most brilliant of its kind.—Papilio psittacus.

[196] A most beautiful climbing plant. The vine is of the size of packthread: it climbs on the trees without attaching itself to them: when it reaches the top, it descends perpendicularly; and as it continues to grow, it extends itself from tree to tree, until it offers to the eye a confused tissue, exhibiting some resemblance to the rigging of a ship.—Molina.

[197] I chanced once to lodge in a village named Upec by the Frenchmen: there, in the night, I heard those birds, not singing, but making a lamentable noise. I saw the barbarians most attentive, and, being ignorant of the whole matter, reproved their folly. But when I smiled a little upon a Frenchman standing by me, a certain old man, severely enough, restrained me with these words: "Hold your peace, lest you hinder us who attentively hearken to the happy tidings of our ancestors; for as often as we hear these birds, so often also are we cheered, and our strength receiveth increase."—Callender's Voyage.

[198] The ichella is a short cloak, of a greenish-blue colour, of wool, fastened before with a silver buckle.—Molina.

[199] The alpaca is perhaps the most beautiful, gentle, and interesting of living animals: one was to be seen in London in 1812.

[200] Ardea cristata.

[201] Every warrior of Chili, according to Molina, has his attendant "nymph" or fairy—the belief in which is nearly similar to the popular and poetical idea of those beings in Europe. Meulen is the benevolent spirit.

[202] I have taken this line from the conclusion of the celebrated speech of the old North American warrior, Logan, "Who is there to mourn for Logan?—not one!"

[203] Their pipes of war are made of the bones of their enemies, who have been sacrificed.

[204] The way in which the warriors are summoned, is something like the "running the cross" in Scotland, which is so beautifully described by Walter Scott. The scouts on this occasion bear an arrow bound with red fillets.

[205] Ulmen is the same as Casique, or chief.

[206] Guecubu is the evil spirit of the Chilians.

[207] They have their evil and good spirits.


CANTO SECOND.

ARGUMENT.

The Second Day.

Night—Spirit of the Andes—Valdivia—Lautaro—Missionary—The Hermitage.

The night was still and clear, when, o'er the snows,
Andes! thy melancholy Spirit rose,—
A shadow stern and sad: he stood alone,
Upon the topmost mountain's burning cone;
And whilst his eyes shone dim, through surging smoke,
Thus to the spirits of the fire he spoke:—
Ye, who tread the hidden deeps,
Where the silent earthquake sleeps;
Ye, who track the sulphurous tide,
Or on hissing vapours ride,— 10
Spirits, come![Pg 310]
From worlds of subterraneous night;
From fiery realms of lurid light;
From the ore's unfathomed bed;
From the lava's whirlpools red,—
Spirits, come!
On Chili's foes rush with vindictive sway,
And sweep them from the light of living day!
Heard ye not the ravenous brood,
That flap their wings, and scream for blood? 20
On Peru's devoted shore
Their murderous beaks are red with gore;
Yet here, impatient for new prey,
The insatiate vultures track their way.
Let them perish! they, whose bands
Swept remote and peaceful lands!
Let them perish!—on their head,
Descend the darkness of the dead!
Spirits, now your caves forsake:
Hark! ten thousand warriors wake!— 30
Spirits, their high cause defend!—
From your caves ascend! ascend!
As thus the Genius of the Andes spoke,
The trembling mountain heaved with darker smoke;
Lightnings, and phantom-forms, by fits appeared;
His mighty voice far off Osorno heard;
The caverned deeps shook through their vast profound,
And Chimborazzo's height rolled back the sound.
With lifted arm, and towering stature high,
And aspect frowning to the middle sky 40
(Its misty form dilated in the wind),
The phantom stood,—till, less and less defined,[Pg 311]
Into thin air it faded from the sight,
Lost in the ambient haze of slow-returning light.
Its feathery-seeming crown, its giant spear,
Its limbs of huge proportion, disappear;
And the bare mountains to the dawn disclose
The same long line of solitary snows.
The morning shines, the military train
Streams far and wide along the tented plain; 50
And plaited cuirasses, and helms of steel,
Throw back the sunbeams, as the horsemen wheel:
Thus, with arms glancing to the eastern light,
Pass, in review, proud steeds and cohorts bright;
For all the host, by break of morrow's gray,
Wind back their march to Penco's northern bay,
Valdivia, fearful lest confederate foes,
Ambushed and dark, his progress might oppose,
Marshals to-day the whole collected force,
File and artillery, cuirassier and horse: 60
Himself yet lingers ere he joins the train,
That moves, in ordered march, along the plain,
While troops, and Indian slaves beneath his eye,
The labours of the rising city ply:[208]
Wide glows the general toil; the mole extends,
The watch-tower o'er the desert surge ascends;
And battlements, and rising ramparts, shine
Above the ocean's blue and level line.
The sun ascended to meridian height,
And all the northern bastions shone in light; 70
With hoarse acclaim, the gong and trumpet rung,
The Moorish slaves aloft their cymbals swung,
When the proud victor, in triumphant state,
Rode forth, in arms, through the portcullis' gate.[Pg 312]
With neck high-arching as he smote the ground,
And restless pawing to the trumpet's sound,—
With mantling mane, o'er his broad shoulders spread,
And nostrils blowing, and dilated red,—
The coal-black steed, in rich caparison
Far trailing to the ground, went proudly on. 80
Proudly he tramped, as conscious of his charge,
And turned around his eye-balls, bright and large,
And shook the frothy boss, as in disdain;
And tossed the flakes, indignant, off his mane;
And, with high-swelling veins, exulting pressed
Proudly against the barb his heaving breast.
The fate of empires glowing in his thought,
Thus armed, the tented field Valdivia sought.
On the left side his poised shield he bore,
With quaint devices richly blazoned o'er; 90
Above the plumes, upon his helmet's cone,
Castile's imperial crest illustrious shone;
Blue in the wind the escutcheoned mantle flowed,
O'er the chained mail, which tinkled as he rode.
The barred vizor raised, you might discern
His clime-changed countenance,[209] though pale, yet stern,
And resolute as death,—whilst in his eye
Sat proud Assurance, Fame, and Victory.
Lautaro, now in manhood's rising pride,
Rode, with a lance, attendant at his side, 100
In Spanish mantle gracefully arrayed;
Upon his brow a tuft of feathers played:
His glossy locks, with dark and mantling grace,
Shaded the noonday sunbeams on his face.
Though passed in tears the dayspring of his youth,
Valdivia loved his gratitude and truth:[Pg 313]
He, in Valdivia, owned a nobler friend;
Kind to protect, and mighty to defend.
So, on he rode; upon his youthful mien
A mild but sad intelligence was seen; 110
Courage was on his open brow, yet care
Seemed like a wandering shade to linger there;
And though his eye shone, as the eagle's, bright,
It beamed with humid, melancholy light
When now Valdivia saw the embattled line,
Helmets, and swords, and shields, and matchlocks, shine;
Now the long phalanx still and steady stand,
Fixed every eye, and motionless each hand;
Then slowly clustering, into columns wheel,
Each with the red-cross banners of Castile; 120
While trumps, and drums, and cymbals, to his ear
Made music such as soldiers love to hear;
While horsemen checked their steeds, or, bending low
With levelled lances, o'er the saddle-bow,
Rode gallantly at tilt; and thunders broke,
Instant involving van and rear in smoke,
Till winds the obscuring volume rolled away,
And the red file, stretched out in long array,
More radiant moved beneath the beams of day;
While ensigns, arms, and crosses, glittered bright,— 130
Philip![210] he cried, seest thou the glorious sight?
And dost thou deem the tribes of this poor land
Can men, and arms, and steeds, like these, withstand?
Forgive!—the youth replied, and checked a tear,—
The land where my forefathers sleep is dear!—
My native land!—this spot of blessed earth,
The scene where I, and all I love, had birth!
What gratitude fidelity can give
Is yours, my lord!—you shielded—bade me live,[Pg 314]
When, in the circuit of the world so wide, 140
I had but one, one only friend beside.
I bowed resigned to fate; I kissed the hand,
Red with the best blood of my father's land![211]
But mighty as thou art, Valdivia, know,
Though Cortes' desolating march laid low
The shrines of rich, voluptuous Mexico;
With carcases, though proud Pizarro strew
The Sun's imperial temple in Peru,
Yet the rude dwellers of this land are brave,
And the last spot they lose will be their grave! 150
A moment's crimson crossed Valdivia's cheek—
Then o'er the plain he spurred, nor deigned to speak,
Waving the youth, at distance, to retire;
None saw the eye that shot terrific fire.
As their commander sternly rode along,
Troop after troop, halted the martial throng;
And all the pennoned trumps a louder blast
Blew, as the Southern World's great victor passed.
Lautaro turned, scarce heeding, from the view,
And from the noise of trumps and drums withdrew; 160
And now, while troubled thoughts his bosom swell,
Seeks the gray Missionary's humble cell.
Fronting the ocean, but beyond the ken
Of public view, and sounds of murmuring men,
Of unhewn roots composed, and gnarled wood,
A small and rustic oratory stood;
Upon its roof of reeds appeared a cross,
The porch within was lined with mantling moss;
A crucifix and hour-glass, on each side—
One to admonish seemed, and one to guide; 170
This, to impress how soon life's race is o'er;
And that, to lift our hopes where time shall be no more.[Pg 315]
O'er the rude porch, with wild and gadding stray,
The clustering copu weaved its trellis gay;
Two mossy pines, high bending, interwove
Their aged and fantastic arms above.
In front, amid the gay surrounding flowers,
A dial counted the departing hours,
On which the sweetest light of summer shone,—
A rude and brief inscription marked the stone: 180
To count, with passing shade, the hours,
I placed the dial 'mid the flowers;
That, one by one, came forth, and died,
Blooming, and withering, round its side.
Mortal, let the sight impart
Its pensive moral to thy heart!
Just heard to trickle through a covert near,
And soothing, with perpetual lapse, the ear,
A fount, like rain-drops, filtered through the stone,
And, bright as amber, on the shallows shone. 190
Intent his fairy pastime to pursue,
And, gem-like, hovering o'er the violets blue,
The humming-bird, here, its unceasing song
Heedlessly murmured, all the summer long;
And when the winter came, retired to rest,
And from the myrtles hung its trembling nest.
No sounds of a conflicting world were near;
The noise of ocean faintly met the ear,
That seemed, as sunk to rest the noontide blast,
But dying sounds of passions that were past; 200
Or closing anthems, when, far off, expire
The lessening echoes of the distant choir.
Here, every human sorrow hushed to rest,
His pale hands meekly crossed upon his breast,
Anselmo sat: the sun, with westering ray,
Just touched his temples, and his locks of gray.[Pg 316]
There was no worldly feeling in his eye;
The world to him was "as a thing gone by."
Now, all his features lit, he raised his look,
Then bent it thoughtful, and unclasped the book; 210
And whilst the hour-glass shed its silent sand,
A tame opossum[212] licked his withered hand.
That sweetest light of slow-declining day,
Which through the trellis poured its slanting ray,
Resting a moment on his few gray hairs,
Seemed light from heaven sent down to bless his prayers.
When the trump echoed to the quiet spot,
He thought upon the world, but mourned it not;
Enough if his meek wisdom could control,
And bend to mercy, one proud soldier's soul; 220
Enough, if, while these distant scenes he trod,
He led one erring Indian to his God.
Whence comes my son? with kind complacent look
He asked, and closed again the embossed book.
I come to thee for peace, the youth replied:
Oh, there is strife, and cruelty, and pride,
In this sad Christian world! My native land
Was happy, ere the soldier, with his band
Of fell destroyers, like a vulture, came,
And gave its peaceful scenes to blood and flame. 230
When will the turmoil of earth's tempests cease?
Father, I come to thee for peace—for peace!
Seek peace, the father cried, with God above:
In His good time, all will be peace and love.
We mourn, indeed, mourn that all sounds of ill,
Earth's fairest scenes with one deep murmur fill;
That yonder sun, when evening paints the sky,
Sinks, beauteous, on a world of misery;[Pg 317]
The course of wide destruction to withstand,
We lift our feeble voice—our trembling hand; 240
But still, bowed low, or smitten to the dust,
Father of mercy, still in Thee we trust!
Through good or ill, in poverty or wealth,
In joy or woe, in sickness or in health,
Meek Piety thy awful hand surveys,
And the faint murmur turns to prayer and praise!
We know—whatever evils we deplore—
Thou hast permitted, and we know no more!
Behold, illustrious on the subject plain,
Some tow'r-crowned city of imperial Spain! 250
Hark! 'twas the earthquake![213] clouds of dust alone
Ascend from earth, where tower and temple shone!
Such is the conqueror's dread path: the grave
Yawns for its millions where his banners wave;
But shall vain man, whose life is but a sigh,
With sullen acquiescence gaze and die?
Alas, how little of the mighty maze
Of Providence our mortal ken surveys!
Heaven's awful Lord, pavilioned in the clouds,
Looks through the darkness that all nature shrouds; 260
And, far beyond the tempest and the night,
Bids man his course hold on to scenes of endless light.

[208] The city Baldivia.

[209] He had served in the wars of Italy.

[210] Lautaro had been baptized by that name.

[211] Valdivia had before been in Chili.

[212] A small and beautiful species, which is domesticated.

[213] No part of the world is so subject to earthquakes as Peru.[Pg 318]


CANTO THIRD.

ARGUMENT.

Evening and Night of the same Day.

Anselmo's story—Converted Indians—Confession of the Wandering Minstrel—Night-Scene.

Come,—for the sun yet hangs above the bay,—
And whilst our time may brook a brief delay
With other thoughts, and, haply with a tear,
An old man's tale of sorrow thou shalt hear.
I wished not to reveal it;—thoughts that dwell
Deep in the lonely bosom's inmost cell
Unnoticed, and unknown, too painful wake,
And, like a tempest, the dark spirit shake,
When, starting from our slumberous apathy,
We gaze upon the scenes of days gone by. 10
Yet, if a moment's irritating flush,
Darkens thy cheek,[214] as thoughts conflicting rush,
When I disclose my hidden griefs, the tale
May more than wisdom or reproof prevail.
Oh, may it teach thee, till all trials cease,
To hold thy course, though sorrowing, yet in peace;
Still looking up to Him, the soul's best stay,
Who Faith and Hope shall crown, when worlds are swept away!
Where fair Seville's Morisco[215] turrets gleam
On Guadilquiver's gently-stealing stream; 20
Whose silent waters, seaward as they glide,
Reflect the wild-rose thickets on its side,[Pg 319]
My youth was passed. Oh, days for ever gone!
How touched with Heaven's own light your mornings shone
Even now, when lonely and forlorn I bend,
My weary journey hastening to its end,
A drooping exile on a distant shore,
I mourn the hours of youth that are no more.
The tender thought amid my prayers has part,
And steals, at times, from Heaven my aged heart. 30
Forgive the cause, O God!—forgive the tear,
That flows, even now, o'er Leonora's bier;
For, 'midst the innocent and lovely, none
More beautiful than Leonora shone.
As by her widowed mother's side she knelt,
A sad and sacred sympathy I felt.
At Easter-tide, when the high mass was sung,
And, fuming high, the silver censer swung;
When rich-hued windows, from the arches' height,
Poured o'er the shrines a soft and yellow light; 40
From aisle to aisle, amid the service clear,
When "Adoremus" swelled upon the ear.
(Such as to Heaven thy rapt attention drew
First in the Christian churches of Peru),
She seemed, methought, some spirit of the sky,
Descending to that holy harmony.
But wherefore tell, when life and hope were new,
How by degrees the soul's first passion grew!
I loved her, and I won her virgin heart;
But fortune whispered, we a while must part. 50
The minster tolled the middle hour of night,
When, waked to agony and wild affright,
I heard those words, words of appalling dread—
"The Holy Inquisition!"—from the bed
I started; snatched my dagger, and my cloak—
Who dare accuse me!—none, in answer, spoke.[Pg 320]
The demons seized, in silence, on their prey,
And tore me from my dreams of bliss away.
How frightful was their silence, and their shade,
In torch-light, as their victim they conveyed, 60
By dark-inscribed, and massy-windowed walls,
Through the dim twilight of terrific halls;
(For thou hast heard me speak of that foul stain
Of pure religion, and the rights of Spain;)
Whilst the high windows shook to night's cold blast,
And echoed to the foot-fall as we passed!
They left me, faint and breathless with affright,
In a cold cell, to solitude and night;
Oh! think, what horror through the heart must thrill
When the last bolt was barred, and all at once was still! 70
Nor day nor night was here, but a deep gloom,
Sadder than darkness, wrapped the living tomb.
Some bread and water, nature to sustain,
Duly was brought when eve returned again;
And thus I knew, hoping it were the last,
Another day of lingering life was passed.
Five years immured in that deep den of night,
I never saw the sweet sun's blessed light.
Once as the grate, with sullen sound, was barred,
And to the bolts the inmost cavern jarred, 80
Methought I heard, as clanged the iron door,
A dull and hollow echo from the floor;
I stamped; the vault, and winding caves around,
Returned a long and melancholy sound.
With patient toil I raised a massy stone,
And looked into a depth of shade unknown;
The murky twilight of the lurid place
Helped me, at length, a secret way to trace:
I entered; step by step explored the road,
In darkness, from my desolate abode;[Pg 321] 90
Till, winding through long passages of night,
I saw, at distance, a dim streak of light:—
It was the sun—the bright, the blessed beam
Of day! I knelt—I wept;—the glittering stream
Rolled on beneath me, as I left the cave,
Concealed in woods above the winding wave.
I rested on a verdant bank a while,
I saw around the summer landscape smile;
I gained a peasant's hut; nor dared to leave,
Till, with slow step, advanced the glimmering eve. 100
Remembering still affection's fondest hours,
I turned my footsteps to the city towers;
In pilgrim's dress, I traced the streets unknown:
No light in Leonora's lattice shone.
The morning came; the busy tumult swells;
Knolling to church, I heard the minster bells;
Involuntary to that scene I strayed,
Disguised, where first I saw my faithful maid.
I saw her, pallid, at the altar stand,
And yield, half-shrinking, her reluctant hand; 110
She turned her head; she saw my hollow eyes,
And knew me, wasted, wan, in my disguise;
She shrieked, and fell;—breathless, I left the fane
In agony—nor saw her form again;
And from that day her voice, her look were given,
Her name, her memory, to the winds of heaven.
Far off I bent my melancholy way,
Heart-sick and faint, and, in this gown of gray,
From every human eye my sorrows hid,
Unknown, amidst the tumult of Madrid. 120
Grief in my heart, despair upon my look,
With no companion save my beads and book,
My morsel with Affliction's sons to share,
To tend the sick and poor, my only care,[Pg 322]
Forgotten, thus I lived; till day by day
Had worn nigh thirteen years of grief away.
One winter's night, when I had closed my cell,
And bid the labours of the day farewell,
An aged crone approached, with panting breath,
And bade me hasten to the house of death. 130
I came. With moving lips intent to pray,
A dying woman on a pallet lay;
Her lifted hands were wasted to the bone,
And ghastly on her look the lamp-light shone;
Beside the bed a pious daughter stands
Silent, and, weeping, kisses her pale hands.
Feebly she spoke, and raised her languid head,
Forgive, forgive!—they told me he was dead!—
But in the sunshine of that dreadful day,
That gave me to another's arms away, 140
I saw him, like a ghost, with deadly stare;
I saw his wasted eye-balls' ghastly glare;
I saw his lips (oh, hide them, God of love!)
I saw his livid lips, half-muttering, move,
To curse the maid—forgetful of her vow:—
Perhaps he lives to curse—to curse me now!
He lives to bless! I cried; and, drawing nigh,
Held up the crucifix; her heavy eye
She raised, and scarce pronounced—Does he yet live?
Can he his lost, his dying child forgive? 150
Will God forgive—the Lord who bled—will He?—
Ah, no, there is no mercy left for me!
Words were but vain, and colours all too faint,
That awful moment of despair to paint.
She knew me; her exhausted breath, with pain,
Drawing, she pressed my hand, and spoke again:
By a false guardian's cruel wiles deceived,
The tale of fraudful falsehood I believed,[Pg 323]
And thought thee dead; he gave the stern command,
And bade me take the rich Antonio's hand. 160
I knelt, implored, embraced my guardian's knees;
Ruthless inquisitor, he held the keys
Of the dark torture-house.[216] Trembling for life,
Yes, I became a sad, heart-broken wife!
Yet curse me not; of every human care
Already my full heart has had its share:
Abandoned, left in youth to want and woe,
Oh! let these tears, that agonising flow,
Witness how deep ev'n now my heart is rent!
Yet one is lovely—one is innocent! 170
Protect, protect, (and faint in death she smiled)
When I am dead, protect my orphan child!
The dreadful prison, that so long detained
My wasting life, her dying words explained.
The wretched priest, who wounded me by stealth,
Bartered her love, her innocence for wealth!
I laid her bones in earth; the chanted hymn
Echoed along the hollow cloister dim;
I heard, far off, the bell funereal toll,
And sorrowing said: Now peace be with her soul! 180
Far o'er the Western Ocean I conveyed,
And Indiana called the orphan maid;
Beneath my eye she grew, and, day by day,
Seemed, grateful, every kindness to repay.
Renouncing Spain, her cruelties and crimes,
Amid untutored tribes, in distant climes,
'Twas mine to spread the light of truth, or save
From stripes and torture the poor Indian slave.
I saw thee, young and innocent, alone,
Cast on the mercies of a race unknown;[Pg 324] 190
I saw, in dark adversity's cold hour,
Thy virtues blooming, like a winter's flower;
From chains and slavery I redeemed thy youth,
Poured on thy mental sight the beams of truth;
By thy warm heart and mild demeanour won,
Called thee my other child—my age's son.
I need not tell the sequel;—not unmoved
Poor Indiana heard thy tale, and loved;
Some sympathy a kindred fate might claim;
Your years, your fortunes, and your friend the same; 200
Both early of a parent's care bereft,
Both strangers in a world of sadness left;
I marked each slowly-struggling thought; I shed
A tear of love paternal on each head;
And, while I saw her timid eyes incline,
Blessed the affection that had made her thine!
Here let the murmurs of despondence cease:
There is a God—believe—and part in peace!
Rich hues illumed the track of dying day
As the great sun sank in the western bay, 210
And only its last light yet lingering shone,
Upon the highest palm-tree's feathery cone;
When at a distance on the dewy plain,
In mingled group appeared an Indian train;
Men, women, children, round Anselmo press,
Farewell! they cried. He raised his hand to bless,
And said: My children, may the God above
Still lead you in the paths of peace and love;
To-morrow, we must part;—when I am gone,
Raise on this spot a cross, and place a stone, 220
That tribes unborn may some memorial have,
When I far off am mouldering in the grave,
Of that poor messenger, who tidings bore
Of Gospel-mercy to your distant shore.[Pg 325]
The crowd retired; along the twilight gray,
The condor kept its solitary way,
The fire-flies shone, when to the hermit's cell
Who hastens but the minstrel Zarinel!
In foreign lands, far from his native home,
'Twas his, a gay, romantic youth, to roam, 230
With a light cittern o'er his shoulders slung,
Where'er he passed he played, and loved, and sung;
And thus accomplished, late had joined the train
Of gallant soldiers on the southern plain.
Father, he cried, uncertain of the fate
That may to-morrow's toilsome march await,
For long will be the road, I would confess
Some secret thoughts that on my bosom press.
They are of one I left, an Indian maid,
Whose trusting love my careless heart betrayed. 240
Say, may I speak?
Say on, the father cried,
Nor be to penitence all hope denied.
Then hear, Anselmo! From a very child
I loved all fancies marvellous and wild;
I turned from truth, to listen to the lore
Of many an old and fabling troubadour.
Thus, with impassioned heart, and wayward mind,
To dreams and shapes of shadowy things resigned,
I left my native vales and village home, 250
Wide o'er the world a minstrel boy to roam.
I never shall forget the day, the hour,
When, all my soul resigned to Fancy's power,
First, from the snowy Pyrenees, I cast
My labouring vision o'er the landscape vast,
And saw beneath my feet long vapours float,
Streams, mountains, woods, and ocean's mist remote.[Pg 326]
There once I met a soldier, poor and old,
Who tales of Cortes and Bilboa told,
And this new world; he spoke of Indian maids, 260
Rivers like seas, and forests whose deep shades
Had never yet been pierced by morning ray,
And how the green bird mocked, and talked all day.
Imagination thus, in colours new,
This distant world presented to my view;
Young, and enchanted with the fancied scene,
I crossed the toiling seas that roared between,
And with ideal images impressed,
Stood on these unknown shores a wondering guest.
Still to romantic phantasies resigned, 270
I left Callao's crowded port behind,
And climbed the mountains which their shadow threw
Upon the lessening summits of Peru.
Some sheep the armed peasants drove before,
That all our food through the wild passes bore,
Had wandered in the frost-smoke of the morn,
Far from the track; I blew the signal horn—
But echo only answered: 'mid the snows,
Wildered and lost, I saw the evening close.
The sun was setting in the crimson west; 280
In all the earth I had no home of rest;
The last sad light upon the ice-hills shone;
I seemed forsaken in a world unknown;
How did my cold and sinking heart rejoice,
When, hark! methought I heard a human voice!
It might be some wild Indian's roving troop,
Or the dread echo of their distant whoop;
Still it was human, and I seemed to find
Again some commerce with remote mankind.
The voice comes nearer, rising through the shade— 290
Is it the song of some rude mountain-maid?[Pg 327]
And now I heard the tread of hastening feet,
And, in the western glen, a Llama bleat.
I listened—all is still; but hark! again
Near and more near is heard the welcome strain;
It is a wild maid's carolling, who seeks
Her wandering Llama 'midst the snowy peaks:
Truant, she cried, thy lurking place is found!
With languid touch I waked the cittern's sound,
And soon a maid, by the pale light, I saw 300
Gaze breathless with astonishment and awe:
What instant terrors to her fancy rose,
Ha! is it not the Spirit of the snows!
But when she saw me, weary, cold, and weak,
Stretch forth my hand (for now I could not speak),
She pitied, raised me from the snows, and led
My faltering footsteps to her father's shed;
The Llama followed with her tinkling bell;
The dwelling rose within a craggy dell,
O'erhung with icy summits. To be brief, 310
She was the daughter of an aged chief;
He, by her gentle voice to pity won,
Showed mercy, for himself had lost a son.
The father spoke not; by the pine-wood blaze,
The daughter stood, and turned a cake of maize;
And then, as sudden shone the light, I saw
Such features as no artist hand might draw.
Her form, her face, her symmetry, her air,
Father! thy age must such recital spare:—
She saved my life; and kindness, if not love, 320
Might sure in time the coldest bosom move!
Mine was not cold; she loved to hear me sing,
And sometimes touched with playful hand the string;
And when I waked some melancholy strain,
She wept, and smiled, and bade me sing again.[Pg 328]
So many a happy day, in this deep glen,
Far from the noise of life, and sounds of men,
Was passed! Nay, father, the sad sequel hear:
'Twas now the leafy spring-time of the year—
Ambition called me: true, I knew to part
Would break her generous, warm, and trusting heart;
True, I had vowed, but now estranged and cold,
She saw my look, and shuddered to behold:—
She would go with me, leave the lonely glade
Where she grew up, but my stern voice forbade;
She hid her face and wept: Go then away,
(Father, methinks, ev'n now, I hear her say)
Go to thy distant land, forget this tear,
Forget these rocks, forget I once was dear;
Fly to the world, o'er the wide ocean fly, 240
And leave me unremembered here to die!
Yet to my father should I all relate,
Death, instant death, would be a traitor's fate!
Nor fear, nor pity moved my stubborn mind,
I left her sorrows and the scene behind;
I sought Valdivia on the southern plain,
And joined the careless military train;
Oh! ere I sleep, thus, lowly on my knee,
Father, I absolution crave from thee!
Anselmo spoke, with look and voice severe: 250
Yes, thoughtless youth, my absolution hear.
First, by deep penitence the wrong atone,
Then absolution ask from God alone!
Yet stay, and to my warning voice attend,
And hear me as a father, and a friend.
Let Truth severe be wayward Fancy's guide,
Let stern-eyed Conscience o'er each thought preside;
The passions, that on noblest natures prey,
Oh! cast them, like corroding bonds, away![Pg 329]
Disdain to act mean falsehood's coward part, 360
And let religion dignify thine art.
If, by thy bed, thou seest at midnight stand
Pale Conscience, pointing, with terrific hand,
To deeds of darkness done, whilst, like a corse,
To shake thy soul, uprises dire Remorse;
Fly to God's mercy, fly, ere yet too late—
Perhaps one hour marks thy eternal fate;
Let the warm tear of deep contrition flow,
The heart obdurate melt, like softening snow,
The last vain follies of thy youth deplore, 370
Then go, in secret weep, and sin no more!
The stars innumerous in their watches shone—
Anselmo knelt before the cross alone.
Ten thousand glowing orbs their pomp displayed,
Whilst, looking up, thus silently he prayed:—
Oh! how oppressive to the aching sense,
How fearful were this vast magnificence,
This prodigality of glory, spread
Above a poor and dying emmet's head,
That toiled his transient hour upon the shore 380
Of mortal life, and then was seen no more;
If man beheld, on his terrific throne,
A dark, cold, distant Deity, alone!
Felt no relating, no endearing tie,
That Hope might upwards raise her glistening eye,
And think, with deep unutterable bliss,
In yonder radiant realm my kingdom is!
More glorious than those orbs that silent roll,
Shines Heaven's redeeming mercy on the soul—
Oh, pure effulgence of unbounded love! 390
In Thee, I think—I feel—I live—I move;
Yet when, O Thou, whose name is Love and Light,
When will thy Dayspring on these realms of night[Pg 330]
Arise! Oh! when shall severed nations raise
One hallelujah of triumphant praise,
Tibet on Fars, Andes on Atlas call,
And "roll the loud hosannah" round the ball!
Soon may Thy kingdom come, that love, and peace,
And charity, may bid earth's chidings cease!
Meantime, in life or death, through good or ill, 400
Thy poor and feeble servant, I fulfil,
As best I may, Thy high and holy will,
Till, weary, on the world my eyelids close,
And I enjoy my long and last repose!

[214] Indians of Chili are of the lightest class, called by some "white Indians."

[215]—Of Moorish architecture.

[216] Seville was the first place in Spain in which the Inquisition was established, in 1481.

CANTO FOURTH.

ARGUMENT.

Assembly of Indian warriors—Caupolican, Ongolmo, Teucapel, Mountain-chief—Song of the Indian Wizard—White woman and child.

Far in the centre of the deepest wood,
The assembled fathers of their country stood.
'Twas midnight now; the pine-wood fire burned red,
And to the leaves a shadowy glimmer spread;
The struggling smoke, or flame with fitful glance,
Obscured, or showed, some dreadful countenance;
And every warrior, as his club he reared,
With larger shadow, indistinct, appeared;
While more terrific, his wild locks and mien,
And fierce eye, through the quivering smoke, was seen. 10
In sea-wolf's skin, here Mariantu stood;
Gnashed his white teeth, impatient, and cried, blood!
His lofty brow, with crimson feathers bound,
Here, brooding death, the huge Ongolmo frowned;[Pg 331]
And, like a giant of no earthly race,
To his broad shoulders heaved his ponderous mace.
With lifted hatchet, as in act to fell,
Here stood the young and ardent Teucapel.
Like a lone cypress, stately in decay,
When time has worn its summer boughs away, 20
And hung its trunk with moss and lichens sere,
The Mountain-warrior rested on his spear.
And thus, and at this hour, a hundred chiefs,
Chosen avengers of their country's griefs;
Chiefs of the scattered tribes that roam the plain,
That sweeps from Andes to the western main,
Their country-gods, around the coiling smoke,
With sacrifice, and silent prayers, invoke.
For all, at first, were silent as the dead;
The pine was heard to whisper o'er their head, 30
So stood the stern assembly; but apart,
Wrapped in the spirit of his fearful art,
Alone, to hollow sounds of hideous hum,
The wizard-seer struck his prophetic drum.
Silent they stood, and watched with anxious eyes,
What phantom-shape might from the ground arise;
No voices came, no spectre-form appeared;
A hollow sound, but not of winds, was heard
Among the leaves, and distant thunder low,
Which seemed like moans of an expiring foe. 40
His crimson feathers quivering in the smoke,
Then, with loud voice, first Mariantu spoke:
Hail we the omen! Spirits of the slain,
I hear your voices! Mourn, devoted Spain!
Pale-visaged tyrants! still, along our coasts,
Shall we despairing mark your iron hosts!
Spirits of our brave fathers, curse the race
Who thus your name, your memory disgrace![Pg 332]
No; though yon mountain's everlasting snows
In vain Almagro's[217] toilsome march oppose; 50
Though Atacama's long and wasteful plain
Be heaped with blackening carcases in vain;
Though still fresh hosts those snowy summits scale,
And scare the Llamas with their glittering mail;
Though sullen castles lour along our shore;
Though our polluted soil be drenched with gore;
Insolent tyrants! we, prepared to die,
Your arms, your horses, and your gods, defy!
He spoke: the warriors stamped upon the ground,
And tore the feathers that their foreheads bound. 60
Insolent tyrants! burst the general cry,
We, met for vengeance—we, prepared to die,
Your arms, your horses, and your gods, defy!
Then Teucapel, with warm emotion, cried:
This hatchet never yet in blood was dyed;
May it be buried deep within my heart,
If living from the conflict I depart,
Till loud, from shore to shore, is heard one cry,
See! in their gore where the last tyrants lie!
The Mountain-warrior: Oh, that I could raise 70
The hatchet too, as in my better days,
When victor on Maypocha's banks I stood;
And while the indignant river rolled in blood,
And our swift arrows hissed like rushing rain,
I cleft Almagro's iron helm in twain!
My strength is well-nigh gone! years marked with woe
Have o'er me passed, and bowed my spirit low!
Alas, I have no son! Beloved boy,
Thy father's last, best hope, his pride, his joy![Pg 333]
Oh, hadst thou lived, sole object of my prayers, 80
To guard my waning life, and these gray hairs,
How bravely hadst thou now, in manhood's pride,
Swung the uplifted war-club by my side!
But the Great Spirit willed not! Thou art gone;
And, weary, on this earth I walk alone;
Thankful if I may yield my latest breath,
And bless my country in the pangs of death!
With words deliberate, and uplifted hand,
Mild to persuade, yet dauntless to command,
Raising his hatchet high, Caupolican 90
Surveyed the assembled chiefs, and thus began:
Friends, fathers, brothers, dear and sacred names!
Your stern resolve each ardent look proclaims;
On then to conquest; let one hope inspire,
One spirit animate, one vengeance fire!
Who doubts the glorious issue! To our foes
A tenfold strength and spirit we oppose.
In them no god protects his mortal sons,
Or speaks, in thunder, from their roaring guns.
Nor come they children of the radiant sky; 100
But, like the wounded snake, to writhe and die.
Then, rush resistless on their prostrate bands,
Snatch the red lightning from their feeble hands,
And swear to the great spirits, hovering near,
Who now this awful invocation hear,
That we shall never see our household hearth,
Till, like the dust, we sweep them from the earth.
But vain our strength, that idly, in the fight,
Tumultuous wastes its ineffectual might,
Unless to one the hatchet we confide; 110
Let one our numbers, one our counsels guide.
And, lo! for all that in this world is dear,
I raise this hatchet, raise it high, and swear,[Pg 334]
Never again to lay it down, till we,
And all who love this injured land, are free!
At once the loud acclaim tumultuous ran:
Our spears, our life-blood, for Caupolican!
With thee, for all that in this world is dear,
We lift our hatchets, lift them high, and swear,
Never again to lay them down, till we, 120
And all who love this injured land, are free!
Then thus the chosen chief: Bring forth the slave,
And let the death-dance recreate the brave.
Two warriors led a Spanish captive, bound
With thongs; his eyes were fixed upon the ground.
Dark cypresses the mournful spot inclose:
High in the midst an ancient mound arose,
Marked on each side with monumental stones,
And white beneath with skulls and scattered bones.
Four poniards, on the mound, encircling stood, 130
With points erect, dark with forgotten blood.
Forthwith, with louder voice, the chief commands:
Bring forth the lots, unbind the captive's hands;
Then north, towards his country, turn his face,
And dig beneath his feet a narrow space.[218]
Caupolican uplifts his axe, and cries:
Gods, of our land be yours this sacrifice!—
Now, listen, warriors!—and forthwith commands
To place the billets in the captive's hands—
Soldier, cast in the lot! 140
With looks aghast,
The captive in the trench a billet cast.
Soldier, declare, who leads the arms of Spain,
Where Santiago frowns upon the plain?[Pg 335]
CAPTIVE.
Villagra!
WARRIOR.
Earth upon the billet heap;
So may a tyrant's heart be buried deep!
The dark woods echoed to the long acclaim,
Accursed be his nation and his name! 150
WARRIOR.
Captive, declare who leads the Spanish bands,
Where the proud fortress shades Coquimbo's sands.
CAPTIVE.
Ocampo!
WARRIOR.
Earth upon the billet heap;
So may a tyrant's heart be buried deep!
The dark woods echoed to the long acclaim,
Accursed be his nation and his name!
WARRIOR.
Cast in the lot.
Again, with looks aghast,
The captive in the trench a billet cast. 160
Pronounce his name who here pollutes the plain,
The leader of the mailed hosts of Spain!
CAPTIVE.
Valdivia!
At that name a sudden cry
Burst forth, and every lance was lifted high.[Pg 336]
WARRIOR.
Valdivia!
Earth upon the billet heap;
So may a tyrant's heart be buried deep!
The dark woods echoed to the long acclaim,
Accursed be his nation and his name! 170
And now loud yells, and whoops of death resound;
The shuddering captive ghastly gazed around,
When the huge war-club smote him to the ground.
Again deep stillness hushed the listening crowd,
While the prophetic wizard sang aloud.

SONG TO THE GOD OF WAR.

By thy habitation dread,
In the valley of the dead,
Where no sun, nor day, nor night,
Breaks the red and dusky light;
By the grisly troops, that ride, 180
Of slaughtered Spaniards, at thy side,—
Slaughtered by the Indian spear,
Mighty Epananum,[219] hear!
Hark, the battle! Hark, the din!
Now the deeds of Death begin!
The Spaniards come, in clouds! above,
I hear their hoarse artillery move!
Spirits of our fathers slain,
Haste, pursue the dogs of Spain!
The noise was in the northern sky! 190
Haste, pursue! They fly—they fly!
Now from the cavern's secret cell,
Where the direst phantoms dwell,[Pg 337]
See they rush,[220] and, riding high,
Break the moonlight as they fly;
And, on the shadowed plain beneath,
Shoot, unseen, the shafts of Death!
O'er the devoted Spanish camp,
Like a vapour, dark and damp,
May they hover, till the plain 200
Is hid beneath the countless slain;
And none but silent women tread
From corse to corse, to seek the dead!
The wavering fire flashed with expiring light,
When shrill and hollow, through the cope of night,
A distant shout was heard; at intervals,
Increasing on the listening ear it falls.
It ceased; when, bursting from the thickest wood,
With lifted axe, two gloomy warriors stood;
Wan in the midst, with dark and streaming hair, 210
Blown by the winds upon her bosom bare,
A woman, faint from terror's wild alarms,
And folding a white infant in her arms,
Appeared. Each warrior stooped his lance to gaze
On her pale looks, seen ghastlier through the blaze.
Save! she exclaimed, with harrowed aspect wild;
Oh, save my innocent, my helpless child!
Then fainting fell, as from death's instant stroke;
Caupolican, with stern inquiry, spoke:
Whence come, to interrupt our awful rite, 220
At this dread hour, the warriors of the night?
From ocean.
Who is she who fainting lies,
And now scarce lifts her supplicating eyes?[Pg 338]
The Spanish ship went down; the seamen bore,
In a small boat, this woman to the shore:
They fell beneath our hatchets,—and again,
We gave them back to the insulted main.[221]
The child and woman—of a race we hate—
Warriors, 'tis yours, here to decide their fate. 230
Vengeance! aloud fierce Mariantu cried:
Let vengeance on the race be satisfied!
Let none of hated Spanish blood remain,
Woman or child, to violate our plain!
Amid that dark and bloody scene, the child
Stretched to the mountain-chief his hands and smiled.
A starting tear of pity dimmed the eye
Of the old warrior, though he knew not why.
Oh, think upon your little ones! he cried,
Nor be compassion to the weak denied. 240
Caupolican then fixed his aspect mild
On the white woman and her shrinking child,
Then firmly spoke:—
White woman, we were free,
When first thy brethren of the distant sea
Came to our shores! White woman, theirs the guilt!
Theirs, if the blood of innocence be spilt!
Yet blood we seek not, though our arms oppose
The hate of foreign and remorseless foes;
Thou camest here a captive, so abide, 250
Till the Great Spirit shall our cause decide.
He spoke: the warriors of the night obey;
And, ere the earliest streak of dawning day,
They lead her from the scene of blood away.

[217] The first Spaniard who visited Chili. He entered it by the dreadful passage of the snows of the Andes; but afterwards the passage was attempted through the desert of Atacama.

[218] The reader is referred to Molina for a particular description of the war sacrifice, which is very striking and poetical.

[219] Name of the War-deity.

[220] Terrific imaginary beings, called "man-animals," that leave their caves by night, and scatter pestilence and death as they fly.—See Molina.

[221] "Render them back upon the insulted ocean."—Coleridge.[Pg 339]


CANTO FIFTH.

ARGUMENT.

Ocean Cave—Spanish Captive—Wild Indian Maid—Genius of Andes, and Spirits.

'Tis dawn:—the distant Andes' rocky spires,
One after one, have caught the orient fires.
Where the dun condor shoots his upward flight,
His wings are touched with momentary light.
Meantime, beneath the mountains' glittering heads,
A boundless ocean of gray vapour spreads,
That o'er the champaign, stretching far below,
Moves now, in clustered masses, rising slow,
Till all the living landscape is displayed
In various pomp of colour, light, and shade, 10
Hills, forests, rivers, lakes, and level plain,
Lessening in sunshine to the southern main.
The Llama's fleece fumes with ascending dew;
The gem-like humming-birds their toils renew;
And there, by the wild river's devious side,
The tall flamingo, in its crimson pride,
Stalks on, in richest plumage bright arrayed,
With snowy neck superb,[222] and legs of lengthening shade.
Sad maid, for others may the valleys ring,
For other ears the birds of morning sing; 20
For other eyes the palms in beauty wave,
Dark is thy prison in the ocean-cave!
Amid that winding cavern's inmost shade,
A dripping rill its ceaseless murmur made:[Pg 340]
Masses of dim-discovered crags aloof,
Hung, threatening, from the vast and vaulted roof:
And through a fissure, in its glimmering height,
Seen like a star, appeared the distant light;
Beneath the opening, where the sunbeams shine,
Far down, the rock-weed hung its slender twine. 30
Here, pale and bound, the Spanish captive lay,
Till morn on morn, in silence, passed away;
When once, as o'er her sleeping child she hung,
And sad her evening supplication sung;
Like a small gem, amidst the gloom of night,
A glow-worm shot its green and trembling light,—
And, 'mid the moss and craggy fragments, shed
Faint lustre o'er her sleeping infant's head;
And hark! a voice—a woman's voice, its sound
Dies in faint echoes, 'mid the vault profound: 40
Let us pity the poor white maid![223]
She has no mother near!
No friend to dry her tear!
Upon the cold earth she is laid:
Let us pity the poor white maid!
It seemed the burden of a song of woe;
And see, across the gloom an Indian girl move slow!
Her nearer look is sorrowful, yet mild,
Her hanging locks are wreathed with rock-weed wild;
Gently she spoke, Poor Christian, dry thy tear: 50
Art thou afraid? all are not cruel here.
Oh! still more wretched may my portion be,
Stranger, if I could injure thine and thee!
And, lo! I bring, from banks and thickets wild,
Wood-strawberries, and honey for thy child.[Pg 341]
Whence, who art thou, who, in this fearful place,
Does comfort speak to one of Spanish race?
INDIAN.
It is an Indian maid, who chanced to hear
Thy tale of sorrow, as she wandered near:
I loved a white man once; but he is flown, 60
And now I wander heartless and alone.
I traced the dark and winding way beneath:
But well I know to lead thee hence were death.
Oh, say! what fortunes cast thee o'er the wave,
On these sad shores perhaps to find a grave?
SPANISH WOMAN.
Three years have passed since a fond husband left
Me and this infant, of his love bereft;
Him I have followed; need I tell thee more,
Cast helpless, friendless, hopeless, on this shore.
INDIAN.
Oh! did he love thee, then? Let death betide, 70
Yes, from this cavern I will be thy guide.
Nay, do not shrink! from Caracalla's bay,
Ev'n now, the Spaniards wind their march this way.
As late in yester eve I paced the shore
I heard their signal-guns at distance roar.
Wilt thou not follow? He will shield thy child,—
The Christian's God,—through passes dark and wild
He will direct thy way! Come, follow me;
Oh, yet be loved, be happy, and be free!
But I, an outcast on my native plain, 80
The poor Olola ne'er shall smile again!
So guiding from the cave, when all was still,
And pointing to the furthest glimmering hill,[Pg 342]
The Indian led, till, on Itata's side,
The Spanish camp and night-fires they descried:
Then on the stranger's neck that wild maid fell,
And said, Thy own gods prosper thee, farewell!
The owl[224] is hooting overhead; below,
On dusky wing, the vampire-bat sails slow.
Ongolmo stood before the cave of night, 90
Where the great wizard sat:—a lurid light
Was on his face; twelve giant shadows frowned,
His mute and dreadful ministers, around.
Each eye-ball, as in life, was seen to roll,
Each lip to move; but not a living soul
Was there, save bold Ongolmo and the seer.
The warrior half advanced his lifted spear,
Then spoke: Dread master of the mighty lore!
Say, shall the Spaniards welter in their gore?
Let these dark ministers the answer tell, 100
Replied the master of the mighty spell.
Then every giant-shadow, as it stood,
Lifted on high a skull that dropped with blood.
Yet more, the impatient warrior cried; yet more!
Say, shall I live, and drink the tyrant's gore?
'Twas silence. Speak! he cried: none made reply.
At once strange thunder shook the distant sky,
And all was o'er; the grisly shapes are flown,
And the grim warrior stands in the wild woods alone.
St Pedro's church had rung its midnight chimes, 110
And the gray friars were chanting at their primes,
When winds, as of a rushing hurricane,
Shook the tall windows of the towered fane;—
Sounds more than earthly with the storm arose,
And a dire troop are passed to Andes' snows,
Where mighty spirits in mysterious ring
Their dread prophetic incantations sing,[Pg 343]
Round Chillan's crater-smoke, whose lurid light
Streams high against the hollow cope of night.
Thy genius, Andes, towering o'er the rest, 120
Rose vast, and thus a phantom-shape addressed:
Who comes so swift amid the storm?
Ha! I know thy bloodless form,
I know thee, angel, who thou art,
By the hissing of thy dart!
'Tis Death, the king! the rocks around,
Hark! echo back the fearful sound;—
'Tis Death, the king! away, away!
The famished vulture scents its prey.
Spectre, hence! we cannot die— 130
Thy withering weapons we defy;
Dire and potent as thou art!
Then spoke the phantom of the uplifted dart:
Spirits who in darkness dwell,
I heard far off your secret spell!
Enough, on yonder fatal shore,
My fiends have drank your children's gore;
Lo! I come, and doom to fate
The murderers, and the foe you hate!
Of all who shook their hostile spears, 140
And marked their way through blood and tears,
(Now sleeping still on yonder plain)
But one—one only shall remain,
Ere thrice the morn shall shine again.
Then sang the mighty spirits. Thee, they sing,
Hail to thee, Death, all hail to Death, the king!
The penguin flaps her wings in gore,
Devoted Spain, along the shore.
Whence that shriek? with ghastly eyes,
Thy victor-chief abandoned lies! 150
Victor of the southern world,[Pg 344]
Whose crimson banners were unfurled
O'er the silence of the waves,—
O'er a land of bleeding slaves!
Victor, where is now thy boast;
Thine iron steeds, thy mailed host?
Hark! hark! even now I hear his cries!—
Spirits, hence!—he dies! he dies!

[222] The neck of the flamingo is white, and its wings of rich and beautiful crimson.

[223] From Mungo Park.

[224] The owl is an object of peculiar dread to the Indian of Chili.


CANTO SIXTH.

ARGUMENT.

The City of Conception—The City of Penco—Castle—Lautaro—Wild Indian Maid—Zarinel—Missionary.

The second moon had now begun to wane,
Since bold Valdivia left the southern plain;
Goal of his labours, Penco's port and bay,
Far gleaming to the summer sunset lay.
The wayworn veteran, who had slowly passed
Through trackless woods, or o'er savannahs vast,
With hope impatient sees the city spires
Gild the horizon, like ascending fires.
Now well-known sounds salute him, as more near
The citadel and battlements appear; 10
The approaching trumpets ring at intervals;
The trumpet answers from the rampart walls,
Where many a maiden casts an anxious eye,
Some long-lost object of her love to espy,
Or watches, as the evening light illumes
The points of lances, or the passing plumes.[Pg 345]
The grating drawbridge and the portal-arch,
Now echo to the long battalion's march;
Whilst every eye some friend remembered greets,
Amid the gazing crowd that throngs the streets. 20
As bending o'er his mule, amid the throng,
Pensive and pale, Anselmo rode along,
How sacred, 'mid the noise of arms, appeared
His venerable mien and snowy beard!
Whilst every heart a silent prayer bestowed,
Slow to the convent's massy gate he rode:
Around, the brothers, gratulating, stand,
And ask for tidings of the southern land.
As from the turret tolls the vesper bell,
He seeks, a weary man, his evening cell, 30
No sounds of social cheer, no beds of state,
Nor gorgeous canopies his coming wait;
But o'er a little bread, with folded hands,
Thanking the God that gave, a while he stands;
Then, while all thoughts of earthly sorrow cease,
Upon his pallet lays him down in peace.
The scene how different, where the castle-hall
Rings to the loud triumphant festival:
A hundred torches blaze, and flame aloof,
Long quivering shadows streak the vaulted roof,— 40
Whilst, seen far off, the illumined windows throw
A splendour on the shore and seas below.
Amid his captains, in imperial state,
Beneath a crimson canopy, elate,
Valdivia sits—and, striking loud the strings,
The wandering ministrel of Valentia sings.
For Chili conquered, fill the bowl again!
For Chili conquered, raise the heroic strain!
Lautaro left the hall of jubilee
Unmarked, and wandered by the moonlit sea:[Pg 346] 50
He heard far off, in dissonant acclaim,
The song, the shout, and his loved country's name.
As swelled at times the trump's insulting sound,
He raised his eyes impatient from the ground;
Then smote his breast indignantly, and cried,
Chili! my country; would that I had died
On the sad night of that eventful day
When on the ground my murdered father lay!
I should not then, dejected and alone,
Have thought I heard his injured spirit groan. 60
Ha! was it not his form—his face—his hair?
Hold, soldier! stern, inhuman soldier, spare!
Ha! is it not his blood? Avenge, he cries,
Avenge, my son, these wounds! He faints—he dies!
Leave me, dread shadow! Can I then forget
My father's look—his voice? He beckons yet!
Now on that glimmering rock I see him stand:
Avenge! he cries, and waves his dim-seen hand!
Thus mused the youth, distempered and forlorn,
When, hark! the sound as of a distant horn 70
Swells o'er the surge! he turned his look around,
And still, with many a pause, he heard the sound:
It came from yonder rocks; and, list! what strain
Breaks on the silence of the sleeping main?
I heard the song of gladness;
It seemed but yesterday,
But it turned my thoughts to madness,
So soon it died away:
I sound my sea-shell; but in vain I try
To bring back that enchanting harmony! 80
Hark! heard ye not the surges say,
Oh! heartless maid, what canst thou do?
O'er the moon-gleaming ocean, I'll wander away,
And paddle to Spain in my light canoe![Pg 347]
The youth drew near, by the strange accents led,
Where in a cave, wild sea-weeds round her head,
And holding a large sea-conch in her hand,
He saw, with wildering air, an Indian maiden stand. 100
A tattered poncho o'er her shoulders hung;
On either side her long black locks were flung;
And now by the moon's glimmer, he espies
Her high cheek-bones, and bright but hollow eyes.
Lautaro spoke: Oh! say what cruel wrong
Weighs on thy heart, maiden, what bodes thy song?
She answered not, but blew her shell again;
Then thus renewed the desultory strain:
Yes, yes, we must forget! the world is wide;
My music now shall be the dashing tide: 100
In the calm of the deep I will frolic and swim—
With the breath of the South o'er the sea-blossom[225] skim.
If ever, stranger, on thy way,
Sounds, more than earthly sweet, thy soul should move,
It is the youth! Oh! do not say—
That poor Olola died for love.
Lautaro stretched his hand; she said, Adieu!
And o'er the glimmering rocks like lightning flew.
He followed, and still heard at distance swell
The lessening echoes of that mournful shell. 110
It ceased at once; and now he heard no more
Than the sea's murmur dying on the shore.
Olola!—ha! his sister had that name!
Oh, horrid fancies! shake not thus his frame!
All night he wandered by the desert main,
To catch the melancholy sounds again.
No torches blaze in Penco's castled hall
That echoed to the midnight festival.[Pg 348]
The weary soldiers by their toils oppressed,
Had now retired to silence and to rest. 120
The minstrel only, who the song had sung
Of noble Cid, as o'er the strings he hung,
Upon the instrument had fall'n asleep,
Weary, and now was hushed in slumbers deep.
Tracing the scenes long past, in busy dreams
Again he wanders by his native streams;
Or sits, his evening saraband to sing
To the clear Garonne's gentle murmuring.
Cold o'er the fleckered clouds the morning broke
Aslant ere from his slumbers he awoke; 130
Still as he sat, nor yet had left the place,
The first dim light fell on his pallid face.
He wakes—he gazes round—the dawning day
Comes from the deep, in garb of cloudy gray.
The woods with crow of early turkeys ring,
The glancing birds beneath the castle sing,
And the sole sun his rising orb displays,
Radiant and reddening, through the scattered haze.
To recreate the languid sense a while,
When earth and ocean wore their sweetest smile, 140
He wandered to the beach: the early air
Blew soft, and lifted, as it blew, his hair;
Flushed was his cheek; his faded eye, more bright,
Shone with a faint but animated light,
While the soft morning ray seemed to bestow
On his tired mind a transient kindred glow.
As thus, with shadow stretching o'er the sand,
He mused and wandered on the winding strand,
At distance tossed upon the tumbling tide,
A dark and floating substance he espied. 150
He stood, and where the eddying surges beat,
An Indian corse was rolled beneath his feet:[Pg 349]
The hollow wave retired with sullen sound;
The face of that sad corse was to the ground;
It seemed a female, by the slender form;
He touched the hand—it was no longer warm;
He turned its face—O God! that eye, though dim,
Seemed with its deadly glare as fixed on him!
How sunk his shuddering sense, how changed his hue,
When poor Olola in that corse he knew! 160
Lautaro, rushing from the rocks, advanced;
His keen eye, like a startled eagle's glanced:
'Tis she!—he knew her by a mark impressed
From earliest infancy beneath her breast.
Oh, my poor sister! when all hopes were past
Of meeting, do we meet—thus meet—at last!
Then full on Zarinel, as one amazed,
With rising wrath and stern suspicion gazed;
For Zarinel still knelt upon the sand,
And to his forehead pressed the dead maid's hand. 170
Speak! whence art thou?
Pale Zarinel, his head
Upraising answered,
Peace is with the dead!
Him dost thou seek who injured thine and thee?
Here—strike the fell assassin—I am he!
Die! he exclaimed, and with convulsive start
Instant had plunged the dagger in his heart,
When the meek father, with his holy book,
And placid aspect, met his frenzied look. 180
He trembled—struck his brow—and, turning round,
Flung the uplifted dagger to the ground.
Then murmured: Father, Heaven has heard thy prayer—
But oh! the sister of my soul lies there!
The Christian's God has triumphed! father, heap
Some earth upon her bones, whilst I go weep![Pg 350]
Anselmo with calm brow approached the place,
And hastened with his staff his faltering pace:
Ho! child of guilt and wretchedness, he cried,
Speak!—Holy father, the sad youth replied, 190
God bade the seas the accusing victim roll
Dead at my feet, to teach my shuddering soul
Its guilt: Oh! father, holy father, pray
That heaven may take the deep, dire curse away!
Oh! yet, Anselmo cried, live and repent,
For not in vain was this dread warning sent;
The deep reproaches of thy soul I spare,
Go! seek Heaven's peace by penitence and prayer.
The youth arose, yet trembling from the shock,
And severed from the dead maid's hair a lock; 200
This to his heart with trembling hand he pressed,
And dried the salt-sea moisture on his breast.
They laid her limbs within the sea-beat grave,
And prayed: Her soul, O blessed Mary, save!

[225] The "sea-blossom," Holothuria, known to seamen by the name of "Portuguese man of war," is among the most striking and beautiful objects in the calms of the Southern ocean.


CANTO SEVENTH.

ARGUMENT.

Midnight—Valdivia's tent—Missionary—March to the Valley Arauco—First sight of assembled Indians.

The watchman on the tower his bugle blew,
And swelling to the morn the streamers flew;
The rampart-guns a dread alarum gave,
Smoke rolled, and thunder echoed o'er the wave;
When, starting from his couch, Valdivia cried,
What tidings? Of the tribes! a scout replied;
Ev'n now, prepared thy bulwarks to assail,
Their gathering numbers darken all the vale![Pg 351]
Valdivia called to the attendant youth,
Philip, he cried, belike thy words have truth; 10
The formidable host, by holy James,
Might well appal our priests and city dames!
Dost thou not fear? Nay—dost thou not reply?
Now by the rood, and all the saints on high,
I hold it sin that thou shouldst lift thy hand
Against thy brothers in thy native land!
But, as thou saidst, those mighty enemies
Me and my feeble legions would despise.
Yes, by our holy lady, thou shalt ride,
Spectator of their prowess, by my side! 20
Come life, come death, our battle shall display
Its ensigns to the earliest beam of day!
With louder summons ring the rampart-bell,
And haste the shriving father from his cell;
A soldier's heart rejoices in alarms:
And let the trump at midnight sound to arms!
And now, obedient to the chief's commands,
The gray-haired priest before the soldier stands.
Father, Valdivia cried, fierce are our foes,—
The last event of war God only knows;— 30
Let mass be sung; father, this very night
I would attend the high and holy rite.
Yet deem not that I doubt of victory,
Or place defeat or death before mine eye;
It blenches not! But, whatsoe'er befall,
Good father, I would part in peace with all.
So, tell Lautaro—his ingenuous mind
Perhaps may grieve, if late I seemed unkind:—
Hear my heart speak, though far from virtue's way
Ambition's lure hath led my steps astray, 40
No wanton exercise of barbarous power
Harrows my shrinking conscience at this hour.[Pg 352]
If hasty passions oft my spirit fire,
They flash a moment and the next expire;
Lautaro knows it. There is somewhat more:
I would not, here—here, on this distant shore
(Should they, the Indian multitudes, prevail,
And this good sword and these firm sinews fail)
Amid my deadly enemies be found,
"Unhouseled, ananealed," upon the ground, 50
A dying man;—thy look, thy reverend age,
Might save my poor remains from barb'rous rage;
And thou may'st pay the last sad obsequies,
O'er the heaped earth where a brave soldier lies:—
So God be with thee!
By the torches' light,
The slow procession moves; the solemn rite
Is chanted: through the aisles and arches dim,
At intervals, is heard the imploring hymn.[226]
Now all is still, that only you might hear— 60
(The tall and slender tapers burning clear,
Whose light Anselmo's palid brow illumes,
Now glances on the mailed soldier's plumes)
Hear, sounding far, only the iron tread,
That echoed through the cloisters of the dead.
Dark clouds are wandering o'er the heaven's wide way;
Now from the camp, at times, a horse's neigh
Breaks on the ear; and on the rampart height
The sentinel proclaims the middle watch of night.
By the dim taper's solitary ray, 70
Tired, in his tent, the sovereign soldier lay.[Pg 353]
Meantime, as shadowy dreams arise, he roams
'Mid bright pavilions and imperial domes,
Where terraces, and battlements, and towers,
Glisten in air o'er rich romantic bowers.
Sudden the visionary pomp is past;
The vacant court sounds to the moaning blast;
A dismal vault appears, where, with swoll'n eyes,
As starting from their orbs, a dead man lies.
It is Almagro's[227] corse!—roll on, ye drums, 80
Lo! where the great, the proud Pizarro comes!
Her gold, her richest gems, let Fortune strew
Before the mighty conqueror of Peru!
Ah, turn, and see a dagger in his hand—
With ghastly look—see the assassin stand!
Pizarro falls;[228]—he welters in his gore!
Lord of the western world, art thou no more!
Valdivia, hark!—it was another groan!
Another shadow comes, it is thy own!
Ah, bind not thus his arms!—give, give him breath! 90
Wipe from his bleeding brow those damps of death!
Valdivia, starting, woke. He is alone:
The taper in his tent yet dimly shone.
Lautaro, haste! he cried; Lautaro, save
Thy dying master! Ah! is this the brave,
The haughty victor? Hush, the dream is past!
The early trumpets ring the second blast!
Arm, arm! Ev'n now, the impatient charger neighs!
Again, from tent to tent the trumpet brays!
By torch-light, then, Valdivia gave command, 100
Haste, let Del Oro take a chosen band,
With watchful caution, on his fleetest steed,
A troop observant on the heights to lead.[Pg 354]
Now beautiful, beneath the heaven's gray arch,
Appeared the main battalion's moving march;
The banner of the cross was borne before,
And next, with aspect sad, and tresses hoar,
The holy man went thoughtfully and pressed
A crucifix, in silence, to his breast.
Valdivia, all in burnished steel arrayed, 110
Upon whose crest the morn's effulgence played,
Majestic reined his steed, and seemed alone,
Worthy the southern world's imperial throne.
His features through the barred casque that glow,
His pole-axe pendent from the saddle-bow;
His dazzling armour, and the glitter bright
Of his drawn sabre, in the orient light,
Speak him not, now, for knightly tournament
Arrayed, but on emprise of prowess bent,
And deeds of deadly strife. In blooming pride, 120
The attendant youth rode, pensive, by his side.
Their pennoned lances, waving in the wind,
Two hundred clanking horsemen tramped behind,
In iron harness clad. The bugles blew,
And high in air the sanguine ensigns flew.
The arbalasters next, with cross-bows slung,
Marched, whilst the plumed Moors their cymbals swung.
Auxiliar-Indians here, a various train.
With spears and bows, darkened the distant plain;
Drums rolled, and fifes re-echoed shrill and clear, 130
At intervals, as near and yet more near,
While flags and intermingled halberds shine,
The long battalion drew its passing line.
Last rolled the heavy guns, a sable tier,
By Indians drawn, with matchmen in the rear;
And many a straggling mule and sumpter-train
Closed the embattled order on the plain,[Pg 355]
Till nought beneath the azure sky appears
But the projecting points of scarce-discovered spears,
Slow up the hill, with floating vapours hoar, 140
Or by the blue lake's long retiring shore,
Now seen distinct, through the disparting haze,
The glittering file its bannered length displays;
Now winding from the woods, again appears
The moving line of matchlocks and of spears.
Part seen, part lost; the long illustrious march
Circling the swamp, now draws its various arch;
And seems, as on it moves, meandering slow,
A radiant segment of a living bow.
Five days the Spaniards, trooping in array, 150
O'er plains and headlands, held their eastern way.
On the sixth early dawn, with shuddering awe
And horror, in the last defile they saw
Ten pendent heads, from which the gore still run,
All gashed, and grim, and blackening in the sun.
These were the gallant troop that passed before,
The Indians' vast encampment to explore,
Led by Del Oro, now with many a wound
Pierced, and a headless trunk upon the ground.
The horses startled, as they tramped in blood; 160
The troops a moment half-recoiling stood.
But boots not now to pause, or to retire;
Valdivia's eye flashed with indignant fire:
Follow! he cried, brave comrades, to the hill!
And instant shouts the pealing valley fill.
And now, up to the hill's ascending crest,
With animated look and beating breast,
He urged his steed; when, wide beneath his eye,
He saw, in long expanse, Arauco's valley lie.
Far as the labouring sight could stretch its glance, 170
One undulating mass of club and lance,[Pg 356]
One animated surface seemed to fill
The many-stirring scene from hill to hill:
To the deep mass he pointed with his sword,
Banner, advance! give out "Castile!" the word.
Instant the files advance, the trumpets bray,
And now the host in terrible array,
Ranged on the heights that overlook the plain,
Has halted!
But the task were long and vain 180
To tell what nations, from the seas that roar
Round Patagonia's melancholy shore;
From forests, brown with everlasting shades;
From rocks of sunshine, white with prone cascades;
From snowy summits, where the Llama roams,
Oft bending o'er the cataract as it foams;
From streams whose bridges[229] tremble from the steep;
From lakes, in summer's sweetest light asleep;
Indians, of sullen brow and giant limb,
With clubs terrific, and with aspects grim, 190
Flocked fearless.
When they saw the Spanish line
Arrayed, and front to front, descending shine,
Burst, instant burst, the universal cry,
(Ten thousand spears uplifted to the sky)—
Tyrants, we come to conquer or to die!
Grim Mariantu led the Indian force
A-left; and, rushing to the foremost horse,
Hurled with unerring aim the involving thong,
Then fearless sprang amidst the mailed throng. 200
Valdivia saw the horse, entangled, reel,
And shouting, as he rode, Castile! Castile!
Led on the charge: like a descending flood,
It swept, till every spur was black with blood.[Pg 357]
His force a-right, where Harratomac led,
A thousand spears went hissing overhead,
And feathered arrows, of each varying hue,
In glancing arch, beneath the sunbeams flew.
Dire was the strife, when ardent Teucapel
Advancing in the front of carnage fell. 210
At once, Ongolmo, Elicura, rushed,
And swaying their huge clubs together, crushed
Horseman and horse; then bathed their hands in gore,
And limb from limb the panting carcase tore.
Caupolican, where the main battle bleeds,
Hosts and succeeding hosts undaunted leads,
Till, torn and shattered by the ceaseless fire,
Thousands, with gnashing teeth, and clenched spears, expire.
Pierced by a hundred wounds, Ongolmo lies,
And grasps his club terrific as he dies. 220
With breathless expectation, on the height,
Lautaro watched the long and dubious fight:
Pale and resigned the meek man stood, and pressed
More close the holy image to his breast.
Now nearer to the fight Lautaro drew,
When on the ground a warrior met his view,
Upon whose features memory seemed to trace
A faint resemblance of his father's face;
O'er him a horseman, with collected might,
Raised his uplifted sword, in act to smite, 230
When the youth springing on, without a word,
Snatched from a soldier's wearied grasp his sword,
And smote the horseman through the crest: a yell
Of triumph burst, as to the ground he fell.
Lautaro shouted, On! brave brothers, on!
Scatter them like the snow!—the day is won!
Lo, I! Lautaro,—Attacapac's son![Pg 358]
The Indians turn: again the battle bleeds,
Cleft are the helms and crushed the struggling steeds.
The bugle sounds, and faint with toil and heat, 240
Some straggling horsemen to the hills retreat.
Stand, brave companions! bold Valdivia cried,
And shook his sword, in recent carnage dyed;
Oh! droop not—droop not yet—all is not o'er—
Brave, faithful friends, one glorious sally more.
Where is Lautaro! leaps his willing sword
Now to avenge his long-indulgent lord!
He waited not for answer, but again
Spurred to the centre of the horrid plain.
Clubs, arrows, spears, the spot of death inclose, 250
And fainter now the Spanish shouts arose.
'Mid ghastly heaps of many a bleeding corse,
Lies the caparisoned and dying horse.
While still the rushing multitudes assail,
Vain is the fiery tube, the twisted mail!
The Spanish horsemen faint; long yells resound,
As the dragged ensign trails the gory ground:
Shout, for the chief is seized!—a thousand cries
Burst forth—Valdivia! for the sacrifice!
And lo, in silent dignity resigned, 260
The meek Anselmo, led in bonds, behind!
His hand upon his breast, young Zarinel
Amidst a group of mangled Indians fell;
The spear that to his heart a passage found
Left poor Olola's hair within the wound.
Now all is hushed, save where, at times, alone,
Deep midnight listens to a distant moan;
Save where the condors clamour, overhead,
And strike with sounding beaks the helmets of the dead.

[226] It may be necessary here to say, that whenever the Spaniards founded a city, after the immediate walls of defence, their first object was to build a church, and to have, with as much pomp as possible, the ecclesiastical services performed. Hence the cathedrals founded by them in America were of transcendent beauty and magnificence.

[227] Almagro, who first penetrated into Chili, was afterwards strangled.

[228] Pizarro was assassinated.

[229] Rude hanging bridges, constructed by the natives.[Pg 359]


CANTO EIGHTH.

ARGUMENT.

Indian festival for victory—Old Warrior brought in wounded—Recognises his long-lost son, and dies—Discovery—Conclusion with the Old Warrior's funeral, and prophetic oration by the Missionary.

The morn returns, and, reddening, seems to shed
One ray of glory on the patriot-dead.
Round the dark stone, the victor-chiefs behold!
Still on their locks the gouts of gore hang cold!
There stands the brave Caupolican, the pride
Of Chili, young Lautaro, by his side!
Near the grim circle, pendent from the wood,
Twelve hundred Spanish heads are dripping blood.
Shrill sound the notes of death: in festive dance,
The Indian maids with myrtle boughs advance; 10
The tinkling sea-shells on their ancles ring,
As, hailing thus the victor-youth, they sing:—
SONG OF INDIAN MAIDS.
Oh, shout for Lautaro, the young and the brave!
The arm of whose strength was uplifted to save,
When the steeds of the strangers came rushing amain,
And the ghosts of our fathers looked down on the slain!
'Twas eve, and the noise of the battle was o'er,
Five thousand brave warriors were cold in their gore;
When, in front, young Lautaro invincible stood,
And the horses and iron-men rolled in their blood!
As the snows of the mountain are swept by the blast,
The earthquake of death o'er the white men has passed;
Shout, Chili, in triumph! the battle is won,
And we dance round the heads that are black in the sun!
Lautaro, as if wrapt in thought profound,
Oft turned an anxious look inquiring round.[Pg 360]
He is not here!—Say, does my father live?
Ere eager voices could an answer give,
With faltering footsteps and declining head,
And slowly by an aged Indian led,
Wounded and weak the mountain chief appears:
Live, live! Lautaro cried, with bursting tears, 20
And fell upon his neck, and, kissing, pressed,
With folding arms, his gray hairs to his breast.
Oh, live! I am thy son—thy long-lost child!
The warrior raised his look, and faintly smiled;
Chili, my country, is avenged! he cried:
My son!—then sunk upon a shield—and died.
Lautaro knelt beside him, as he bowed,
And kissed his bleeding breast, and wept aloud.
The sounds of sadness through the circle ran,
When thus, with lifted axe, Caupolican: 30
What, for our fathers, brothers, children, slain,
Canst thou repay, ruthless, inhuman Spain?
Here, on the scene with recent slaughter red,
To sooth the spirits of the brave who bled,
Raise we, to-day, the war-feast of the dead.
Bring forth the chief in bonds! Fathers, to-day
Devote we to our gods the noblest prey!
Lautaro turned his eyes, and, gazing round,
Beheld Valdivia and Anselmo bound!
One stood in arms, as with a stern despair, 40
His helmet cleft in twain, his temples bare,
Where streaks of blood that dropped upon his mail,
Served but to show his face more deadly pale:
His eyebrows, dark and resolute, he bent,
And stood, composed, to wait the dire event.
Still on the cross his looks Anselmo cast,
As if all thought of this vain world was passed,
And in a world of light, without a shade,
Ev'n now his meek and guileless spirit strayed.[Pg 361]
Where stood the Spanish chief, a muttering sound 50
Rose, and each club was lifted from the ground;
When, starting from his father's corse, his sword
Waving before his once-triumphant lord,
Lautaro cried, My breast shall meet the blow:
But save—save him, to whom my life I owe!
Valdivia marked him with unmoving eye,
Then looked upon his bonds, nor deigned reply;
When Harratomac, stealing with slow pace,
And lifting high his iron-jagged mace,
Smote him to earth; a thousand voices rose, 60
Mingled with shouts and yells, So fall our foes!
Lautaro gave to tears a moment's space,
As black in death he marked Valdivia's face,
Then cried—Chiefs, friends, and thou, Caupolican,
Oh, spare this innocent and holy man!
He never sailed, rapacious, o'er the deep,
The gold of blood-polluted lands to heap;
He never gave the armed hosts his aid,
But meekly to the Mighty Spirit prayed,
That in all lands the sounds of woe might cease, 70
And brothers of the wide world dwell in peace!
The victor-youth saw generous sympathy
Already steal to every warrior's eye;
Then thus again: Oh, if this filial tear
Bear witness my own father was most dear;
If this uplifted arm, this bleeding steel
Speak for my country what I felt and feel;
If, at this hour, I meet her high applause,
While my heart beats still ardent in her cause;—
Hear, and forgive these tears that grateful flow, 80
Oh! hear, how much to this poor man I owe!
I was a child—when to my sire's abode,
In Chillan's vale, the armed horsemen rode:
Me, whilst my father cold and breathless lay,[Pg 362]
Far off the crested soldiers bore away,
And for a captive sold. No friend was near,
To mark a young and orphan stranger's tear!
This humble man, with kind parental care,
Snatched me from slavery—saved from dark despair;
And as my years increased, protected, fed, 90
And breathed a father's blessings on my head.
A Spanish maid was with him: need I speak?
Behold, affection's tear still wets my cheek!
Years, as they passed, matured in ripening grace
Her form unfolding, and her beauteous face:
She heard my orphan tale; she loved to hear,
And sometimes for my fortunes dropped a tear.
I could have bowed to direst ills resigned,
But wept at looks so sweet, at words so kind.
Valdivia saw me, now in blooming age, 100
And claimed me from the father as his page;
The chief too cherished me, yea, saved my life,
When in Peru arose the civil strife.
Yet still remembering her I loved so well,
Oft I returned to the gray father's cell:
His voice instructed me; recalled my youth
From rude idolatry to heavenly truth:
Of this hereafter; he my darkling mind
Cleared, and from low and sensual thoughts refined.
Then first, with feelings new impressed, I strove 110
To hide the tear of tenderness and love:
Amid the fairest maidens of Peru,
My eyes, my heart, one only object knew:
I lived that object's love and faith to share;
He saw, and blessed us with a father's prayer.
Here, at Valdivia's last and stern command,
I came, a stranger in my native land!
Anselmo (so him call—now most in need—
And standing here in bonds, for whom I plead)[Pg 363]
Came, by our chief so summoned, and for aid 120
To the Great Spirit of the Christians prayed:
Here as a son I loved him, but I left
A wife, a child, of my fond cares bereft,
Never to see again; for death awaits
My entrance now in Lima's jealous gates.
Caupolican, didst thou thy father love?
Did his last dying look affection move?
Pity this aged man; unbend thy brow:
He was my father—is my father, now!
Consenting mercy marks each warrior's mien. 130
But who is this, what pallid form is seen,
As crushed already by the fatal blow,
Bound, and with looks white as a wreath of snow,
Her hands upon her breast, scarce drawn her breath,
A Spanish woman knelt, expecting death,
Whilst, borne by a dark warrior at her side,
An infant shrunk from the red plumes, and cried!
Lautaro started:
Injured maid of Spain!
Me!—me! oh, take me to thine arms again! 140
She heard his voice, and, by the scene oppressed,
With one faint sigh fell senseless on his breast.
Caupolican, with warm emotion, cried,
Live, live! Lautaro and his beauteous bride!
Live, aged father!—and forthwith commands
A warrior to unbind Anselmo's hands.
She raised her head: his eyes first met her view,
As round Lautaro's neck her arms she threw,
Ah, no! she feebly spoke; it is not true!
It is some form of the distempered brain! 150
Then hid her face upon his breast again.
Dark flashing eyes, terrific, glared around:
Here, his brains scattered by the deadly wound,
The Spanish chief lay on the gory ground.[Pg 364]
With lowering brows, and mace yet drooping blood,
And clotted hair, there Mariantu stood.
Anselmo here, sad, yet in sorrow mild,
Appeared: she cried, A blessing on your child,
And knelt, as slow revived her waking sense,
And then, with looks aghast, Oh bear us hence! 160
Now all the assembled chiefs, assenting, cried,
Live, live! Lautaro and his beauteous bride!
With eager arms Lautaro snatched his boy,
And kissed him in an agony of joy;
Then to Anselmo gave, who strove to speak,
And felt the tear first burning on his cheek:
The infant held his neck with strict embrace,
And kissed his pale emaciated face.
From the dread scene, wet with Valdivia's gore,
His wan and trembling charge Lautaro bore. 170
There was a bank, where slept the summer-light,
A small stream whispering went in mazes bright,
And stealing from the sea, the western wind
Waved the magnolias on the slope inclined:
The woodpecker, in glittering plumage green,
And echoing bill, beneath the boughs was seen;
And, arched with gay and pendent flowers above,
The floripondio[230] its rich trellis wove.
Lautaro bent, with looks of love and joy,
O'er his yet trembling wife and beauteous boy: 180
Oh, by what miracle, beloved! say,
Hast thou escaped the perils of the way
From Lima, where our humble dwelling stood,
To these tumultuous scenes, this vale of blood?
Roused by his voice, as from the sleep of death,
Faint she replied, with slow-recovering breath,
Who shall express, when thou, best friend! wert gone,
How sunk my heart!—deserted and alone![Pg 365]
Would I were with thee! oft I sat and sighed,
When the pale moon shone on the silent tide— 190
At length resolved, I sought thee o'er the seas:
The brave bark cheer'ly went before the breeze,
That arms and soldiers to Valdivia bore,
From Lima bound to Chili's southern shore:
I seized the fair occasion—ocean smiled,
As to the sire I bore his lisping child.
The storm arose: with loud and sudden shock
The vessel sunk, disparting on a rock.
Some mariners, amidst the billows wild,
Scarce saved, in one small boat, me and my child. 200
What I have borne, a captive since that day—
Forgive these tears—I scarce have heart to say!
None pitied, save one gentle Indian maid—
A wild maid—of her looks I was afraid;
Her long black hair upon her shoulders fell,
And in her hand she bore a wreathed shell.
Lautaro for a moment turned aside,
And, Oh, my sister! with faint voice he cried.
Already free from sorrow and alarms,
I clasped in thought a husband in my arms, 210
When a dark warrior, stationed on the height,
Who held his solitary watch by night,
Before me stood, and lifting high his lance,
Exclaimed: No further, on thy life, advance!
Faint, wearied, sinking to the earth with dread,
Back to the dismal cave my steps he led.
Only at eve, within the craggy cleft,
Some water, and a cake of maize, were left.
The thirteenth sun unseen went down the sky;
When morning came, they brought me forth to die; 220
But hushed be every sigh, each boding fear,
Since all I sought on earth, and all I love, is here![Pg 366]
Her infant raised his hands, with glistening eye,
To reach a large and radiant butterfly,
That fluttered near his face; with looks of love,
And truth and tenderness, Lautaro strove
To calm her wounded heart; the holy sire,
His eyes faint-lighted with a transient fire,
Hung o'er them, and to Heaven his prayer addressed,
While, with uplifted hands, he wept and blest. 230
An aged Indian came, with feathers crowned,
And knelt before Lautaro on the ground.
What tidings, Indian?
INDIAN.
When I led thy sire,
Whom late thou saw'st upon his shield expire,
Son of our Ulmen, didst thou mark no trace,
In these sad looks, of a remembered face?
Dost thou remember Izdabel? Look here!
It is thy father's hatchet and his spear.
Friend of my infant days, how I rejoice, 240
Lautaro cried, once more to hear that voice!
Life like a dream, since last we met, has fled—
Oh, my beloved sister, thou art dead!
INDIAN.
I come to guide thee through untrodden ways,
To the lone valley, where thy father's days
Were passed; where every cave and every tree,
From morn to morn, reminded him of thee!
Lautaro cried: Here, faithful Indian, stay;
I have a last sad duty yet to pay.
A little while we part:—thou here remain. 250
He spake, and passed like lightning o'er the plain.
Ah, cease, Castilian maid, thy vain alarms!
See where he comes—his father in his arms![Pg 367]
Now lead, he cried. The Indian, sad and still,
Paced on from wood to vale, from vale to hill;
Her infant tired, and hushed a while to rest,
Smiled, in a dream, upon its mother's breast;
The pensive mother gray Anselmo led;
Behind, Lautaro bore his father dead.
Beneath the branching palms they slept at night; 260
The small birds waked them ere the morning light.
Before their path, in distant view, appeared
The mountain-smoke, that its dark column reared
O'er Andes' summits, in the pale blue sky,
Lifting their icy pinnacles so high.
Four days they onward held their eastern way;
On the fifth rising morn, before them lay
Chillan's lone glen, amid whose windings green,
The Warrior's loved and last abode was seen.
No smoke went up, a stillness reigned around, 270
Save where the waters fell with soothing sound,
Save where the Thenca sang so loud and clear,
And the bright humming-bird was spinning near.
Yet here all human tumults seemed to cease,
And sunshine rested on the spot of peace;
The myrtles bloomed as fragrant and as green
As if Lautaro scarce had left the scene;
And in his ear the falling waters' spray
Seemed swelling with the sounds of yesterday.
Where yonder rock the aged cedars shade, 280
There shall my father's bones in peace be laid.
Beneath the cedar's shade they dug the ground;
The small and sad communion gathered round.
Beside the grave stood aged Izdabel,
And broke the spear, and cried: Farewell, farewell!
Lautaro hid his face, and sighed Adieu!
As the stone hatchet in the grave he threw.[Pg 368]
The little child that to its mother clung,
Stretched out its arm, then on her garment hung,
With sidelong looks, half-shrinking, half-amazed, 290
And dropped its flowers, unconscious, as it gazed.
And now Anselmo, his pale brow inclined,
The honoured relics, dust to dust, consigned
With Christian rites, and sung, on bending knee,
"Eternam pacem dona, Domine."
Then rising up he closed the holy book;
And lifting in the beam his lighted look,
(The cross, with meekness, folded on his breast),
Here, too, he cried, my bones in peace shall rest!
Few years remain to me, and never more 300
Shall I behold, O Spain! thy distant shore!
Here lay my bones, that the same tree may wave
O'er the poor Christian's and the Indian's grave.
Oh, may it (when the sons of future days
Shall hear our tale and on the hillock gaze),
Oh, may it teach, that charity should bind,
Where'er they roam, the brothers of mankind!
The time shall come, when wildest tribes shall hear
Thy voice, O Christ! and drop the slaughtering spear.
Yet we condemn not him who bravely stood, 310
To seal his country's freedom with his blood;
And if, in after-times, a ruthless band
Of fell invaders sweep my native land,
May she, by Chili's stern example led,
Hurl back his thunder on the assailant's head;
Sustained by Freedom, strike the avenging blow,
And learn one virtue from her ancient foe!

[230] One of the most beautiful of the beautiful climbing plants of South America.


END OF VOLUME I.


EDINBURGH: BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY, PRINTERS.





Transcriber's notes: The following were corrected in text as shown. They are indicated with light dotted underline and pop up on cursor hover.

Pg iv: Alverstock => Alverstoke.

Pg 26: mumuring => murmuring

Pg 86: seene => scene

Pg 100: TRANSATION => TRANSLATION

Pg 152: fell => feel

Pg 206: gallopped => galloped

Pg 230: diffculty => difficulty

Pg 307: Guecuba => Guecubu to match text reference.

Pg 354: arbalaster is probably a variation or arbalester or arbalister: a cross-bowman.

Pg 357: Lautora => Lautaro to be consistent with earlier use.

A few words are hyphenated inconsistently. They are listed here, but remain unchanged.

eventideeven-tide
eyeballseye-balls
eyelidseye-lids
footfallfoot-fall
heartbrokenheart-broken
hedgerowshedge-rows
outstretchedout-stretched
Produced by richyfourtytwo, Leonard Johnson and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net