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Life (priest and poet say) is but a dream;
I wish no happier one than to be laid
Beneath some cool syringa's scented shade ;
Or wavy willow, by the running stream,
Brimful of moral, where the Dragon-fly
Wanders as careless and content as I.
Thanks for this fancy, insect king,
Of purple crest and meshy wing,
Who, with indifference, givest up
The water-lily's golden cup,
To come again and overlook
What I am writing in my book.
Believe me, most who read the line
Will read with hornier eyes than thine ;
And yet their souls shall live for ever,
And thine drop dead into the river !
God pardɔn them, O insect king,
Who fancy so unjust a thing!
While the winds whistle round my cheerless room,
And the pale morning droops with winter's gloom ;
While indistinct lie rude and cultured lands,
The ripening harvest and the hoary sands :
Alone, and destitute of every page
That fires the poet, or informs the sage,
Where shall my wishes, where my fancy rove,
Rest upon past or cherish promised love?
Alas! the past I never can regain,
Wishes may rise, and tears may flow in vain.
Fancy, that shews her in her early bloom,
Throws barren sunshine o'er the unyielding tomb.
What then would passion, what would reason do ?
Sure, to retrace is worse than to pursue.
Here will I sit, 'till heaven shall cease to lour,
And happier Hesper bring the appointed hour :
Gaze on the mingled waste of sky and sea,
Herk, where precipitate Spring with one light bound
Into hot Summer's lusty arms expires;
And where go forth at morn, at eve, at night,
Soft airs, that want the lute to play with them,
And softer sighs, that know not what they want;
Under a wall, beneath an orange-tree
Whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones
Of sights in Fiesole right up above,
While I was gazing a few paces off
At what they seemed to show me with their nods,
Their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots,
A gentle maid came down the garden steps,
And gathered the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stept forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,
(Such I believed it must be); for sweet scents
Are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts,
And nurse and pillow the dull memory
That would let drop without them her best stores.
They bring me tales of youth and tones of love,
And 'tis and ever was my wish and way
To let all flowers live freely, and all die,
Whene'er their genius bids their souls depart,
Among their kindred in their native place.
I never pluck the rose; the violet's head
Hath shaken with my breath upon its bank
And not reproacht me; the ever sacred cup
Of the pure lily hath between my hands
Felt safe, unsoil'd, nor lost one grain of gold.
I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek
Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit;
I saw the foot, that, although half erect
From its grey slipper, could not lift her up
To what she wanted : I held down a branch
And gather'd her some blossoms, since their hour
Was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies
Of harder wing were working their way through
And scattering them in fragments under foot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,
For such appear the petals when detach'd,
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen through, by eye or sun :
Yet every one her gown received from me
Was fairer than the first—I thought not so,
But so she praised them to reward my care.
I said: “You find the largest.”
“This indeed,” Cried she, “is large and sweet.”
She held one forth, Whether for me to look at or to take She knew not, nor did I; but taking it Would best have solved (and this she felt) her doubts. I dared not touch it; for it seemed a part Of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature Of blossoms, yet a blossom ; with a touch To fall, and yet unfallen.
She drew back
The boon she tendered, and then, finding not
The ribbon at her waist to fix it in,
Dropt it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.
I lovEd him not; and yet, now he is gone,
I feel I am alone.
I check'd him while he spoke; yet, could he speak,
Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him : I now would give
My love could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and, when he found
'Twas vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death !
I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me ! but mine returns,
And this lorn bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years Wept he as bitter tears! “Merciful God!” such was his latest prayer, “These may she never share " Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold Than daisies in the mould, Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate, His name and life's brief date. Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be, And, oh! pray, too, for me !
QUEEN of the double sea, beloved of him
Who shakes the world's foundations, thou hast seen
Glory in all her beauty, all her forms;
Seen her walk back with Theseus when he left
The bones of Sciron bleaching to the wind,
Above the ocean's roar and cormorant's flight,
So high that vastest billows from above
Shew but like herbage waving in the mead;
Seen generations throng thy Isthmian games,
And pass away—the beautiful, the brave,
And them who sang their praises.
But, O Queen,
Audible still, and far beyond thy cliffs,
As when they first were uttered, are those words
Divine which praised the valiant and the just;
And tears have often stopt, upon that ridge
So perilous, him who brought before his eye
The Colchian babes.
“Stay! spare him save the last! Medea —is that blood 2 again it drops From my imploring hand upon my feet;I will invoke the Eumenides no more. I will forgive thee—bless thee—bend to thee In all thy wishes—do but thou, Medea, Tell me, one lives.”
“And shall I too deceive *" Cries from the fiery car an angry voice; And swifter than two falling stars descend Two breathless bodies—warm, soft, motionless, As flowers in stillest noon before the sun, They lie three paces from him—such they lie As when he left them sleeping side by side, A mother's arm round each, a mother's cheeks Between them, flushed with happiness and love. He was more changed than they were—doomed to shew Thee and the stranger, how defaced and scarred Grief hunts us down the precipice of years, And whom the faithless prey upon the last.
To give the inertest masses of our earth Her loveliest forms was thine, to fix the gods Within thy walls, and hang their tripods round With fruits and foliage knowing not decay. A nobler work remains: thy citadel Invites all Greece; o'er lands and floods remote Many are the hearts that still beat high for thee: Confide then in thy strength, and unappalled Look down upon the plain, while yokemate kings Run bellowing, where their herdsmen goad them on ; Instinct is sharp in them, and terror true— They smell the floor whereon their necks must lie.
My briar that smelledst sweet,
When gentle spring's first heat
Ran through thy quiet veins;
Thou that couldst injure none,
But wouldst be left alone,
Alone thou leavest me, and nought of thine remains.
What! hath no poet's lyre
O'er thee, sweet breathing briar,
Hung fondly, ill or well ?
And yet, methinks with thee,
A poet's sympathy,