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Two sister rocks with waters swift and strong,
And casts itself with horrid roar and din
Adown a steep; from a perennial source
It ever flows and falls, and breaks the air
With loud and fierce but most harmonious roar,
And as it falls casts up a vaporous spray
Which the sun clothes in hues of Iris light.
Thus the tempestuous torrent of his grief
Is clothed in sweetest sounds and varying words
Of poesy. Unlike all human works,
It never slackens, and through every change
Wisdom and beauty and a power divine
And mighty poesy together dwell,
Mingling in sweet accord. As I have seen
A fierce South Blast tear through the darkened sky,
Driving along a rack of winged Clouds,
Which may not pause, but ever hurry on
As their wild Shepherd wills them, while the Stars,
Twinkling and dim, peep from between the plumes:
Anon the sky is cleared, and the high dome
Of serene heaven, starred with fiery flowers,
Shuts-in the shaken earth, or the still Moon
Swiftly yet gracefully begins her walk,
Rising all bright behind the eastern hills.
I talk of moon and wind and stars, and not
Of song; but, would I echo his high song,
Nature must lend me words ne'er used before,
Or I must borrow from her perfect works
To picture forth its perfect attributes.
He does no longer sit upon his throne
Of rock upon a desert herbless plain;
For the evergreen and knotted ilexes,
And cypresses who seldom wave their boughs,
And sea-green olives with their grateful fruit,
And elms dragging along the twisted vines
Which drop their berries as they follow fast,
And blackthorn bushes with their infant race
Of blushing rose-blooms, beeches to lovers dear,
And weeping willow-trees,--all swift or slow
As their huge boughs or lighter dress permit-
Have circled-in his throne; and Earth herself
Has sent from her maternal breast a growth
Of starlike flowers and herbs of odours sweet,
To pave the temple that his poesy
Has framed, while near his feet grim lions couch,
And kids, fearless from love, creep near his lair.
Even the blind worms seem to feel the sound.
The birds are silent, hanging down their heads,
Perched on the lowest branches of the trees:
Not even the nightingale intrudes a note
In rivalry, but all entranced she listens.
TO HIS GENIUS.
HERE, my dear friend, is a new book for you.
I have already dedicated two
To other friends, one female and one male.
What you are is a thing that I must veil;
What can this be to those who praise or rail?
Free love has this, different from gold and clay,
That to divide is not to take away :-
Like ocean, which the general north wind breaks
Into ten thousand waves, and each one makes
A mirror of the moon, like some great glass,
Which did distort whatever form might pass,
Dashed into fragments by a playful child,
Which then reflects its eyes and forehead mild, -
Giving for one, which it could ne'er express,
A thousand images of loveliness.
If I were one whom the loud world held wise,
I should disdain to quote authorities
In commendation of this kind of love.
Why, there is first the God in heaven above,
Who wrote a book called Nature ('tis to be
Reviewed, I hear, in the next Quarterly),
And Socrates, the Jesus Christ of Greece ;
And Jesus Christ himself did never cease
To urge all living things to love each other,
And to forgive their mutual faults, and smother
The devil of disunion in their souls.
I love you!-Listen, O embodied Ray
Of the great Brightness; I must pass away
While you remain, and these light words must be
Tokens by which you may remember me.
Start not--the thing you are is unbetrayed,
If you are human, and if but the shade
Of some sublimer Spirit.
And as to friend or mistress, 'tis a form;
Perhaps I wish you were one. Some declare
You a familiar spirit, as you are ;
Others, with a . . . more inhuman,
Hint that, though not my wife, you are a woman,-
“What is the colour of your eyes and hair?"
Why, if you were a lady, it were fair
The world should know—but, as I am afraid,
The Quarterly would bait you if betrayed;
And if, as it will be sport to see them stumble
Over all sorts of scandals, hear them mumble
Their litany of curses . . . Some guess right;
And others swear you're a Hermaphrodite,
Like that sweet marble monster of both sexes,
With looks so sweet and gentle that it vexes
The very soul that the soul is gone
Which lifted from her limbs the veil of stone.
It is a sweet thing, friendship; a dear balm,
A happy and auspicious bird of calm
Which rides o'er life's ever tumultuous ocean,
A God that broods o'er chaos in commotion,
A flower which, fresh as Lapland roses are,
Lifts its bold head into the world's frore air,
And blooms most radiantly when others die-
Health, hope, and youth, and brief prosperity-
And with the light and odour of its bloom
Shining within the dungeon and the tomb.
If I had but a friend! Why, I have three,
Even by my own confession! There may be VOL. II.
Some more, for what I know; for ’tis my mind
To call my friends all who are wise and kind, -
And these, Heaven knows, at best are very few.
But none can ever be more dear than you,
Why should they be? My Muse has lost her wings;
Or, like a dying swan who soars and sings,
I should describe you in heroic style.
But, as it is, are you not void of guile?
A lovely soul, formed to be blessed and bless;
A well of sealed and secret happiness;
A lute which those whom Love has taught to play
Make music on to cheer the roughest day,
And enchant sadness till it sleeps?
To the oblivion whither I and thou,
All loving and all lovely, hasten now
With steps ah too unequal! May we meet
In one Elysium or one winding-sheet!
If any should be curious to discover
Whether to you I am a friend or lover,
Let them read Shakspeare's sonnets, taking thence
A whetstone for their dull intelligence
That tears and will not cut; or let them guess
How Diotima, the wise prophetess,
Instructed the instructor, and why he
Rebuked the infant spirit of melody
On Agathon's sweet lips, which, as he spoke,
Was as the lovely star when morn has broke
The roof of darkness, in the golden dawn
Half-hidden and yet beautiful.
My hopes of heaven-you know what they are worth-
That the presumptuous pedagogues of earth,
If they could tell the riddle offered here,
Would scorn to be, or, being, to appear,
What now they seem and are. But let them chide!
They have few pleasures in the world beside.
Perhaps we should be dull were we not chidden;
Paradise fruits are sweetest when forbidden,-
Folly can season wisdom, hatred love.
Farewell, if it can be to say farewell
To those who-
I will not, as most dedicators do,
Assure myself and all the world and you
That you are faultless. Would to God they were
Who taunt me with your love! (I then should wear
These heavy chains of life with a light spirit)
And would to God I were, or even as near it
As you, dear heart! Alas! what are we? Clouds
Driven by the wind in warring multitudes;
Which rain into the bosom of the earth,
And rise again, and in our death and birth,
And through our restless life, take as from heaven
Hues which are not our own, but which are given,
And then withdrawn, and with inconstant glance
Flash from the spirit to the countenance.
There is a Power, a Love, a Joy, a God,
Which makes in mortal hearts its brief abode;
A Pythian exhalation, which inspires
Love, only love; a wind which o'er the wires
Of the soul's giant harp. ...
There is a mood which language faints beneath ;
You feel it striding, as almighty Death
His bloodless steed. 1820.
The season was the childhood of sweet June,
Whose sunny hours from morning until noon
Went creeping through the day with silent feet,
Each with its load of pleasure, slow yet sweet;
Like the long years of blessed eternity,
Never to be developed. Joy to thee,
Fiordispina, and thy Cosimo!
For thou the wonders of the depth canst know
Of this unfathomable flood of hours,
Sparkling beneath the heaven which embowers
They were two cousins, almost like two twins,
Except that from the catalogue of sins