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THERE came a bard to Rome; he brought a lyre
Of sounds to peal through Rome's triumphant sky,
To mourn a hero on his funeral pyre,
Or greet a conqueror with its war-notes high;
For on each chord had fallen the gift of fire,
The living breath of Power and Victory-
Yet he, its lord, the sovereign city's guest,
Sigh'd but to flee away, and be at rest.
He brought a spirit whose ethereal birth
Was of the loftiest, and whose haunts had been
Amidst the marvels and the pomps of earth,
Wild fairy-bowers, and groves of deathless green,
And fields, where mail-clad bosoms prove their
When flashing swords light up the stormy scene-
He brought a weary heart, a wasted frame,-
The Child of Visions from a dungeon came.
On the blue waters, as in joy they sweep,
With starlight floating o’er their swells and falls,
On the blue waters of the Adrian deep,
His numbers had been sung--and in the halls,
Where, through rich foliage if a sunbeam peep,
It seems Heaven's wakening to the sculptur'd walls,—
Had princes listen’d to those lofty strains,
While the high soul they burst from, pined in chains.
And in the summer-gardens, where the spray
Of founts, far-glancing from their marble bed,
Rains on the flowering myrtles in its play,
And the sweet limes, and glassy leaves that spread
Round the deep golden citrons-o'er his lay
Dark eyes, dark, soft, Italian eyes had shed
Warm tears, fast-glittering in that sun, whose light
Was a forbidden glory to his sight.
Oh! if it be that wizard sign and spell,
And talisman had power of old to bind,
In the dark chambers of some cavern-cell,
Or knotted oak, the spirits of the wind,
Things of the lightning-pinion, wont to dwell
High o'er the reach of eagles, and to find
Joy in the rush of storms—even such a doom
Was that high minstrel's in his dungeon-gloom.
But he was free at last !-the glorious land
Of the white Alps and pine-crown'd Apennines,
Along whose shore the sapphire seas expand,
And the wastes teem with myrtle, and the shrines
Of long-forgotten gods from Nature's hand
Receive bright offerings still ; with all its vines,
And rocks, and ruins, clear before him lay-
The seal was taken from the founts of day.
The winds came o'er his cheek; the soft winds,
blending All summer-sounds and odours in their sigh; The orange-groves waved round; the hills were
sending Their bright streams down; the free birds darting by, And the blue festal heavens above him bending, As if to fold a world where none could die ! And who was he that look'd upon these things ? -If but of earth, yet one whose thoughts were wings
To bear him o'er creation! and whose mind
Was as an air-harp, wakening to the sway
Of sunny Nature's breathings unconfined,
With all the mystic harmonies that lay
Far in the slumber of its chords enshrined,
Till the light breeze went thrilling on its way.
- There was no sound that wander'd through the
But told him secrets in its melody.
Was the deep forest lonely unto him
With all its whispering leaves ? Each dell and glade
Teem'd with such forms as on the moss-clad brim
Of fountains, in their sparry grottoes, play'd,
Seen by the Greek of yore through twilight dim,
Or misty noontide in the laurel-shade.
--There is no solitude on earth so deep
As that where man decrees that man should weep!
But oh! the life in Nature's green domains,
The breathing sense of joy! where flowers are
springing By starry thousands, on the slopes and plains, And the grey rocks—and all the arch'd woods ring
ing, And the young branches trembling to the strains Of wild-born creatures, through the sunshine winging Their fearless flight-and sylvan echoes round, Mingling all tones to one Eolian sound;
And the glad voice, the laughing voice of streams,
And the low cadence of the silvery sea,
And reed-notes from the mountains, and the beams
Of the warm sun-all these are for the free!
And they were his once more, the bard, whose
Their spirit still had haunted.—Could it be
That he had borne the chain ?-oh! who shall dare
To say how much man's heart uncrush'd may bear?
So deep a root hath hope !--but woe for this,
Our frail mortality, that aught so bright,
So almost burthen'd with excess of bliss,
As the rich hour which back to summer's light
Calls the worn captive, with the gentle kiss
Of winds, and gush of waters, and the sight
Of the green earth, must so be bought with years
Of the heart's fever, parching up its tears ;
And feeding a slow fire on all its powers,
Until the boon for which we gasp in vain,
If hardly won at length, too late made ours
When the soul's wing is broken, comes like rain
Withheld till evening, on the stately flowers
Which witherd in the noontide, ne'er again
To lift their heads in glory.-So doth Earth
Breathe on her gifts, and melt away their worth.
The sailor dies in sight of that green shore,
Whose fields, in slumbering beauty, seem'd to lie
On the deep's foam, amidst its hollow roar
Call’d up to sunlight by his fantasy-
And, when the shining desert-mists that wore
The lake's bright semblance, have been all pass'd by,
The pilgrim sinks beside the fountain-wave,
Which flashes from its rock, too late to save.
Or if we live, if that, too dearly bought,
And made too precious by long hopes and fears,
Remains our own--love, darken’d and o'erwrought
By memory of privation, love, which wears
And casts o'er life a troubled hue of thought,
Becomes the shadow of our closing years, , Making it almost misery to possess
Aught, watch'd with such unquiet tenderness.
Such unto him, the bard, the worn and wild,
And sick with hope deferr'd, from whom the sky;