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I could unsay those—no, impossible !
For sweet relief I’ll dwell On humbler thoughts, and let this strange assay Begun in gentleness die so away. E’en now all tumult from my bosom fades: I turn full hearted to the friendly aids That smooth the path of honour; brotherhood, And friendliness the nurse of mutual good. The hearty grasp that sends a pleasant sonnet Into the brain ere one can think upon it; The silence when some rhymes are coming out ; And when they're come, the very pleasant rout: The message certain to be done to-morrow. 'Tis perhaps as well that it should be to borrow Some precious book from out its Snug retreat, To cluster round it when we next shall meet. Scarce can I scribble on ; for lovely airs Are fluttering round the room like doves in pairs; Many delights of that glad day recalling, When first my senses caught their tender falling. And with these airs come forms of elegance Stooping their shoulders o'er a horse's prance, Careless, and grand—fingers soft and round Parting luxuriant curls;–and the swift bound Of Bacchus from his chariot, when his eye Made Ariadne's cheek look blushingly. Thus I remember all the pleasant flow Of words at opening a portfolio.
Things such as these are ever harbingers
I partly owe to him : and thus, the chimes
Sappho's meek head was there half smiling down
Great Alfred's too, with anxious, pitying eyes,
Petrarch, outstepping from the shady green,
KNowING within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.
What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they if I thought a year's castigation would do them any good;—it will not: the foundations are too sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.
This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honour of English literature.
The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted : thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.
I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece, and dulled its brightness: for I wish to try once more, before I bid it farewel.
Teignmouth, April 10, 1818.