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O that the free would stomp the impious name
Of * * * * into the dust; or write it there, So that this blot upon the page of fame
Were as a serpent's path, which the light air Erases, and the hat sands close behind! Ye the oracle have heard: Lift the victory-flashing sword, And cut the snaky knots of this foul gordian word, Which, weak itself as stubble, yet can bind
Into a mass, irrefragably firm, The axes and the rods which awe mankind; The sound has poison in it, 'tis the sperm Of what makes life foul, cankerous, and abhorred; Disdain not thou, at thine appointed term, To set thine armed heel on this reluctant worm.
O that the wise from their bright mindswould kindle
He who taught man to vanquish whatsoever
If on his own high will a willing slave,
Diving on fiery wings to Nature's throne,
Checks the great mother stooping to caress her,
And cries, give me, thy child, dominion
Overall height and depth '. if Life can breed [groan,
New wants, and wealth from those who toil and
Rend of thy gifts and hers a thousandfol d for one.
Come thou, but lead out of the inmost cavo
Wisdom. I hear the pennons of her car
Of what has been, the Hope of what will be! O, Liberty ! if such could be thy name
Wert thou disjoined from these, or they from I f thine or theirs were treasures to be bought [thee: By blood or tears, have not the wise and free Wept tears, and blood like tears! The solemn harmony
Paused, and the spirit of that mighty singing
To its abyss was suddenly withdrawn; Then as a wild swan, when sublimely winging
Its path athwart the thunder-smoke of dawn, Sinks headlong through the aerial golden light On the heavy sounding plain, When the bolt has pierced its brain; As summer clouds dissolve unburthened of their As a far taper fades with fading night; [rain;
As a brief insect dies with dying day, My song, its pinions disarrayed of might,
Drooped; o'er it closed the echoes far away Of the great voice which did its flight sustain, As waves which lately paved his watery way Uissroundadrowner's head in their tempestuous play.
From her couch of snows
In the Acroceraunian mountains,—
Shepherding her bright fountains.
Streaming among the streams ;—
Which slopes to the western gleams:
In murmurs as soft as sleep;
The Earth seemed to love her,
As she lingered towards the deep.
Then Alpheus bold,
On his glacier cold, With his trident the mountains strook;
And opened a chasm
In the rocks;—with the spasm All Erymanthus shook.
And the black south wind
It concealed behind The urns of the silent snow,
And earthquake and thunder
Did rend in sunder
The beard and the hair
Of the river God were
As he followed the light
Of the fleet nymph's flight To the brink of the Dorian deep.
"Oh, save me! Oh, guide me I
For he grasps me now by the hair!"
And divided at her prayer;
Fled like a sunny beam;
Behind her descended
Her billowB, unblended With the brackish Dorian stream:
Like a gloomy stain
On the emerald main Alpheus rushed behind,—
As an eagle pursuing
A dove to its ruin
Under the bowers
Sit on their pearled thrones:
Through the coral woods
Over heaps of unvalued stones;
Weave a net-work of coloured light;
Are as green as the forest's night:—
Under the ocean foam,
And up through the rifts
They passed to their Dorian home.
And now from their fountains
In Enna's mountains, Down one vale where the morning basks,
Like friends once parted
Grown single-hearted, They ply their watery tasks.
At sunrise they leap
From their cradles steep In the cave of the shelving hill;
At noon-tide they flow
Through the woods below And the meadows of Asphodel;
And at night they sleep
In the rocking deep Beneath the Ortygian shore ;—
Like spirits that lie
In the azure sky
SONG OF PROSERPINE,
WDILE GATHERING FLOWEBS ON THE PLAIN OF ENNA.
Sacked Goddess, Mother Earth,
Gods, and men, and beasts have birth,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.
If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow, in scent and hue,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.
HYMN OF APOLLO.
The sleepless Hours who watch me as I lie,
From the broad moonlight of the sky,
Waken me when their Mother, the grey Dawn,
Tolls them that dreams and that the moon is gone.
Then I arise, and climbing Heaven's blue dome,
Leaving my robe upon the ocean foam;
Are filled with my bright presence, and the air
Leaves the green earth to my embraces bare.
The sunbeams are my shafts, with which I kill
All men who do or even imagine ill
Good minds and open actions take new might,
Until diminished by the reign of night
I feed the clouds, the rainbows, and the flowers,
And the pure stars in their eternal bowers
Whatever lamps on Earth or Heaven may shine
Are portions of one power, which is mine.
I stand at noon upon the peak of Heaven,
Into the clouds of the Atlantic even;
What look is more delightful than the smile
With which I soothe them from the western isle!
I am the eye with which the Universe
All harmony of instrument or verse,
All light of art or nature ;—to my song
Victory and praise in their own right belong.
HYMN OF PAN.
From the forests and highlands
We come, we come; From the river-girt islands,
Where loud waves are dumb
The bees on the bells of thyme,
Liquid Peneus was flowing,
And all dark Tempo lay
The light of the dying day,
• This and tho former poem were written at the request of a friend, to be inserted in a drama on the subject of Midas. Apollo and Pan contended before Tmolus fur the prixe in music.
Speeded with my sweet pipings. The Sileni, and Sylvans, and Fauns,
And the Nymphs of the woods and waves, To the edge of the moist river-lawns,
And the brink of the dewy caves,
I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the diedal Earth,
1 pursued a maiden and clasped a reed: Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
It breaks in our bosom and then we bleed: AU wept, as I think both ye now would, I f envy or age had not frozen your blood, At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.
I Dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kissed it and then fled, as thoumightest in dream.
There grew pied wind-flowers and violets,
Daisies, those pearled Arcturi of the earth, The constellated flower that never sets;
Faint oxlips ; tender blue bells, at whose birth The sod scarce heaved ; and that tall flower that I ts mother's face with heaven-collected teal's, [wets When the low wind, its playmate's voice, it hears.
And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine, Green cow-bind and the moonlight-coloured May,
And cherry blossoms, and white cups, whose wine Was the bright dew yet drained not by the day;
And wild roses, and ivy serpentine,
With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray;
And flowers azure, black, and streaked with gold,
Fairer than any wakened eyes behold.
And nearer to the river's trembling edge
And starry river buds among the sedge, [white,
Which lit the oak that overhung the hedge
With moonlight beams of their own watery light;
And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green
As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.
Methought that of these visionary flowers
That the same hues, which in their natural bowers
Kept these imprisoned children of the Hours
I hastened to the spot whence I had come,
That I might there present it !—Oh! to whom I
THE TWO SPIRITS.
0 Thou, who plumed with strong desire
A shadow tracks thy flight of fire-
Bright are the regions of the air,
It were delight to wander there—
The deathless stars are bright above:
If I would cross the shade at night,
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day!
On my golden plumes where'er they move;
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Night is coming!
1 see the light, and I hear the sound;
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark, With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day: And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound, My moonlight flight thou then may'st mark On high, far away.
Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
'Mid Alpine mountains;
That winged shape, for ever flies
Some say when nights are dry and clear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass, Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
Which make night day: And a silver shape like his early love doth pass
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair, And when he awakes on the fragrant grass, He finds night day.
TO MARIA GISBORNE.
Leghorn, July 1, 1820.
The spider spreads her webs, whether Bhe be
In poet's tower, cellar, or barn, or tree;
The silkworm in the dark-green mulberry leaTea
His winding-sheet and cradle ever weaves 1
So I, a thing whom moralists call worm,
Sit spinning still round this decaying form,
From the fine threads of rare and subtle thought—
No net of words in garish colours wrought,
To catch the idle buzzers of the day—
But a soft cell, where, when that fades away,
Memory may clothe in wings my living name
And feed it with the asphodels of fame,
Which in those hearts which most remember me
Grow, making love an immortality.
Whoever should behold me now, I wist,
Would think I were a mighty mechanist,
Bent with sublime Archimedean art
To breathe a soul into the iron heart
Of some machine portentous, or strange gin,
Which by the force of figured spells might win
Its way over the sea, and sport therein;
For round the walls are hung dread engines, such
As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to clutch
Ixion or the Titan :—or the quick
Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,
To convince Atheist, Turk, or Heretic;
Or those in philosophic councils met,
Who thought to pay some interest for the debt
They owed to Jesus Christ for their salvation,
By giving a faint foretaste of damnation
To Shakspearc, Sidney, Spenser, and the rest
Who made our land an island of the blest.
When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes her fire
On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with Empire :—
With thumb-screws, wheels, with tooth and spike
and jag, With fishes found under the utmost crag Of Cornwall, and the storm-encompassed isles, Where to the sky the rude sea seldom smiles Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the morn When the exulting elements in scorn Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay Sleeping in beauty on their mangled prey, As panthers sleep :—and other strange and dread Magical forms the brick-floor overspread— Proteus transformed to metal did not mako More figures, or more strange ; nor did he take Such shapes of unintelligible brass, Or heap himself in such a horrid mass Of tin and iron not to be understood, And forms of unimaginable wood, To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his brood: Great screws, and cones, and wheels, and grooved
blocks, The elements of what will stand the shocks Of wave and wind and time.—Upon the table More knacks and quips there be than I am able To cataloguise in this verse of mine :— A pretty bowl of wood—not full of wine, But quicksilver; that dew which the gnomes drink When at their subterranean toil they swink,
Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who
And here like some weird Archimage sit I,
Plotting dark spells, and devilish enginery,
The self impelling steam-wheels of the mind
Which pump up oaths from clergymen, and grin!
The gentle Bpirit of our meek reviews
Into a powdery foam of salt abuse,
Ruffling the ocean of their self-content:—
I sit—and smile or sigh as is my bent,
But not for them—Libeccio rushes round
With an inconstant and an idle sound,
I heed him more than them—the thunder-smoke
Is gathering on the mountains, like a cloak
Folded athwart their shoulders broad and" bare;
The ripe corn under the undulating air
Undulates like an ocean ;—and the vines
Are trembling wide in all their trellised lines ;—
The murmur of the awakening sea doth fill
The empty pauses of the blast;—the hill
Looks hoary through the white electric rain,
And from the glens beyond, in sullen strain
The interrupted thunder howls ; above
Une chasm of heaven smiles, like the eye of love
Ou the unquiet world ;—while such things are, How could one worth your friendship heed the war Of worms! The shriek of the world's carrion
Their censure, or their wonder, or their praise?
You are not here! The quaint witch Memory sees
In vacant chairs your absent images,
And points where once you sat, and now should be,!
But are not I demand if ever we
Shall meet as then we met;—and she replies,
Veiling in awe her second-sighted eyes,
'■ I know the past alone—but summon home
My sister Hope, she speaks of all to come."
But I, an old diviner, who know well
Every false verse of that sweet oracle,
Turned to the sad enchantress once again,
And sought a respite from my gentle pain,
I n acting every passage o'er and o'er
Of our communion.—How on the sea shore
We watched the ocean and the sky together,
Under the roof of blue Italian weather;
How I ran home through last year's thunder-storm,
And felt the transverse lightning linger warm
Upon my cheek: and how we often made
Treats for each other, where good will outweighed
The frugal luxury of our country cheer,
As it well might, were it less firm and clear
Than ours must ever be ;—and how we spun
A shroud of talk to hide us from the sun
Of this familiar life, which seems to be
But is not,—or is but quaint mockery
Of all we would believe ; or sadly blame
The jarring and inexplicable frame
Of tins wrong world :—and then anatomize
The purposes and thoughts of men whose eyes
Were closed in distant years ;—or widely guess
The issue of the earth's great business,
When we shall be as we no longer arc;
Like babbling sossips safe, who hear the war
Of winds, and sigh, but tremble not; or how
You listened to some interrupted flow
Of visionary rhyme ;—in joy and pain
Struck from the inmost fountains of my brain,
With little skill perhaps ;—or how we sought
Those deepest wells of passion or of thought
Wrought by wise poets in the waste of years,
Staining the sacred waters with our tears;
Quenching a thirst ever to be renewed!
Or how I, wisest lady! then indued
The language of a land which now is free,
And winged with thoughts of truth and majesty,
Flits round the tyrant's sceptre like a cloud,
And bursts the peopled prisons, and cries aloud,
"My name is Legion !"—that majestic tongue,
Which Calderon over the desert flung
Of ages and of nations; and which found
An echo in our hearts, and with the sound
Startled oblivion ;—thou wert then to ine
As is a nurse—when inarticulately
A child would talk as its grown parents do.
If living winds the rapid clouds pursue,
If liawks chase doves through the aerial way,
Huntsmen the innocent deer, and beasts their prey,
Why should not we rouse with the spirit's blast
Out of the forest of the pathless past
These recollected pleasures?
You arc now In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow
At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore
Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more.
Yet in its depth what treasures! You will see
Your old friend Godwin, greater none than he;
Though fallen on evil times, yet will he stand,
Among the spirits of our age and land,
Before the dread tribunal of To-come
The foremost, whilst rebuke stands pale and dumb.
You will see Coleridge ; he who sits obscure
In the exceeding lustre and the pure
Intense irradiation of a mind,
Which, with its own internal lustre blind,
Flags wearily through darkness and despair—
A cloud-encircled meteor of the air,
A hooded eagle among blinking owls.
You will see Hunt ; one of those happy souls
Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom
This world would smell like what it is—a tomb;
Who is, what others seem :—his room no doubt
Is still adorned by many a cast from Shout,
With graceful flowers, tastefully placed about;
And coronals of bay from ribbons hung,
And brighter wreaths in neat disorder flung,
The gifts of the most learned among some dozens
Of female friends, sisters-in-law and cousins.
And there is he with his eternal puns,
Which beat the dullest brain for smiles, like duns
Thundering for money at a poet's door;
Alas ! it is no use to say, " I'm poor!"
Or oft in graver mood, when he will look
Things wiser than were ever said in book,
Except in Shakspeare's wisest tenderness.
You will see H—, and I cannot express
His virtues, though I know that they are great,
Because he locks, then barricades, the gate
Within which they inhabit;—of his wit,
And wisdom, you'll cry out when you are bit.
He is a pearl within an oyster-shell,
One of the richest of the deep. And there
Is English P— with his mountain Fair
Turned into a Flamingo,—that shy bird
That gleams i'the Indian air. Have you not heard
When a man marries, dies, or turns Hindoo,
His best friends hear no more of him? but you
Will see him, and will like him too, I hope,
With the milk-white Snowdonian Antelope
Matched with his camelopard, his fine wit
Makes such a wound, the knife is lost in it;
A strain too learned for a shallow age,
Too wise for selfish bigots ;—let his page,
Which charms the chosen spirits of the age,
Fold itself up for a serencr clime
Of years to come, and find its recompense
In that just expectation. Wit and sense,
Virtue and human knowledge, all that might
Make this dull world a business of delight,
Are all combined in Horace Smith.— And these,
With some exceptions, which I need not teaze
Your patience by descanting on, are all
You and I know in London.
I recall My thoughts, and bid you look upon the night: Am water does a sponge, so the moonlight Fills the void, hollow, universal air. What see you ?—Unpavilioned heaven is fair, Whether the moon, into her chamber gone, Leaves midnight to the golden stars, or wan Climbs with diminished beams the azure steep; Or whether clouds sail o'er the inverse deep,