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Then as a madman, with his shaken chains,
Her thorn, the bleeding-bosomed nightingale,
He would make music of his very pains.
Fond fool! for whom? a world that scorns the tale,
A happy world ! deaf, deaf as to that pale
Madman in dark, the thronged and sunny street;
But poetry is suffering's voice, whose wail
Asks not an audience, or finds audience meet
Io night and mountains—such ev'n his wild seat,
A moonlight carnedd ’neath its silver winding-sheet.
He made vain monument to the forgotten!
Lost labour, leaving what you hide unknown-
Whether some hero's bones, or felon's, rotten :*
Enough in your rude pyramids of stone
Is here to build some glorious memory's throne;
So, this lone mind's lost labours, seen of none,
(Moon-tinted piles of thought to mountains grown ;)
Fame-sunn'd, perchance, some worthier work had done
Now—like your grey heaps glooming in the sun,
No monument shall leave or worse -an evil one!
For who can tell with what revulsion dread
Check'd minds rush roaring in their back career!
The dammed-up river drowns the field it fed,-
Where are its cowslips ? 'neath those mud-drifts drear,
So the mind's force, which might a temple rear
To God and virtue, and fair fame uncheck’d,
Check'd_hell ward burns! work deeds of death and fear,
And deep damnation, while the retrospect
Of high aims lost but aids the fierce effect,
As bravest vessels beat most fearfully when wreck'd.
Now, conscious of his mind's mortality,
Off, all her gauds, for fame's long day designed,
He stripped, he burned, and let her death-like lie,
Naked and grim-a very corpse of mind !
Such apathy hope's farewell left behind;
Yet rolling his sad eyes on all the sweet
Flowers of the mountains, for those robes resigned,
In bitter mockery of those meant to meet
Heaven's eye, he strewed these on her winding-sheet.-
• Stones were throwy by passers-by on the graves of malefactors, in abhorrence; and piled over those of fallen heroes in honour.
A BARD'S-EYE VIEW OF WALES.
'Neath the rock-fortress of the “Snowy Neck,'*
Grim blood-stained nurse of such white memory-
I stand ;—like little life-boat to a wreck,
My child comes bounding o'er the moat to me;
Shews the pale glitter of the moonlight sea
Thro' hanging arch and green clefts ruinous;
I smile with him, but think despair! with thee;
Mingling (as sick men dream) soft childhood thus,
My sweet brief charge, with that " white memory and grey nurse!"
Sepulchral towers, but for that screech-owl dumb,
Eternal-looking as your marble base
This rock upon this mountain-yet become
The blind bat's home, thou meanest dwelling-place,
Less value now, tho' ruin greenly grace,
And stars with mock-lamps hang your skeleton,
Ruins which mocked at ruin ! as I
Your halls they seem my homefame's ever gone,
Oblivion's home,-avd mine who dared oblivion!
Proud lonely mind, sick hollow heart enfolding,
As thorns and emptiness these walls ! confess,
Happier the hut one little taper holding,
Than these in all their pomp and loneliness,
And lofty lamps that show how comfortless !
True-gentle boy—that up-turned smile of thine
Beams yet, one taper on my wilderness;
For all that warms life's noon, gilds life's decline,
Fame, fortune, friends,-hopes human or divine,
At last, what do I find ? this little hand in mine!
Vain hold ! a rugged father's bre
Is as a sea-cliff, where one tree of spring,
Chance-sown, with th’ orchard's beauty paints it wild,
Blushes its little time of blossoming,
Down far from its bleak breast its fruit to fling,
And leave that naked to its storm and stone-
My boy-my fruit-flower-pleasantest brief thing!
So, with thy pink and white, wilt thou be gone-
This hand will leave this hand, to shake in age
* Twr Bronwen, the ancient name of Harlech castle. Bronwen (literally “the white-breasted”) was sister to a duke of Cornwall, afterwards king of Britain, and gave her name to it, or rather to the ancient fortress that preceded the present.
Oh! 'tis a second youth to walk with youth,
And take sweet lessons from our father's child,
Wise from Heaven's school, in joys that bring no ruth!
But the sear leaf must fall tho' Autumn gild
Most summer-like; soon comes our winter wild,
Yellow from green to tear; the stake, a day
Stands in the hedge, as if no axe had killed —
Midst the green thorns yet green-but how in May ?
Lone in its black it stands, in crimsoned silver they.
While to the child we act that stake's short part,
Uphold to meet a May we must not share,
Fast from the lip, the lap, the hand (not heart!)
He grows away, when most we need him there,
While fools congratulate, and we despair;
Till like the rampant hedge still flourished higher,
Flaunting wild roses o'er that stake's head bare,
The full-blown man o'erlooks the sunken sire,
Left like that log for th' earth, or peradventure—fire.
Thus Life's hopes foundered (ev'n to this small hand)
In pale succession shown, like corses bare,
On this my everlasting shipwreck-strand;
Since those long-loved, long-watched, we leave to fare
We know not how, and go we know not where,
Dear Nature, hide me from those hopes decayed !
Since love must mourn, minds die, and hearts despair,
From genius the curse, and fame the shade,
“ Wild Wales !" as from the hounds a fawn close laid,
This boy's yet untorn heart keep ever unbetrayed.
The heart has its two ages—first a span,
The blithe “good morrow" to th' whole living race,
And bright blush for the new acquaintance, Man!
The next of fierce recoiling—the long space
Of stern and mournful turning from his face;
Then makes the wounded mind its solemn day
Of night-a mountain its loved dwelling-place;
In vain! that dropp'd acquaintance grinning gay,
Crosses his wild path still—then we will stray
In search of wilder yet,-on then, mine own, away!
All, save thy mountain's everlasting grace;
All that of Nature's charms man can deform,
Thy heights, thy depths, her summer idling-place;
Not th' eagle's home outsoars th’incessant swarm,
While Bow-bell dwellers climb the “ dwelling of the storm."
Yet thou art still the same, majestic land !
Thy cataract's voice as great as in the hour
It leaped forth roaring from th’Almighty hand,
Thy “sea of mountains” with a sea's own power
Resists man's stamp; tho' (slower to devour)
A little longer than that spares a wreck,
This on its green breast bears the mouldering tower,
As the next wave engulfs th' untrodden deck,
Another age rolls on and vanishes the speck.
Then grieve not thou, Nature's true worshipper,
That those vain impotents infest her shrine,
As cripples hang their crutches up-with her
Leaving of their mind's impotence some sign
Midst her green cloisters, and her aisles divine,
Mock-ruin-Gothic arch-embattled cot-
O’erlook those thou, ev'n as a silver mine
Its happy owner sees in thought, and not
The lead-ore heaps, and huts disfiguring the spot.
Such hidden wealth beneath deformity
This land still holds for thee (for me perchance)
Each cowslip dell—by taste's rich alchemy,
Each mountain where the morning sunbeams dance,
Our golden mine-our rich inheritance!
Then come, whoe'er thou art, while fashion's sons
Her Limbos seek, and scarce on Nature glance;
Come where, round flowering roofs the rock-brook runs,
Where old wives knit and spin by rising-setting suns.
Or trace it up by primrosed isles, and rock
And root, where white its little cataracts rave,
Climb where in high blue bleats the spring-white flock
And the boy shepherd,--where tall foxgloves wave
Round the lone carnedd-pipes upon a grave,
Nor dreams that sweet-breathed bank a charnel's roof;
Emblem of man! earth's tyrant, and death's slave,
Who walks on tombs, yet deems death still aloof,
Nor sees his pale pale horse,” nor hears his thundering hoof!
Nor life becalmed alone in this green calm
Of Nature, meets the view, but passions high-
Still more terrific for her gentle psalm
Of birds, woods, waterfalls,--her bluest eye
Brew the red rain of mortal tragedy:
So when tornados sweep the torrid zone,
It pours, howls, thunders, in a cloudless sky,*
In whose blue fields sits Phæbus all alone,
And with a dreadful smile sees half a realm o'erthrown.
As Nature's frightful smiling treachery,
That sich in scenes that seem her sinless own,
Peaceful and sweet-appears such tragedy;
The midnight murdert--the bog-burial lone,
Warm in the blood, earth smothering the groan !
Need we the Nine? behold you ten times nine
Black peals, the thunder's castellated throne !
Genius of Milton! had such muse been thine,
Who knows but mightier still had soared thy“ mighty line."
Thee, glorious Spirit, shall I dare to pity ?
Alas for thee in populous city pent!'
Thy pain, thy smothering in the noisome city,
Surely those lines did feelingly lament;
Ah! hadst thou breathed .grass, dew, and dairy's scent,'
How hadst thou soared up heaven-like eagle freed !
In fierce rebellion's strife thou hadst not spent
Thy fire, nor on that apple tree, that deed
Which most “shocks mortal faith, 'I of our immortal creed.
From Wales to Milton! bold, not wild the flight
From lofty landscape to a loftier mind;
Enough—henceforth in valley or on height,
Past days or present—to our land confined,
What terror, pity, or delight lie shrined
(Like diamonds in their rock-dew uncongealed,
Rich nestlings of the sun,) be ours to find,
In mountain life or landscape-soft concealed —
Or life flowers lurking low in some deep grassy field.
* St. Pierre describes this phenomenon in his “Harmonies of Nature.'
+ A murder was committed not very long since, on a woman enceinte, under these horrible circumstances, and the murderer (– Evans) executed at Brecknock.
The world is free to smile at this, my solitary opinion, of Milton's subject. Perhaps the tremendous awe with which this very early fact in