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SOFT as a cloud is yon blue Ridge—the Mere
Seems firm as solid crystal, breathless, clear,
And motionless; and, to the gazer's eye,
Deeper than ocean, in the immensity
Of its vague mountains and unreal sky!
But, from the process in that still retreat,
Turn to minuter changes at our feet;
Observe how dewy Twilight has withdrawn
The crowd of daisies from the shaven lawn,
And has restored to view its tender green,

That, while the sun rode high, was lost beneath their dazzling sheen.

-An emblem this of what the sober Hour

Can do for minds disposed to feel its power!
Thus oft, when we in vain have wish'd away
The petty pleasures of the garish day,

Meek Eve shuts up the whole usurping host
(Unbashful dwarfs each glittering at his post)
And leaves the disencumbered spirit free
To reassume a staid simplicity.

"Tis well-but what are helps of time and place, When wisdom stands in need of nature's grace;

Why do good thoughts, invoked or not, descend,

Like Angels from their bowers, our virtues to befriend; If yet To-morrow, unbelied, may say,

"I come to open out, for fresh display,

The elastic vanities of yesterday?"



THE leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill,
And sky that danced among those leaves, are still;
Rest smooths the way for sleep; in field and bower
Soft shades and dews have shed their blended power
On drooping eyelid and the closing flower;

Sound is there none at which the faintest heart
Might leap, the weakest nerve of superstition start;
Save when the Owlet's unexpected scream
Pierces the ethereal vault; and (mid the gleam
Of unsubstantial imagery, the dream,

From the hushed vale's realities, transferred
To the still lake) the imaginative Bird
Seems, 'mid inverted mountains, not unheard.

Grave Creature!-whether, while the moon shines bright On thy wings opened wide for smoothest flight, Thou art discovered in a roofless tower,

Rising from what may once have been a lady's bower;

Or spied where thou sitt'st moping in thy mew
At the dim centre of a churchyard yew ;
Or, from a rifted crag or ivy tod

Deep in a forest, thy secure abode,

Thou giv'st, for pastime's sake, by shriek or shout,
A puzzling notice of thy whereabout-

May the night never come, nor day be seen,
When I shall scorn thy voice or mock thy mien !

In classic ages men perceived a soul Of sapience in thy aspect, headless Owl! Thee Athens reverenced in the studious grove; And, near the golden sceptre grasped by Jove, His Eagle's favourite perch, while round him sate The Gods revolving the decrees of Fate,

Thou, too, wert present at Minerva's side

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Hark to that second larum !-far and wide
The elements have heard, and rock and cave replied.



[This Impromptu appeared, many years ago, among the Author's poems, from which, in subsequent editions, it was excluded. It is reprinted, at the request of the friend in whose presence the lines were thrown off.]

THE sun has long been set,

The stars are out by twos and threes, The little birds are piping yet

Among the bushes and trees;

There's a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes,

And a far-off wind that rushes,

And a sound of water that gushes,

And the cuckoo's sovereign cry

Fills all the hollow of the sky.

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In London, and masquerading,

On such a night of June

With that beautiful soft half-moon,

And all these innocent blisses?

On such a night as this is!





HAD this effulgence disappeared
With flying haste, I might have sent,
Among the speechless clouds, a look
Of blank astonishment;

But 'tis endued with power to stay,
And sanctify one closing day,
That frail Mortality may see-

What is ?-ah no, but what can be!
Time was when field and watery cove
With modulated echoes rang,

While choirs of fervent Angels sang

Their vespers in the grove;

Or, crowning, star-like, each some sovereign height,

Warbled, for heaven above and earth below,

Strains suitable to both.--Such holy rite,

Methinks, if audibly repeated now

From hill or valley, could not move
Sublimer transport, purer love,

Than doth this silent spectacle-the gleam--
The shadow-and the peace supreme!



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