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THE EOLIAN HARP.
My pensive Sara! thy soft cheek reclined Thus on mine arm, most soothing sweet it is To sit beside our cot, our cot o'ergrown With white-flower'd Jasmin, and the broad-leaved Myrtle, (Meet emblems they of innocence and love!) And watch the clouds that late were rich with light, Slow sadd'ning round, and mark the star of eve Serenely brilliant (such should wisdom be) Shine opposite! How exquisite the scents Snatch'd from yon bean-field! and the world so hushed! The stilly murmur of the distant sea Tells us of silence.
And that simplest lute, Placed lengthways in the clasping casement, hark! How by the desultory breeze caress'd,
pours such sweet upbraidings, as must needs
Tempt to repeat the wrong! and now,
Boldlier swept, the long sequacious notes
Over delicious surges sink and rise,
Such a soft floating witchery of sound
As twilight Elfins make, when they at ove
Voyage on gentle gales from Fairy-Land,
Where melodies round honey-dropping flowers,
Footless and wild, like birds of Paradise,
Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untam'd wing!
Methinks it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world like this,
Where even the breezes, and the common air,
Contain the power and spirit of harmony.
And thus, my love, as on the midway slope
Of yonder hill I stretch my limbs at noon,
Whilst through my half closed eyelids I behold
The sunbeams dance, like diamonds, on the main,
And tranquil muse upon tranquillity;
Full many a thought uncall'd and undetain❜d,
And many idle flitting phantasies,
Traverse my indolent and passive brain,
As wild and various as the random gales
That swell and flutter on this subject lute!
And what if all of animated nature
Be but organic harps diversely framed,
That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the Soul of each, and God of all?
But thy more serious eye a mild reproof Darts, O beloved woman! nor such thoughts,
Dim and uphallowed, dost thou not reject,
And biddest me walk humble with my God.
Meek daughter in the family of Christ!
Well hast thou said, and holily disprais'd
These shapings of the unregenerate mind
Bubbles, that glitter as they rise and break
On vain philosophy's aye-babbling spring.
For never guiltless may I speak of him,
Th' Incomprehensible! save when with awe
I praise him, and with Faith, that inly feels;
Who with his saving mercies healed me,
A sinful and most miserable man,
Wilder'd and dark, and gave me to possess
Peace, and this Cot, and thee, heart-honored Maid!
REFLECTIONS ON HAVING LEFT A PLACE OF RETIREMENT.
Low was our pretty Cot: our tallest rose
Peep'd at the chamber-window. We could hear
At silent noon, and eve, and early morn,
The sea's faint murmur. In the open air
Our Myrtles blossom'd; and across the porch
Thick Jasmins twined; the little landscape round
Was green and woody, and refreshed the eye.
It was a spot which you might aptly call
The valley of Seclusion! once I saw
(Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness)
A wealthy son of commerce saunter by,
Bristowa's citizen: methought it calmed
His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse
With wiser feelings: for he paused and looked
With a pleased sadness, and gazed all around,
Then eyed our cottage and gazed round again,
And sighed, and said it was a blessed place.
And we were blessed. Oft with patient ear
Long-listening to the viewless skylark's note,
(Viewless, or haply for a moment seen,
Gleaming on sunny wing), In whisper'd tones
I've said to my beloved, "Such, sweet girl!
The inobstrusive song of happiness,
Unearthly minstrelsy! then only heard
When the soul seeks to hear; when all is hush'd
And the heart listens."
But the time, when first
From that low dell, steep up the stony mount
I clim'd with perilous toil and reach'd the top,
Oh! what a goodly scene! Here the bleak mount,
The bare bleak mountain speckled thin with sheep;
Gray clouds, that shadowing spot the sunny fields;
And river, now with bushy rocks o'erbrowed,
Now winding bright and full, with naked banks;
And seats, and lawns, the abbey, and the wood,
And cots, and hamlets, and faint city spire:
The channel there, the islands and white sails,
Dim coasts and cloud-like hills and shoreless ocean,-
It seem'd like Omnipresence! God, methought,
Had built him there a temple: the whole world
Seem'd imag'd in its vast circumference.
No wish profan'd my overwhelmed heart.
Blest hour! It was a luxury-to be!
Ah! quiet dell! dear cot! and mount sublime!
I was constrain'd to quit you. Was it right,
While my unnumber'd brethren toil'd and bled,
That I should dream away the entrusted hours,
On rose-leaf beds, pampering the coward heart
With feelings all too delicate for use?
Sweet is the tear that from some Howard's eye,
Drops on the cheek of one, he lifts from earth:
And he, that works me good with unmov'd face
Does it but half: he chills me while he aids;
My benefactor, not my brother man.
Yet even this, this cold beneficence
Seizes my praise, when I reflect on those,
The Sluggard Pity's vision-weaving tribe!
Who sigh for wretchedness, yet shun the wretched,
Nursing in some delicious solitude
Their slothful loves and dainty sympathies,
I therefore go, and join head, heart, and hand,
Active and firm, to fight the bloodless fight
Of science, freedom, and the truth in Christ.
Yet oft when after honorable toil
Rests the tired mind, and waking, loves to dream,
My spirit shall revisit thee, dear cot!
Thy Jasmin and thy window-peeping rose,
And Myrtles, fearless of the mild sea-air.
And I shall sigh fond wishes-sweet abode!
Ah! had none greater! And that all had such !
It might be so- -but the time is not yet.
Speed it, O Father! Let thy kingdom come!
INSCRIPTION FOR A FOUNTAIN ON A HEATH.
THIS Sycamore, oft musical with bees,-
Such tents the Patriarchs lov'd! O long unharm'd
May all its aged boughs o'er-canopy
The small round basin, which this jutting-stone
Keeps pure from falling leaves! Long may the spring,
Quietly as a sleeping infant's breath,
Send up cold waters to the traveller
With soft and even pulse! Nor ever cease
Yon tiny cone of sand its soundless dance;
Which at the bottom, like a Fairy's Page,
As merry and no taller, dances still,
Nor wrinkles the smooth surface of the fount.
Here twilight is and coolness: here is moss,
A soft seat, and a deep and ample shade.
Thou may'st toil for and find no second tree.
Drink, pilgrim, here! Here rest! and if thy heart
Be innocent, here too shalt thou refresh
Thy spirit, list'ning to some gentle sound,
Or passing gale or hum of murmuring bees!
THIS LIME TREE BOWER MY PRISON.
In the June of 1797, some long expected friends paid a visit to the author's cottage; and on the morning of their arrival, he met with an accident which disabled him from walking during the whole time of their stay. One evening, when they had left him for a few hours, he composed the following lines in the garden-bower.
WELL, they are gone, and here must, I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Such beauties and such feelings, as had been
Most sweet to my remembrance, even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! they, meanwhile,
My friends, whom I may never meet again,
On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'er wooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge; that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still
Fann'd by the water-fall! And there, my friends,
Behold the dark-green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.
Now my friends emerge Beneath the wide, wide heaven, and view again The many-steepled track magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea
With some fair bark perhaps whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pin'd
And hunger'd after Nature many a year
In the great city pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain,
And strange calamity! Ah slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds !
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue ocean!-So my friend
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wild landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily, living thing,
Which acts upon the mind-and with such hues
As clothe the Almighty Spirit, when he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut tree
Was richly ting'd; and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble bee,
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure.
No scene so narrow but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to love and beauty! And sometimes
"T is well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may
lift the soul and contemplate
With lively joy the joy we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path along the dusky air
Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing