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"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
At which the poor Old Man so long
The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
-I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning.
Alas! the gratitude of men
Has oftener left me mourning.
Written in April, 1798.
No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song,
"Most musical, most melancholy*" Bird! A melancholy Bird? O idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
-But some night-wandering Man, whose heart was pierced
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,.
(And so, poor wretch! filled all things with himself,
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
First named these notes a melancholy strain :
This passage in
* "Most musical, most melancholy." Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description: it is spoken in the character of the melancholy Man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The Author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton: a charge than which none could be more painful to him, except, perhaps, that of having ridiculed his Bible.
And many a poet echoes the conceit;
Poet, who hath been building up the rhyme
When he had better far have stretched his limbs Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell
By sun- or moon-light, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
A venerable thing! and so his song
Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs
My Friend, and my Friend's Sister! we have learnt
Nature's sweet voices always full of love
And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge
In wood and thicket over the wide grove
They answer and provoke each other's songs→ With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical and swift jug jug
And one low piping sound more sweet than all
Stirring the air with such an harmony,