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Here Wisdom might resort, and here Remorse;
Here too the love-lorn Man who, sick in soul
And of this busy human heart aweary,
Worships the spirit of unconscious life
In tree or wild-flower.-Gentle Lunatic!
If so he might not wholly cease to be,
He would far rather not be that, he is;
But would be something, that he knows not of,
In winds or waters, or among the rocks!
But hence, fond wretch! breathe not contagion here!
No myrtle-walks are these: these are no groves
Where Love dare loiter! If in sullen mood
He should stray hither, the low stumps shall gore
His dainty feet, the briar and the thorn
Make his plumes haggard. Like a wounded bird
Easily caught, ensnare him, O ye Nymphs,
Ye Oreads chaste, ye dusky Dryades!
And you, ye EARTH-WINDS! you that make at morn
The dew-drops quiver on the spiders' webs!
You, O ye wingless AIRS! that creep between
The rigid stems of heath and bitten furze,
Within whose scanty shade, at summer-noon,
The mother-sheep hath worn a hollow bed-
Ye, that now cool her fleece with dropless Damp,
Now pant and murmur with her feeding lamb.
Chase, chase him, all ye Fays, and elfin Gnomes!
With prickles sharper than his darts bemock
His little Godship, making him perforce
Creep through a thorn-bush on yon hedgehog's back.
This is my hour of triumph! I can now With my own fancies play the merry fool, And laugh away worse folly, being free. Here will I seat myself, beside this old, Hollow, and weedy oak, which ivy-twine
Cloaths as with net-work: here will couch my limbs, Close by this river, in this silent shade,
As an invisible world-unheard, unseen, 11 And listening only to the pebbly steam,
That murmurs with a dead, yet bell-like sound
Tinkling, or bees, that in the neighbouring trunk
Make honey-hoards. This breeze, that visits me,
Was never Love's accomplice, never rais'd
The tendril ringlets from the maiden's brow,
And the blue, delicate veins above her cheek;
Ne'er play'd the wanton-never half disclosed
The maiden's snowy bosom, scattering thence
Eye-poisons for some love-distempered youth,
Who ne'er henceforth may see an aspen-grove
Shiver in sunshine, but his feeble heart
Shall flow away like a dissolving thing.
Sweet breeze! thou only, if I
Liftest the feathers of the robin's breast,
Who swells his little breast, so full of song,
Singing above me, on the mountain-ash.
And thou too, desert Stream! no pool of thine,
Though clear as lake in latest summer-eve,
Did e'er reflect the stately virgin's robe,
Her face, her form divine, her downcast look
Contemplative! Ah see! her open palm
Presses her cheek and brow! her elbow rests
On the bare branch of half-uprooted tree,
That leans towards its mirror! He, meanwhile,
Who from her countenance turn'd, or look'd by stealth,
(For fear is true love's cruel nurse,) he now,
With stedfast gaze and unoffending eye,
Worships the watery idol, dreaming hopes
Delicious to the soul, but fleeting, vain,
E'en as that phantom-world on which he gazed.
She, sportive tyrant! with her left hand plucks
The heads of tall flowers that behind her grow,
Lychnis, and willow-herb, and fox-glove bells;
And suddenly, as one that toys with time,
Scatters them on the pool! Then all the charm
Is broken-all that phantom-world so fair
Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
And each mis-shape the other. Stay awhile,
Poor youth, who scarcely dar'st lift up thine eyes! The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
The visions will return! And lo! he stays:
And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
The pool becomes a mirror, and behold
Each wildflower on the marge inverted there,
And there the half-uprooted tree-but where,
O where the virgin's snowy arm, that lean'd
On its bare branch? He turns, and she is gone!
Homeward she steals through many a woodland maze
Which he shall seek in vain. Ill-fated youth!
Go, day by day, and waste thy manly prime
In mad Love-yearning by the vacant brook,
Till sickly thoughts bewitch thine eyes, and thou
Behold'st her shadow still abiding there,
The Naiad of the Mirror!
O wild and desert Stream! belongs this tale:
Gloomy and dark art thou-the crowded firs
Tower from thy shores, and stretch across thy bed,
Making thee doleful as a cavern-well:
Save when the shy king-fishers build their nest
On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild stream!
This be thy chosen haunt-emancipate
From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone,
I rise and trace its devious course. O lead,
Lead me to deeper shades and lonelier glooms.
Lo! stealing through the canopy of firs
How fair the sunshine spots that mossy rock,
Isle of the river, whose disparted waters
Dart off asunder with an angry sound,
How soon to re-unite' They meet, they join
In deep embrace, and open to the Sun
Lie calm and smooth. Such the delicious hour
Of deep enjoyment, following love's brief feuds !
And hark, the noise of a near waterfall!
I came out into light-I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful
Of forest-trees, the Lady of the woods),
Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock
That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills