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What is the trifle which you would demand ?
The self-betraying of a tremulous hand,
That ne'er in useful labour was employed,
Though once with self-production overjoyed.
Its strutting capitals and whisking tails,
Quaint cyphers, slanting to the veering gales
Of vanity and would-be wit, implied
That e’en my digits felt a Poet's pride.
That pride of rhyme, that pert, pen-jerking joy,
Has left me long. I am no more a boy ;
For yesternoon, alas ! brought home to me
The solemn tidings I was forty-three.
At such an age the triumph of the pen
Is poor indeed to poor and pensive men.
And yet my pen finds something still to fee it,
Though mean my name, yet you desire to see it.
Rose, and violet, and pansy,
Each has told a tale of love,
Various with the freak of fancy.
Apt and bold the fields to rove,
See the pansy ; Seek her not in secret grove.
Rose of summer, lovely creature !
Who did ever look on thee,
But beheld the very feature
Which he most was glad to see, -
Fairest, dearest, Whosoe'er the dear may be ?
Long ago, when I was roaming,
In a shady path I met,
Dim and blue as summer gloaming,
Far apart from all the rest,
Meek and lowly, Her, my own dear violet.
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.
High was my lineage, many an age ago
My grandsire nursed the mystic mistletoe,
By Druid shorn for dark primeval rite,
With golden sickle by the pale moonlight,
When forests dank of patriarchal oak,
“That never echo'd to the woodman's stroke,
In boundless contiguity of shade,”
Possess'd the destined seats of wealth and trade.
The dappled deer, the sullen shaggy bear,
The tall elk, bursting from its bosky lair,
And all the natural tribes of earth and air,
All, all, familiar with the gnarled tree,
Did homage to my sire's antiquity.
Had he possess'd a human heart and speech
As sage to know and eloquent to teach
As his dark brethren of Dodona, then
What tales could he have told of beasts and men !
Of Giant Albion, and his peer in fame,
That to far-jutting Cornwall * left his name, -
Of Trojan Brutus, and his progeny,
The boast of many a Welsh long pedigree,
And many a king and chief, forgotten long,
Embalm'd in Geoffrey's prose and Spenser's laureate song:
But mute he was, unable to divine
The lamentable lot of old Locrine ;
Nor aught of Camber † or of Albinact
Could he relate, nor of poor Lear distract,
Though once, I think, that Lear was fain to house
And sing mad songs beneath my grandsire's boughs ;
And sure the kindly tree bemoan'd his grief, 30
With groaning fibre and with quivering leaf.
The Romans came, they came, they fought, they slew,
They conquer'd, reign'd awhile, and then withdrew
From Britain's isle. Yet, as wild winds bestrew
The long lanes that they make in close defiles 35
Of intermingled underwood for miles,
With wrecks and relics of their fatal glee,
And trophies of triumphant anarchy ;
So, when the hairy myriads of the North
O'erleap'd the barrier,—when the Pict rush'd forth, 40
And Caledonia pour'd from cavern'd rocks,
From all her crankling bays and sinuous lochs,
From purple moor, green shaw, and quaking fen,
Her grisly superfluity of men,-
And not to heal, but aggravate the sore,
Came the red sea-kings from the Saxon shore,
Wave after wave, and blast outhowling blast,
Till all despair'd that any would be last ;-
Though shy Civility and stately Form
Or fled or fell before the human storm,
Nor quite effaced were all the steps of Time,
For Druid saw was blent with Runic rhyme,-
The oak, which Briton bards had sung beneath,
And whence the Roman pluck'd his civic wreath,
Was still an oak, and grew in power and pride,
With its old shade, new kingdoms to divide.
My grandsire's story it were long to tell,-
How long he flourish'd, how at last he fell !
Was it his doom in shallow bark to bow
His knotty strength, and form a pirate's prow?
Made he the vast beam of a baron's hall,
Or board smooth-rubb'd for lavish festival ?
Or iron-headed ram, to smite the tottering wall ?
Ah no! He was a dedicated tree
From the first germ of his nativity.