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Who has not heard of death-lights on a grave ?
But who may count, with microscopic eye,
The multitudes of lives that gleam and flash Behind the rousing keel, and multiply
In myriad millions, when the white oars dash Through waves electric, or at stillest night Spread round the bark becalm'd their milky white ?
Oh, had the bards that did so sweetly sing
In times of old, when poesy was young,
Of what we know, how sweetly had they sung!
And many a living thing of instinct wise,
Of form majestic, or of brightest plume, That o'er the vast South Sea unwearied flies,
Or mid the broad magnolia’s fiery bloom Builds its low nest, had been beloved of men, Like Robin Redbreast and plain Jenny Wren.
TO GOODY TWOSHOES.
Ah, little Goody! I have known thee long,
And feel it strange to call thee Lady Jones. Art thou as happy mid the bowing throng
As when thou hadst thy two shoes on the stones ? Sole sound of comfort that could reach thy heart, When thy companion child must needs depart.
Thy lamb, thy raven, and thy box of letters,
Thy love for all the tribes of earth and air,
Or folks so called, look round with wondrous stare,
All these, to curious childhood dear, as new,
Retain a value to the satiate age,
And press full oft before the inward view
Of souls long strangers to the brief square page, The tinselled covers, and the strange old pictures That served our ancestors instead of lectures.
I've trembled with thee in the church so cold,
And fearful in its soundless solitude. What place so weary as deserted fold,
Where few hours past the shepherd wise and good Had spoke the words that take the sting from death, And change our human tears to wells of faith ?
But more of fear and more of pain was thine,
And short and smothered was thy sweet breath, when A little musty hay, a narrow line
Of darkness, parted thee from evil men,
A neighbourhood unmeet for one like thee;
Yet out of evil, maids whose minds are right, As thine was in its sweet simplicity,
Draw blessings for themselves ; celestial light Beams on the weakest in extreme distresses Assurance, where proud prudence hardly guesses.
Such wert thou, Goody, in thy childish days,
And though, no doubt, thou didst grow old in time, And wert a spinster much deserving praise,
That praise I will not speak in prose or rhyme ; For rather I'd believe thee tripping still With Ralph the Raven, and with Baa-Lamb Bill.
TO ROBERT SOUTHEY,
NEITHER THE ESQUIRE, THE LAUREATE, THE LL.D., BUT THE GOOD
MAN, THE MERRY MAN, THE POET, AND THE DOCTOR,
He was not born beneath the Cambrian hills ;
No mountain breezes lull'd his infant slumbers; Loud rattling cars, and penny-dropping tills,
And blended murmurs of conglomerate numbers, Were the chief sounds that baby Robert heard ; The pecking sparrow, his sole household bird.
Great Bristol was his nest and natal town,
And not till he had cast his baby frock He felt the liberal air of Durdum Down,
Or look'd on Avon from St. Vincent's rock, Whence many a bark was seen in trim array, Bound on bad quest to hapless Africa.
'Tis hard to say what might have been his lot,
If born with Nature from the first to dwell ;