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A FOUNTAIN, issuing into light
Before a marble palace, threw
To heaven its column, pure and bright,
Returning thence in showers of dew;
But soon a humbler course it took,
And glid away a nameless brook.
Flowers on its grassy margin sprang,
Flies o'er its eddying surface played, Birds ’midst the alder-branches sang,
Flocks through the verdant meadows strayed; The weary there lay down to rest, And there the halcyon built her nest.
'T was beautiful, to stand and watch
The fountain's crystal turn to gems,
And from the sky such colours catch
As if 'twere raining diadems;
Yet all was cold and curious art,
That charmed the eye, but missed the heart.
Dearer to me the little stream,
Whose unimprisoned waters run,
Wild as the changes of a dream,
By rock and glen, through shade and sun;
Its lovely links had power to bind
In welcome chains my wandering mind.
So thought I when I saw the face,
By happy portraiture revealed,
Of one, adorned with every grace,
-Her name and date from me concealed,
But not her story;---she had been
The pride of many a splendid scene.
She cast her glory round a Court,
And frolicked in the gayest ring,
Where fashion's high-born minions sport,
Like sparkling fire-flies on the wing;
But thence, when love had touched her soul,
To nature and to truth she stole.
From din, and pageantry, and strife,
'Midst woods and mountains, vales and plains, She treads the paths of lowly life,
Yet in a bosom-circle reigns;
No fountain scattering diamond showers,
But the sweet streamlet watering flowers.
The head that oft this Pillow pressed,
That aching head, is gone to rest ;
Its little pleasures now no more,
And all its mighty sorrows o'er,
For ever, in the worm's dark bed,
For ever sleeps that humble head!
My friend was young, the world was new;
The world was false, my friend was true;
Lowly his lot, his birth obscure,
His fortune hard, my friend was poor;
To wisdom he had no pretence,
A child of suffering, not of sense;
For Nature never did impart
A weaker or a warmer heart.
His fervent soul, a soul of flame ;
Consumed its frail terrestrial frame,
That fire from heaven só fiercely burned,
That whence it came it soon returned :
And yet, O Pillow! yet to me
My gentle friend survives in thee;
In thee, the partner of his bed,
In thee, the widow of the dead !
On Helicon's inspiring brink,
Ere yet my friend had learned to think,
Once as he passed the careless day
Among the whispering reeds at play,
The Muse of Sorrow wandered by;
Her pensive beauty fixed his eye;
With sweet astonishment he smiled ;
The gipsy saw-she stole the child ;
And soft on her ambrosial breast
Sang the delighted babe to rest;
Conveyed him to her inmost grove,
And loved him with a mother's love.
Awaking from his rosy nap,
And gaily sporting on her lap,
His wanton fingers o'er her lyre
Twinkled like electric fire;
Quick and quicker as they flew,
Sweet and sweeter tones they drew:
Now a bolder hand he flings,
And dives among the deepest strings;
Then forth the music brake like thunder;
Back he started, wild with wonder !
The Muse of Sorrow wept for joy,
And clasped and kissed her chosen boy.
Ah! then no more his smiling hours
Were spent in childhood's Eden bowers;
The fall from infant innocence,
The fall to knowledge drives us thence:
O knowledge! worthless at the price,
Bought with the loss of Paradise !
As happy ignorance declined,
And reason rose upon his mind,
Romantic hopes and fond desires
(Sparks of the soul's immortal fires !)
Kindled within his breast the rage
To breathe through every future age,
To clasp the flitting shade of fame,
To build an everlasting name,
O’erlap the narrow vulgar span,
And live beyond the life of man!
Then Nature's charms his heart possessed,
And Nature's glory filled his breast :
The sweet spring morning's infant rays,
Meridian summer's youthful blaze,
Maturer autumn's evening mild,
And hoary winter's midnight wild,
Awoke his eye, inspired his tongue;
For every scene he loved, he sung.
Rude were his songs, and simple truth,
Till boyhood blossomed into youth;
Then nobler themes his fancy fired,
To bolder flights his soul aspired ;
And as the new moon's opening eye
Broadens and brightens through the sky,
From the dim streak of western light
To the full orb that rules the night,
Thus, gathering lustre in its race,
And shining through unbounded space,
From earth to heaven his genius soared,
Time and eternity explored,
And hailed, where'er its footsteps trod,
In Nature's temple, Nature's GOD;
Or pierced the human breast to scan
The hidden majesty of man ;
Man's hidden weakness too descried,
His glory, grandeur, meanness, pride;
Pursued along their erring course
The streams of passion to their source;
Or in the mind's creation sought
New stars of farszy, worlds of thought !
Yet still through all his strains would flow
A tone of uncomplaining woe,
Kind as the tear in pity's eye,
Soft as the slumbering infant's sigh,
So sweetly, exquisitely wild,
It spake the Muse of Sorrow's child.
O Pillow! then, when light withdrew,
To thee the fond enthusiast flew;
On thee, in pensive mood reclined,
He poured his contemplative mind,
Till o'er his eyes, with mild control,
Sleep like a soft enchantment stole,
Charmed into life his airy schemes,
And realized his waking dreams.
Soon from those waking dreams he woke,
The fairy spell of fancy broke:
In vain he breathed a soul of fire
Through every chord that strung his lyre.
No friendly echo cheered his tongue,
Amidst the wilderness he sung;
Louder and bolder bards were crowned,
Whose dissonance his music drowned :
The public ear, the public voice,
Despised his song, denied his choice,
Denied a name,-a life in death,
Denied-a bubble and a breath.
Stript of his fondest, dearest claim,
And disinherited of fame,
To thee, O Pillow! thee alone,
He made his silent anguish known;
His haughty spirit scorned the blow
That laid his high ambition low;
But ah! his looks assumed in vain
A cold ineffable disdain,
While deep he cherished in his breast
The scorpion that consumed his rest.
Yet other secret griefs had he,
O Pillow! only told to thee:
Say, did not hopeless love intrude
On his poor bosom's solitude?
Perhaps on thy soft lap reclined,
In dreams the cruel fair was kind,
That more intensely he might know
The bitterness of waking woe.
Whate'er those pangs from me concealed,
To thee in midnight groans revealed,
They stung remembrance to despair,
“A wounded spirit who can bear?”
Meanwhile disease, with slow decay,
Mouldered his feeble frame away;
And as his evening sun declined,
The shadows deepened o'er his mind,
What doubts and terrors then possessed
The dark dominion of his breast !
How did delirious fancy dwell
On madness, suicide, and hell!
There was on earth no power to save;
But, as he shuddered o'er the grave,
He saw from realms of light descend
The friend of him who has no friend,
Religion !-Her almighty breath
Rebuked the winds and waves of death;
She bade the storm of frenzy cease,
And smiled a calm, and whispered peace;
Amidst that calm of sweet repose,
To heaven his gentle spirit rose.