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Then ages unborn shall their verdure admire,
And nations sit under their shade, While my spirit, in secret, shall move o'er my lyre,
Aloft in their branches displayed.
Hence, dream of vain glory!—the light drop of dew,
That glows in the violet's eye,
In the splendour of morn to a fugitive view,
May rival a star of the sky;
But the violet is plucked, and the dew-drop is flown,
The star unextinguished shall shine: Then mine be the laurels of virtue alone,
And the glories of Paradise mine.
SEEN IN A COUNTRY EXCURSION, JUNE 30, 1818.
The summer sun was in the west,
Yet far above his evening rest;
A thousand clouds in air displayed
Their floating isles of light and shade,
The sky, like ocean's channels, seen
In long meandering streaks between.
Cultured and waste, the landscape lay;
Woods, mountains, valleys stretched away,
And thronged the immense horizon round,
With heaven's eternal girdle bound :
From inland towns, eclipsed with smoke,
Steeples in lonely grandeur broke;
Hamlets, and cottages, and streams
By glimpses caught the casual gleams,
Or blazed in lustre broad and strong
Beyond the picturing powers of song:
O'er all the eye enchanted ranged,
While colours, forms, proportions changed,
Or sunk in distance undefined,
Still as our devious course inclined,
-And oft we paused, and looked behind.
One little cloud, and only one,
Seemed the pure offspring of the sun,
Flung from his orb to show us here
What clouds adorn his hemisphere;
Unmoved, unchanging in the gale,
That bore the rest o'er hill and dale,
Whose shadowy shapes, with lights around,
Like living motions, swept the ground,
This little cloud, and this alone,
Long in the highest ether shone;
Gay as a warrior's banner spread
Its sunward margin ruby-red,
Green, purple, gold, and every hue
That glitters in the morning dew,
Or glows along the rainbow's form,–
The apparition of the storm.
Deep in its bosom, diamond-bright,
Behind a fleece of pearly white,
It seemed a secret glory dwelt,
Whose presence, while unseen, was felt;
Like Beauty's eye, in slumber hid
Beneath a half-transparent lid,
From whence a sound, a touch, a breath,
Might startle it,-as life from death.
Looks, words, emotions of surprise
Welcomed the stranger to our eyes:
Was it the Phænix, that from earth
In flames of incense sprang to birth ?
Had Ocean from his lap let fly
His loveliest halcyon through the sky?
No:-while we gazed the pageant grew
A nobler object to our view;
We deemed, if heaven with earth would hold
Communion, as in days of old,
Such, on his journey down the sphere,
Benignant Raphael might appear,
In splendid mystery concealed,
Yet by his rich disguise revealed :
That buoyant vapour, in mid-air,
An angel in its folds might bear,
Who, through the curtain of his shrine,
Betrayed his lineaments divine.
The wild, the warm illusion stole,
Like inspiration, o'er the soul,
Till thought was rapture, language hung,
Silent but trembling, on the tongue;
And fancy almost hoped to hail
The Seraph rushing through his veil,
Or hear an awful voice proclaim
The embassy on which he came.
But ah ! no minister of grace
Showed from the firmament his face,
Nor, borne aloof on balanced wings,
Revealed unutterable things.
The sun went down :the vision passed ;
The cloud was but a cloud at last;
Yet when its brilliancy decayed,
The eye still lingered on the shade,
And watching till no longer seen,
Loved it for what it once had been.
That cloud was beautiful-was one
Among a thousand round the sun ;
The thousand shared the common lot;
They came,-they went,--they were forgot;
This fairy form alone impressed
Its perfect image in my breast,
And shines as richly blazoned there
As in its element of air.
The day on which that cloud appeared,
Exhilarating scenes endeared :
The sunshine on the hills, the floods;
The breeze, the twilight of the woods;
Nature in every change of green,
Heaven in unnumbered aspects seen :
Health, spirits, exercise, release
From noise and smoke; twelve hours. of peace;
No fears to haunt, no cares to vex ;
Friends, young and old, of either sex ;
Converse familiar, sportive, kind,
Where heart meets heart, mind quickens mind,
And words and thoughts are all at play,
Like children on a holiday ;-
Till themes celestial rapt the soul
In adoration o'er the pole,
Where stars are darkness in His sight
Who reigns invisible in light,
High above all created things,
The LORD of lords, the King of kings;
Faith, which could thus on wing sublime
Outsoar the bounded flight of time;
Hope full of immortality,
And God in all the eye could see;
These, these endeared that day to me,
And made it, in a thousand ways,
A day among a thousand days,
That share with clouds the common lot;
They come,--they go,--they are forgot:
This, like that plaything of the sun, -
The little, lonely, lovely one,
This lives within me;- this shall be
A part of my eternity.
Amidst the cares, the toils, the strife,
The weariness and waste of life,
That day shall memory oft restore,
And in a moment live it o'er,
When, with a lightning-flash of thought,
Morn, noon, and eve at once are brought,
(As through the vision of a trance)
All in the compass of a glance.
Oh! should I reach a world above, And sometimes think of those I love, Of things on earth too dearly prized, (Nor yet by saints in heaven despised,) Though spirits made perfect may lament Life's holier hours as half misspent, Methinks I could not turn away, The fond remembrance of that day The bright idea of that cloud, (Survivor of a countless crowd,) Without a pause, perhaps a sighTo think such loveliness should die, And clouds and days of storm and gloom Scowl on Man's passage to the tomb. Not so:- I feel I have a heart, Blessings to share, improve, impart, In blithe, severe, or pensive mood, At home, abroad, in solitude, Whatever clouds are on the wing, Whatever day the seasons bring.
That is true happiness below, Which conscience cannot turn to woe; And though such happiness depends Neither on clouds, nor days, nor friends, When friends, and days, and clouds unite, And kindred chords are tuned aright, The harmonies of heaven and earth, Through eye, ear, intellect, give birth To joys too exquisite to last, And yet more exquisite when past!
When the soul summons by a spell
The ghosts of pleasures round her cell,
In saintlier forms than erst they wore,
And smiles benigner than before;
Each loved, lamented scene renews
With warmer touches, tenderer hues;
Recalls kind words for ever flown,
But echoing in a softened tone;
Wakes, with new pulses in the breast,
Feelings forgotten or at rest;
The thought how fugitive and fair,
How dear and precious such things were !
That thought, with gladness more refined,
Deep and transporting, thrills the mind,
Than all those pleasures of an hour,
When most the soul confessed their power.
Bliss in possession will not last;
Remembered joys are never past;
At once the fountain, stream, and sea,
They were,-thy are,--they yet shall be.
WRITTEN AT LEAMINGTON IN 1817, ON VIEWING THE
PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN LADY.
“She was a phantom of delight."-WORDSWORTH.
IMAGE of one who lived of yore !
Hail to that lovely mien-
Once quick and conscious, now no more,
On land or ocean seen ;
Were all earth's breathing forms to pass
Before me in Agrippa's glass, *
Many as fair as thou might be,
But oh! not one-not one like thee !
Thou art no child of Fancy ;-thou
The very look dost wear,
That gave enchantment to a brow
Wreathed with luxuriant hair;