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The north cannot undo them,
From EPISTLE TO REYNOLDS
O that our dreamings all, of sleep or
wake, Would all their colors from the sunset
take, From something of material sublime, Rather than shadow our own soul's day
time In the dark void of night. For in the
world We jostle
But my flag is not unfurled On the Admiral-staff; and so philosophize I dare not yet! Oh, never will the prize, High reason, and the love of good and
ill, Be my award! Things cannot to the will Be settled, but they tease
thought; Or is it that imagination brought Beyond its proper bound, yet still confined, Lost in a sort of Purgatory blind, Cannot refer to any standard law Of either earth or heaven? It is a flaw In happiness, to see beyond our bourn, – It forces us in summer skies to mourn, It spoils the singing of the Nightingale. 85
WHEN I HAVE FEARS THAT I MAY CEASE TO BE
Dear Reynolds! I have a mysterious
tale, And cannot speak it. The first page I
read Upon a lampit rock of green sea-weed Among the breakers: 'twas a quiet eve, The rocks were silent, the wide sea did
When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has gleaned my teeming
brain, Before high-piled books, in charact'ry, Hold like rich garners the full ripened
grain; When I behold, upon the night's starred
face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of
chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an
hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, 10 Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love; -- then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to nothingness do
Still am I sick of it; and tho', today,
Of the leaves of many years:
100 Frozen North, and chilling East,
the hawk at Since men knew nor rent nor leases. pounce, The gentle robin, like a pard or ounce, Ravening a Away,
No, the bugle sounds no more, moods!
And the twanging bow no more;
105 Moods of one's mind! You know I hate
Silent is the ivory shrill them well.
Past the heath and up the hill;
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone Echo gives the half
To some wight, amazed to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.
On the fairest time of June
You may go, with sun or moon,
Or the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you;
But you never may behold
Little John, or Robin bold;
Never one, of all the clan,
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile
To fair hostess Merriment, Seek as they once were sought, in Grecian
Down beside the pasture Trent; isles,
For he left the merry tale By bards who died content on pleasant Messenger for spicy ale.
sward, Leaving great verse unto a little clan?
Gone, the merry morris din; O, give me their old vigor, and unheard
Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Save of the quiet Primrose, and the
Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
Idling in the "grenè shawe”;
All are gone away and past!
And if Robin should be cast
Sudden from his turfèd grave,
And if Marian should have
Once again her forest days,
She would weep, and he would craze:
- for all his oaks, (1818)
Fallen beneath the dockyard strokes, No! those days are gone away,
Have rotted on the briny seas; And their hours are old and gray,
She would weep that her wild bees And their minutes buried all
Sang not to her — strange! that honey Under the down-trodden pall
Can't be got without hard money!
So it is: yet let us sing, Honor to the old bow-string! Honor to the bugle-horn! Honor to the woods unshorn! Honor to the Lincoln green! Honor to the archer keen! Honor to tight Little John, And the horse he rode upon! Honor to bold Robin Hood, Sleeping in the underwood ! Honor to Maid Marian, And to all the Sherwood-clan! Though their days have hurried by, Let us two a burden try.
Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
LINES ON THE MERMAID TAVERN
Thus ye live on high, and then On the earth ye live again; And the souls ye left behind you Teach us, here, the way to find you, Where your other souls are joying, Never slumbered, never cloying. Here, your earth-born souls still speak To mortals, of their little week: Of their sorrows and delights; Of their passions and their spites; Of their glory and their shame; What doth strengthen and what maim. Thus ye teach us, every day, Wisdom, though fled far away.
Souls of Poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
Bards of Passion and of Mirth, Ye have left your souls on earth! Ye have souls in heaven too, Double-lived in regions new!
'Tis the early April lark, (1818)
Or the rooks, with busy caw,
Foraging for sticks and straw. Ever let the Fancy roam,
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold Pleasure never is at home.
The daisy and the marigold; At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
White-plumed lilies, and the first Like to bubbles when rain pelteth; Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst; 50 Then let winged Fancy wander
5 Shaded hyacinth, alway Through the thought still spread beyond Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
And every leaf, and every flower, Open wide the mind's cage-door,
Pearlèd with the self-same shower. She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar. Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep 55
Meagre from its celled sleep; O sweet Fancy! let her loose:
And the snake all winter-thin Summer's joys are spoilt by use,
Cast on sunny bank its skin. And the enjoying of the Spring
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see Fades as does its blossoming;
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the henbird's wing doth rest
Then the hurry and alarm
When the bee-hive casts its swarm; The sear fagot blazes bright,
Acorns ripe down-pattering,
While the autumn breezes sing.
Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Every thing is spoilt by use: When the Night doth meet the Noon Where's the cheek that doth not fade, In a dark conspiracy
Too much gazed at? Where's the maid 70 To banish Even from her sky.
Whose lip mature is ever new? Sit thee there, and send abroad,
25 Where's the eye, however blue, With a mind self-overawed,
Doth not weary? Where's the face Fancy, high-commissioned - send her! One would meet in every place? She has vassals to attend her:
Where's the voice, however soft, 75 She will bring, in spite of frost,
One would hear so very oft? Beauties that the earth hath lost;
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth She will bring thee, all together,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth. All delights of summer weather;
Let, then, winged Fancy find All the buds and bells of May,
Thee a mistress to thy mind: Frow dewy sward or thorny spray; Dulcet-eyed as Ceres' daughter, All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
Ere the God of Torment taught her With a still, mysterious stealth.
How to frown and how to chide;
With a waist and with a side She will mix these pleasures up
White as Hebe's, when her zone Like three fit wines in a cup,
Slipped its golden clasp, and down And thou shalt quaff it — thou shalt hear Fell her kirtle to her feet, Distant harvest-carols clear;
While she held the goblet sweet, Rustle of the reaped corn;
And Jove grew languid. — Break the Sweet birds antheming the morn;
mesh And, in the same moment — hark!
Of the Fancy's silken leash;