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Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover,
Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
The purple Midnight veild that mystic meeting
With her most starry canopy, and seating
Thyself by thine adorer, what befel ?
This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting
Of an enamoured Goddess, and the cell
Haunted by holy Love — the earliest oracle !
And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying,
Blend a celestial with a human heart;
And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing,
Share with immortal transports ? could thine art
Make them indeed immortal, and impart
The purity of heaven to earthly joys,
Expel the venom and not blunt the dart -
The dull satiety which all destroys
And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys ?
Alas! our young affections run to waste
Or water but the desert; whence arise
But weeds of dark luxuriance, tares of haste,
Rank at the core, though tempting to the eyes,
Flowers whose wild odours breathe but agonies,
And trees whose gums are poison ; such the plants
Which spring beneath her steps as Passion flies
O’er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants
For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.
Oh Love! no habitant of earth thou art.
An unseen seraph, we believe in thee,
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart,
But never yet hath seen, nor e’er shall see
The naked eye, thy form, as it should be ;
The mind hath made thee, as it peopled heaven,
Even with its own desiring phantasy,
And to a thought such shape and image given, As haunts the unquench'd soul -- parch'd -- wearied -wrung
Of its own beauty is the mind diseased, idralisn And fevers into false creation : where,
Where are the forms the sculptor's soul hath seized ?
In him alone. Can Nature show so fair ?
Where are the charms and virtues which we dare
Conceive in boyhood and pursue as men,
The unreach'd Paradise of our despair,
Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen,
And overpowers the page where it would bloom again?
Who loves, raves 'tis youth's frenzy — but the cure
Is bitterer still; as charm by charm unwinds
Which robed our idols, and we see too sure
Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's
Ideal shape of such ; yet still it binds
The fatal spell
, and still it draws us on,
Reaping the whirlwind from the oft-sown winds;
The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun,
Seems ever near the prize — wealthiest when most undone.
We wither from our youth, we gasp away
Sick - sick; unfound the boon unslaked the thirst,
Though to the last, in verge of our decay,
Some phantom lures, such as we sought at first-
But all too late, - so are we doubly curst.
Love, fame, ambition, avarice.
Each idle - and all ill — and none the worst -
For all are meteors with a different name,
And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.
find what they love or could have loved,
Though accident, blind contact, and the strong
Necessity of loving, have removed
Antipathies — but to recur, ere long,
Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong ;
And Circumstance, that unspiritual god
And miscreator, makes and helps along
Our coming evils with a crutch-like rod,
Whose touch turns Hope to dust, — the dust we all have trod.
Our life is a false nature - 'tis not in
The harmony of things, this hard decree,
This uneradicable taint of sin,
This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree,
Whose root is earth, whose leaves and branches be
The skies which rain their plagues on men like dew
Disease, death, bondage — all the woes we see
And worse, the woes we see not · which throb through
The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.
Yet let us ponder boldly -- 'tis a base (TM)
Abandonment of reason to resign
Our right of thought - our last and only place
Of refuge ; this, at least, shall still be mine :
Though from our birth the faculty divine
Is chain'd and tortured - cabin’d, cribb’d, confined,
And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine
Too brightly on the unprepared mind,
The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the blind.
Arches on arches ! as it were that Rome,
Collecting the chief trophies of her line,
Would build up all her triumphs in one dome,
Her Coliseum stands; the moonbeams shine
As 'twere its natural torches, for divine
Should be the light which streams here, to illume
This long-explored but still exhaustless mine
Of contemplation ; and the azure gloom
Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume
(1) " At all events,” says the author of the Academical Questions, “ I trust, whatever may be the fate of my own speculations, that philosophy will regain that estimation which it ought to possess. The free and philosophic spirit of our nation has been the theme of admiration to the world. This was the proud distinction of Englishmen, and the luminous source of all their glory. Shall we then forget the manly and dignified sentiments of our ancestors, to prate in the language of the mother or the nurse about our good old prejudices? This is not the way to defend the cause of truth. It was not thus that our fathers maintained it in the brilliant periods of our history. Prejudice may be trusted to guard the outworks for a short space of time, while reason slumbers in the citadel; but if the latter sink into a lethargy, the former will quickly erect a standard for herself. Philosophy, wisdom, and liberty, support each other: he who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot, is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave.” Preface, p. xiv, xv. vol. i. 1805.
Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven,
Floats o'er this vast and wondrous monument,
And shadows forth its glory. There is given
Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent,
A spirit's feeling, and where he hath leant
His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power
And magic in the ruin'd battlement,
For which the palace of the present hour
Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower.
Oh Time! the beautifier of the dead,
Adorner of the ruin, comforter
And only healer when the heart hath bled
Time! the corrector where our judgments err,
The test of truth, love, - sole philosopher,
For all beside are sophists, from thy thrift,
Which never loses though it doth defer
Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift
My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift :
Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine
And temple more divinely desolate,
Among thy mightier offerings here are mine,
Ruins of years -- though few, yet full of fate :
If thou hast ever seen me too elate,
Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne
Good, and reserved my pride against the hate
Which shall not whelm me, let me not have worn
This iron in my soul in vain — shall they not mourn ?
And thou, who never yet of human wrong
Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis ! (-)
Here, where the ancient paid thee homage long --
Thou, who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss
For that unnatural retribution — just,
Had it but been from hands less near than this
Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust!
Dost thou not hear my heart? · Awake! thou shalt, and
(1) See “ Historical Notes," at the end of this canto, No. XXVIU.
сxxxІ. . It is not that I may not have incurr'd For my ancestral faults or mine the wound I bleed withal, and, had it been conferr'd With a just weapon, it had flow'd unbound; But now my blood shall not sink in the ground; To thee I do devote it- thou shalt take The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and found,
Which if I have not taken for the sake But let that pass
I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.
And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now
I shrink from what it suffer'd : let him speak
Who hath beheld decline upon my brow,
Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak;
But in this page a record will I seek.
Not in the air shall these my words disperse,
Though I be ashes ; a far hour shall wreak
The deep prophetic fulness of this verse,
And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse !
That curse shall be Forgiveness. Have I not
Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven!
Have I not had wrestle with my lot?
Have I not suffer'd things to be forgiven?
Have I not had my brain sear’d, my heart riven,
Hopes sapp'd, name blighted, Life's life lied away?
And only not to desperation driven,
Because not altogether of such clay
As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy
Have I not seen what human things could do ?
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
To the small whisper of the as paltry few,
And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
The Janus glance of whose significant eye,
Learning to lie with silence, would seem true,
And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh,
Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy.