Page images
PDF
EPUB

Have caused her to abate the virgin pride,
And that full trim of inexperienced hope
With which she left her haven? not for this,
Should the sun strike her, and th' impartial breeze
Play on her streamers, fails she to assume
Brightness and touching beauty of her own,
That charm all eyes. So bright, so fair, appear'd
This goodly Matron, shining in the beams
Of unexpected pleasure. - Soon the board
Was spread, and we partook a plain repast.

Here, resting in cool shelter, we beguiled
The mid-day hours with desultory talk;
From trivial themes to general argument
Passing, as accident or fancy led,
Or courtesy prescribed. While question rose
And answer flow'd, the fetters of reserve
Dropping from every mind, the Solitary
Resumed the manners of his happier days;
And in the various conversation bore
A willing, nay, at times, a forward part;
Yet with the grace of one who in the world
Had learn’d the art of pleasing, and had now
Occasion given him to display his skill,
Upon the steadfast 'vantage-ground of truth.
He gazed, with admiration unsuppress'd,
Upon the landscape of the sun-bright vale,
Seen, from the shady room in which we sate,
In soften'd perspective; and more than once
Praised the consummate harmony serene
Of gravity and elegance, diffused
Around the mansion and its whole domain;
Not, doubtless, without help of female taste
And female care.

“ A blessèd lot is yours!”
The words escaped his lip, with a tender sigh
Breathed over them: but suddenly the door
Flew open, and a pair of lusty Boys
Appeard, confusion checking their delight. ----
Not brothers they in feature or attire,
But fond companions, so I guess'd, in field,
And by the river's margin, — whence they come,
Keen anglers with unusual spoil elated.
One bears a willow-pannier on his back,
The boy of plainer garb, whose blush survives
More deeply tinged. Twin might the other be
To that fair girl who from the garden-mount
Bounded :— triumphant entry this for him!

Between his hands he holds a smooth blue stone,
On whose capacious surface see outspread
Large store of gleaming crimson-spotted trouts;
Ranged side by side, and lessening by degrees
Up to the dwarf that tops the pinnacle.
Upon the board he lays the sky-blue stone
With its rich freight; their number he proclaims;
Tells from what pool the noblest had been dragg’d;
And where the very monarch of the brook,
After long struggle, had escaped at last, -
Stealing alternately at them and us
(As doth his comrade too) a look of pride:
And, verily, the silent creatures made
A splendid sight, together thus exposed;
Dead, but not sullied or deform'd by death,
That seem'd to pity what he could not spare.

But, 0, the animation in the mien
Of those two boys! yea in the very words
With which the young narrator was inspired,
When, as our questions led, he told at large
Of that day's prowess! Him might I compare,
His looks, tones, gestures, eager eloquence,
To a bold brook that splits for better speed,
And at the self-same moment works its way
Through many channels, ever and anon
Parted and re-united: his compeer,
To the still lake, whose stillness-is to sight
As beautiful, — as grateful to the mind.
But to what object shall the lovely Girl
Be liken'd ?- she whose countenance and air
Unite the graceful qualities of both,
Even as she shares the pride and joy of both.

My grey-hair'd Friend was moved'; his vivid eye
Glisten’d with tenderness; his mind, I knew,
Was full; and had, I doubted not, return'l,
Upon this impulse, to the theme -erewhile
Abruptly broken off. The ruddy boys
Withdrew, on summons to their well-earn’d meal;
And He, - to whom all tongues resign'd their rights
With willingness, to whom the general car
Listen'd with readier patience than to strain
Of music, lute or harp, a long delight
That ceased not when his voice had ceased,-
Who from truth's central point serenely views
The compass of his argument, began
Mildly, and with a clear and steady tone.

as one

BOOK NINTH.

DISCOURSE OF THE WANDERER, AND AN EVENING VISIT TO

THE LAKE.
“To every Form of being is assign'd,"
Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage,
An active Principle:-howe'er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and th' invisible air.
Whate’er exists hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mix'd;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,
No chasm, no solitude; from link to link
It circulates, the Soul of all the worlds,
This is the freedom of the universe;
Unfolded still the more, more visible,
The more we know; and yet is reverenced least,
And least respected in the human Mind,
Its most apparent home. The food of hope
Is meditated action » robb'd of this
Her sole support, she languishes and dies.
We perish also; for we live by hope
And by desire; we see by the glad light
And breathe the sweet air of futurity;
And so we live, or else we have no life.
To-morrow — nay perchance this very hour
(For every moment hath its own to-morrow!)
T'hose blooming Boys, whose hearts are almost sick
With present triumph, will be sure to find
A field before them freshen’d with the dew
Of other expectations; - in which course
Their happy year spins round. The youth obeys
A like glad impulse; and so moves the man
'Mid all his apprehensions, cares, and fears, -
Or so he ought to move. Ah! why in age
Do we revert so fondly to the walks
Of childhood, but that there the Soul discerns
The dear memorial footsteps unimpair'd
Of her own native vigour; thence can hear

Reverberations; and a choral song,
Commingling with the incense that ascends,
Undaunted, toward th' imperishable heavens
From her own lonely altar?

Do not think
The good and wise ever will be allow'd,
Though strength decay, to breathe in such estate
As shall divide them wholly from the stir
Of hopeful nature. Rightly is it said
That Man descends into the VALE of years;
Yet have I thought that we might also speak,
And not presumptuously, I trust, of Age,
As of a final EMINENCE; though bare
In aspect and forbidding, yet a point
On which 'tis not impossible to sit
In awful sovereignty; a place of power,
A throne, that may be liken’d unto his
Who, in some placid day of Summer, looks
Down from a mountain-top,

say one of those
High peaks that bound the vale where now we are.
Faint, and diminish'd to the gazing eye,
Forest and field, and hill and dale appear,
With all the shapes over their surface spread:
But, while the gross and visible frame of things
Relinquishes its hold upon the sense,
Yea, almost on the Mind herself, and seems
All unsubstantialized, — how loud the voice
Of waters, with invigorated peal
From the full river in the vale below,
Ascending! For on that superior height
Who sits, is disencumber'd from the press
Of near obstructions, and is privileged
To breathe in solitude, above the host
Of ever-humming insects, ʼmid thin air
That suits not them. The murmur of the leaves
Many and idle visits not his ear:
This he is freed from, and from thousand notes
(Not less unceasing, not less vain than these)
By which the finer passages of sense
Are occupied; and the Soul, that would incline
To listen, is prevented or deterr'd.

And may it not be hoped that, placed by age
In liké removal, tranquil though severe,
We are not so removed for utter loss;
But for some favour, suited to our need?
What more than that the severing should confer

Fresh power to commune with th' izvisille world,
And hear the mighty stream of tendency
Uttering, for elevation of our thought,
A clear sonorous voice, inandible
To the vast multitude; whose doom it is
To run the giddy round of vain delight,
Or fret and labour on the Plain below.

But, if to such sublime ascent the hopes
Of Man may rise, as to a welcome close
And termination of his mortal course;
Them only can such hope inspire whose minds
Have not been starved by absolute neglect;
Nor bodies crush'd by unremitting toil;
To whom kind Nature therefore may afford
Proof of the sacred love she bears for all;
Whose birthright Reason therefore may ensure.
For me, consulting what I feel within,
In times when most existence with herself
Is satisfied, I cannot but believe
That, far as kindly Nature hath free scope
And Reason's sway predominates, even so far
Country, society, and time itself,
That saps the individual's bodily frame,
And lays the generations low in dust,
Do, by-th' almighty Ruler's grace, partake
Of one maternal spirit, bringing forth
And cherishing with ever-constant love,
That tires not, nor ys. Our life is turn'd
Out of her course, wherever man is made
An offering or a sacrifice, a tool
Or implement, a passive thing employ'd
As a brute mean, without acknowledgment
Of common right or interest in the end;
Used or abused, as selfishness may prompt.
Say, what can follow for a rational soul
Perverted thus, but weakness in all good,
And strength in evil? Hence an after-call
For chastisement, and custody, and bonds,
And oft-times Death, avenger of the past,
And the sole guardian in whose hands we dare
Entrust the future. Not for these sad issues
Was Man created; but to obey the law
Of life, and hope, and action. And 'tis known
That when we stand upon our native soil,
Unelbow'd by such objects as oppress
Our active powers, those powers themselves become

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »