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A melancholy bird ! Oh! idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man whose heart was
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
(And so, poor wretch! fill’d all things with himself,
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrow) he, and such as he,
First named these notes a melancholy strain,
And many a poet echoes the conceit ;
Poet who hath been building up the rhyme
When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs
Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell,
By sun or moon-light, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song
And of his fame forgetful! so his fame
Should share in Nature's immortality,
A venerable thing! and so his song
Should make all Nature lovelier, and itself
Be loved like Nature! But 'twill not be so;
And youths and maidens most poetical,
Who lose the deepening twilights of the spring
In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still
Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs
O’er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.
My Friend, and thou, our Sister! we have learnt A different lore : we may not thus profane Nature's sweet voices, always full of love And joyance ! 'Tis the merry Nightingale That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates
man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton.
With fast thick warble his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to utter forth
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul
Of all its music!
And I know a grove
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge,
Which the great lord inhabits not; and so
This grove is wild with tangling underwood,
And the trim walks are broken
Thin grass and king-cups grow within the paths,
But never elsewhere in one place I knew
So many nightingales; and far and near,
In wood and thicket, over the wide grove,
They answer and provoke each other's song,
With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical and swift jug, jug,
And one low-piping sound more sweet than all —
Stirring the air with such a harmony,
That should you close your eyes, you might almost
Forget it was not day! On moon-lit bushes,
Whose dewy leaflets are but half disclosed,
You may perchance behold them on the twigs,
Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright
and full, Glistening, while many a glow-worm in the shade Lights up her love-torch.
A most gentle Maid, Who dwelleth in her hospitable home Hard by the castle, and at latest eve (Even like a Lady vow'd and dedicate To something more than Nature in the grove) Glides through the pathways; she knows all their
notes, That gentle Maid ! and oft a moment's space,
What time the moon was lost behind a cloud,
Hath heard a pause of silence; till the moon
Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
With one sensation, and these wakeful birds
Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
As if some sudden gale bad swept at once
A hundred airy harps! And she hath watch'd
Many a nightingale perch'd giddily
On blossomy twig still swinging from the breeze,
And to that motion tune his wanton song
Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.
Farewell, O Warbler ! till.to-morrow eve,
And you, my friends ! farewell, a short farewell !
We have been loitering long and pleasantly,
And now for our dear homes.—That strain again!
Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his ear,
His little hand, the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! And I deem it wise
To make him Nature's playmate. He knows well
The evening-star; and once, when he awoke
In most distressful mood (some inward pain
Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream)
I hurried with him to our orchard-plot,
And he beheld the moon, and, hush'd at once,
Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently,
While his fair eyes, that swam with undropp'd tears,
Did glitter in the yellow moon-beam! Well !-
It is a father's tale: But if that Heaven
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up
Familiar with these songs, that with the night
He may associate joy.—Once more, farewell,
Sweet Nightingale! Once more, my friends!
N the greenest of our valleys,
Once a fair and stately palacem
Radiant palace-rear'd its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion
It stood there!
Never seraph waved a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.
Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid
A wingèd odour went away.
Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute's well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne, where sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.
And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door, Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.
But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assail'd the monarch's high estate. (Ah, let us mourn !—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate !) And round about his home the glory
That blush'd and bloom'd, Is but a dim-remember'd story
Of the old time entomb'd.
And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out for ever,
And laugh—but smile no more.
EDGAR A. PoE.
[EVENING SONG OF THE PRIEST
OF PAN.] (FROM THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS.") HEPHERDS all, and maidens fair, Fold your flocks
for the air 'Gins to thicken, and the sun Already his great course hath run. See the dew-drops how they kiss Every little flower that is ;