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To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Lycoris (if such name befit
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign !)
When Nature marks the year's decline, ,
Be ours to welcome it;
Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
Before the path of milder suns;
Pleased while the sylvan world displays
Its ripeness to the feeding gaze;
Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
Of the resplendent miracle.
But something whispers to my heart
That, as we downward tend,
Lycoris ! life requires an art
To which our souls must bend ;
A skill—to balance and supply;
And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
As soon it must, a sense to sip,
Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
Then welcome, above all, the Guest
Whose smiles, diffused o'er land and sea,
Seem to recal the Deity
Of youth into the breast:
May pensive Autumn ne'er present
A claim to her disparagement!
While blossoms and the budding spray
Inspire us in our own decay;
Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!
[TAJS as well as the preceding and the two that follow were
composed in front of Rydal Mount and during my walks in the neighbourhood. Nine-tenths of my verses have been murmured out in the open air : and here let me repeat what I believe has already appeared in print. One day a stranger having walked round the garden and grounds of Rydal Mount asked one of the female servants, who happened to be at the door, permission to see her master's study. “This,” said she, leading him forward, “is my master's library where he keeps his books, but his study is out of doors.” After a long absence from home it has more than once happened that some one of my cottage neighbours has said—“Well, there he is; we are glad to hear him booing about again.' Once more in excuse for so much egotism let me say, these notes are written for my familiar friends, and at their earnest request. Another time a gentleman whom James had conducted through the grounds asked him what kind of plants throve best there : after a little consideration he answered—“Laurels." "That is,” said the stranger, “as it should be ; don't you know that the laurel is the emblem of poetry, and that poets used on public occasions to be crowned with it." James stared when the question was first put, but was doubtless much pleased with the information.]
ENOUGH of climbing toil !-Ambition treads
Here, as 'mid busier scenes, ground steep and rough,
Or slippery even to peril! and each step,
As we for most uncertain recompence
Mount toward the empire of the fickle clouds,
Each weary step, dwarfing the world below,
Induces, for its old familiar sights,
Unacceptable feelings of contempt,
With wonder mixed—that Man could e'er be tied,
In anxious bondage, to such nice array
And formal fellowship of petty things!
--Oh! 'tis the heart that magnifies this life,
Making a truth and beauty of her own;
And moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades,
And gurgling rills, assist ber in the work
More efficaciously than realms outspread,
As in a map, before the adventurer's gaze
Ocean and Earth contending for regard.
The umbrageous woods are left-how far beneath!
But lo! where darkness seems to guard the mouth
Of yon wild cave, whose jagged brows are fringed
With flaccid threads of ivy, in the still
And sultry air, depending motionless.
Yet cool the space within, and not uncheered
(As whoso enters shall ere long perceive)
By stealthy influx of the timid day
Mingling with night, such twilight to compose
As Numa loved; when, in the Egerian grot,
From the sage Nymph appearing at his wish,
He gained whate'er a regal mind might ask,
Or need, of counsel breathed through lips divine.
Long as the heat shall rage, let that dim cave Protect us, there deciphering as we may Diluvian records; or the sighs of Earth Interpreting; or counting for old Time His minutes, by reiterated drops, Audible tears, from some invisible source That deepens upon fancy-more and more Drawn toward the centre whence those sighs creep forth To awe the lightness of humanity: Or, shutting up thyself within thyself, There let me see thee sink into a mood Of gentler thought, protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone,
And no one can tell whither. Dearest Friend!
We too have known such happy hours together
That, were power granted to replace them (fetched
From out the pensive shadows where they lie)
In the first warmth of their original sunshine,
Loth should I be to use it : passing sweet
Are the domains of tender memory!
THE sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
Are hung, as if with golden shields,
Bright trophies of the sun!
Like a fair sister of the sky,
Unruffled doth the blue lake lie,
The mountains looking on.
And, sooth to say, yon vocal grove, ,
Albeit uninspired by love,
By love untaught to ring,
May well afford to mortal ear
An impulse more profoundly dear
Than music of the Spring.
For that from turbulence and heat
Proceeds, from some uneasy. seat
In nature's struggling frame,
Some region of impatient life:
And jealousy, and quivering strife,
Therein a portion claim.
This, this is holy ;-while I hear
of another year,
This hymn of thanks and praise,
My spirit seems to mount above
The anxieties of human love,
And earth's precarious days.
But list !—though winter storms be nigh,
Unchecked is that soft harmony:
There lives Who can provide
For all his creatures ; and in Him,
Even like the radiant Seraphim,
These choristers confide.
DEPARTING summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling
No faint and hesitating trill,
Such tribute as to winter chill
The lonely redbreast pays !
Clear, loud, and lively is the din,
From social warblers gathering in
Their harvest of sweet lays.