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ODE TO SUPERSTITION!
While the lone shepherd, near the shipless main,"
Sees o'er her hills advance the long-drawn funeral I. 1.
train. HENCE, to the realms of Night, dire demon, hence!
Thou spakest, and lo! a new creation glow'd.
Each unhewn mass of living stone
Was clad in horrors not its own,
And at its base the trembling nations bow'd. With flashing fury bid his eye-balls shine;
Giant Error, darkly grand, Meek is his savage, sullen soul, to thine!
Grasp'd the globe with iron hand.
Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light Thy touch, thy deadening touch has steel'd the breast,
Saw prostrate worlds adore his golden height Whence, through her April-shower, soft Pity smiled;
The statue, waking with immortal powers, Has closed the heart each godlike virtue bless'd,
Springs from its parent earth, and shakes the
spheres ; To all the silent pleadings of his child.?
The indignant pyramid sublimely towers, At thy command he plants the dagger deep,
And braves the efforts of a host of years. At thy command exults, though Nature bids him weep!
Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind; 1. 2.
And bright-eyed Painting stamps the image of the When, with a frown that froze the peopled earth,
mind. Thou dartedst thy huge head from high,
II. 2. Night waved her banners o'er the sky,
Round their rude ark old Egypt's sorcerers rise! And, brooding, gave her shapeless shadows birth,
A timbrellid anthem swells the gale, Rocking on the billowy air,
And bids the God of Thunders hail;:
With lowings loud the captive God replies.
Scaly monarch of the Nile !
But ah! what myriads claim the bended knee! Points to the murderer's stab, and shudders by;
Go, count the busy drops that swell the sea. In every grove is felt a heavier gloom,
Proud land! what eye can trace thy mystic lore, That veils its genius from the vulgar eye:
Lock'd up in characters as dark as night? The spirit of the water rides the storm,
What eye those long, long labyrinths dare explore," And, through the mist, reveals the terrors of his form.
To which the parted soul oft wings her flight;
Again to visit her cold cell of clay,
Charm'd with perennial sweets, and smiling at decay?
II. 3. The fur-clad savage, ere he guides his deer
On yon hoar summit, mildly bright By glistering star-light through the snow,
With purple ether's liquid light, Breathes softly in her wondering ear
High o'er the world, the white-robed Magi gaze Each potent spell thou badest him know.
On dazzling bursts of heavenly fire ; By thee inspired, on India's sands,
Start at each blue, portentous blaze, Full in the sun the Bramin stands;
Each flame that fits with adverse spire. And, while the panting tigress hies
But say, what sounds my ear invade To quench her fever in the stream,
From Delphi's venerable shade? His spirit laughs in agonies,
The temple rocks, the laurel waves! Smit by the scorchings of the noontide beam. “The God! the God!" the Sibyl cries." Mark who mounts the sacred pyre,*
Her figure swells, she foams, she raves! Blooming in her bridal vest :
Her figure swells to more that mortal size!
Streams of rapture roll along,
Silver notes ascend the skies :
Wake, Echo, wake and catch the song,
Oh catch it, ere it dies !
1 An allusion to the Second-sight. And, wrapt in clouds, in tempests tost,
2 See that fine description of the sudden animation of the Weave the airy web of Fate;
Palladium, in the second book of the Æneid.
4 The Crocodile.
5 According to an ancient proverb, it was less difficult ia i Written in early youth.
Egypt to find a god than a man. 2 The sacrifice of Iphigenia.
6 The Hieroglyphics.
7 The Catacombs 3 Lucretius, I. 63.
8 "The Persians," says Herodotus, "have no temples, altar 4 The funeral rite of the Hindoos.
or statues. They sacrifice on the tops of the highest mountains." 5 The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See Mallet's An- I. 131. tiquities.
I Æn. VL. 46, etc.
The Sibyl speaks, the dream is o'er,
Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above, The holy harpings charm no more.
And lo! it visits man with beams of light and love, In vain she checks the God's control;
His madding spirit fills her frame, And moulds the features of her soul,
VERSES Breathing a prophetic flame. The cavern frowns; its hundred mouths unclose! WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY MRS. SIDDONS." And in the thunder's voice, the fate of empire flows!
Yes, 't is the pulse of life! my fears were vain III. 1.
I wake, I breathe, and am myself again. Mona, thy Druid-rites awake the dead!
Still in this nether world ; no seraph yet! Rites thy brown oaks would never dare
Nor walks my spirit, when the sun is set, Even whisper to the idle air;
With troubled step to haunt the fatal board, Rites that have chain'd old Ocean on his bed.
Where I died last—by poison or the sword; Shiver'd by thy piercing glance
Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night Pointless falls the hero's lance.
Done here so oft by dim and doubtful light. Thy magic bids the imperial eagle fly,'
-To drop all metaphor, that little bell And blasts the laureate wreath of victory.
Callid back reality, and broke the spell. Hark, the bard's soul inspires the vocal string ! No heroine claims your tears with tragic tone; At every pause dread Silence hovers o'er:
A very woman-scarce restrains her own! While murky Night sails round on raven-wing,
Can she, with fiction, charm the cheated mind, Deepening the tempest's howl, the torrent's roar;
When to be grateful is the part assign'd? Chased by the Morn from Snowdon's awful brow,
Ah no! she scorns the trappings of her Art; Where late she sate and scowl'd on the black wave
No theme but truth, no prompter but the heart ! below.
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask ?
Is here no other actress ? let me ask.
Know every Woman studies stage-effect. And mow through infancy and age;
She moulds her manners to the part she fills, Then kiss the sacred dust and melt in tears.
As Instinct teaches, or as Humor wills ; Veiling from the eye of day,
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls, Penance dreams her life away ;
Acts in the drama till the curtain falls. In cloister'd solitude she sits and sighs,
First, how her little breast with triumph swels While from each shrine still, small responses rise. When the red coral rings its golden bells ! Hear, with what heart-felt beat, the midnight-bell
To play in pantomime is then the rage, Swings its slow summons through the hollow pile!
Along the carpet's many-color'd stage; The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight-cell,
Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavor, To walk, with taper dim, the winding aisle ; Now here, now there-in noise and mischief ever With choral chantings vainly to aspire,
A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture's wing of fire. And mimics father's gout, and mother's vapors; III. 3.
Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances ; Lord of each pang the nerves can feel,
Playful at church, and serious when she dances; Hence with the rack and reeking wheel.
Tramples alike on customs and on toes, Faith lifts the soul above this little ball!
And whispers all she hears to all she knows ; While gleams of glory open round,
Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions ! And circling choirs of angels call,
A romp! that longest of perpetual motions ! Canst thou, with all thy terrors crown'd,
-Till tamed and tortured into foreign graces, Hope to obscure that latent spark,
She sports her lovely face at public places ; Destined to shine when suns are dark ?
And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan, Thy triumphs cease! through every land,
First acts her part with that great actor, MAN. Hark! Truth proclaims, thy triumphs cease! Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies ! Her heavenly form, with glowing hand,
Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs! Benignly points to piety and peace.
Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice; Flush'd with youth her looks impart
Till fading beauty hints the late advice. Each fine feeling as it flows;
Her prudence dictates what her pride disdain'd, Her voice the echo of a heart
And now she sues to slaves herself had chain'd! Pure as the mountain-snows :
Then comes that good old character, a Wife, Celestial transports round her play,
With all the dear distracting cares of life; And softly, sweetly die away.
A thousand cards a day at doors to leave, She smiles! and where is now the cloud
And, in return, a thousand cards receive; That blackend o'er thy baleful reign?
Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire, Grim darkness furls his leaden shroud,
With nightly blaze set Portland-place on fire ; Shrinking from her glance in vain.
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
A meteor, traced by none, though seen by all : 1 See Tacitus, l. xiv, c. 29. 2 This remarkable event happened at the siege and sack of Jerusalem, in the last year of the eleventh century. Matth. 1 After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Paris, p. 34.
Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.
FROM EURIPIDES. THERE is a streamlet issuing from a rock. The village-girls, singing wild madrigals, Dip their white vestments in its waters clear, And hang them to the sun. There first I saw her Her dark and eloquent eyes, mild, full of fire, "T was heaven to look upon; and her sweet voice As tunable as harp of many strings, At once spoke joy and sadness to my soul!
And, when her shatter'd nerves forbid to roam, In very spleen—rehearse the girls at home.
Last, the grey Dowager, in ancient Rounces, With snuff and spectacles the age denounces; Boasts how the Sires of this degenerate Isle Knelt for a look, and duell'd for a smile. The scourge and ridicule of Goth and Vandal, Her tea she sweetens, as she sips, with scandal ; With modern Belles eternal warfare wages, Like her own birds that clamor from their cages; And shuffles round to bear her tale to all, Like some old Ruin, “ nodding to its fall!"
Thus Woman makes her entrance and her exit; Not least an actress, when she least suspects it Yet Nature oft peeps out and mars the plot, Each lesson lost, each poor pretence forgot ; Full oft, with energy that scorns control, At once lights up the features of the soul; Unlocks each thought chain'd down by coward Art, And to full day the latent passions start!
--And she, whose first, best wish is your applause, Herself exemplifies the truth she draws. Born on the stage-through every shifting scene, Obscure or bright, tempestuous or serene, Still has your smile her trembling spirit fired! And can she act, with thoughts like these inspired ? Thus from her mind all artifice she flings, All skill, all practice, now unmeaning things! To you, uncheck d, each genuine feeling flows; For all that life endears—to you she owes.
Dear is that valley to the murmuring bees;
As in the shining grass she sate conceald,
CAPTIVITY. Caged in old woods, whose reverend echoes wake When the hern screams along the distant lake, Her little heart oft flutters to be free, Oft sighs to turn the unrelenting key. In vain! the nurse that rusted relic wears, Nor moved by gold-nor to be moved by tears; And terraced walls their black reflection throw On the green-mantled moat that sleeps below.
Oh of you knew the pensive pleasure
But lo, at last he comes with crowded sail!
-Tis she, 'tis she herself! she waves her hand! Yet has she fled the life of bliss below,
That youthful Hope in bright perspective drew? Soon through the wiritening surge he springs to land, False were the tints ! false as the severish glow And clasps the maid he singled from the world. That o'er her burning cheek Distemper threw!
And now in joy she dwells, in glory moves ! TO AN OLD OAK.
(Glory and joy reserved for you to share.)
Far, far more blest in blessing those she loves
Than they, alas! unconscious of her care.
ON A TEAR.
Oh! that the Chemist's magic art Yet within thee, thyself a grove,
Could crystallize this sacred treasure !
Long should it glitter near my heart,
A secret source of pensive pleasure
Vane, quid affectas faciem mibi ponere, pictor ?
TO TWO SISTERS."
Enchantress of the soul,
- Yet whither, whither didst thou fly?
Perhaps to many a desert shore,
1 The law of gravitation.
1 On the death of a younger sister.
2 In the winter of 1805
Arrested in the realms of Frost,
Yet round her couch indulgent Fancy drew Or in the wilds of Ether lost.
The kindred forms her closing eye required. Far happier thou! 't was thine to soar, There didst thou stand—there, with the smile she Careering on the winged wind.
knew, Thy triumphs who shall dare explore ? She moved her lips to bless thee, and expired. Suns and their systems left behind.
And now to thee she comes ; still, still the same No tract of space, no distant star,
As in the hours gone unregarded by! No shock of elements at war,
To thee, how changed ! comes as she ever came, Did thee detain. Thy wing of fire
Health on her cheek, and pleasure in her eye! Bore thee amidst the Cherub-choir ; And there awhile to thee 't was given Nor less, less oft, as on that day, appears, Once more that Voice' beloved to join, When lingering, as prophetic of the truth, Which taught thee first a flight divine, By the way-side she shed her parting tearsAnd nursed thy infant years with many a strain For ever lovely in the light of Youth!
FROM A GREEK EPIGRAM.
WRITTEN IN A SICK CHAMBER.
He stirs—yet still he sleeps. May heavenly dreams
Till through the shutter'd pane the morning streams
TO THE FRAGMENT OF A STATUE OF HERCULES,
THE BOY OF EGREMOND.'
“Say, what remains when Hope is filed ?" (Thy giant limbs to night and chaos hurlu),
She answer'd, “Endless weeping !" Still sit as on the fragment of a world ;
For in the herdsman's eye she read
Who in his shroud lay sleeping.
At Embsay rung the matin-bell,
The stag was roused on Barden-fell; Smote thee with fury, and thy headless trunk
The mingled sounds were swelling, dying, Deep in the dust 'mid tower and temple sunk;
And down the Wharfe a hern was fying ; Soon to subdue mankind 't was thine to rise,
When near the cabin in the wood, Still, still unquell'd thy glorious energies !
In tartan clad and forest-green, Aspiring minds, with thee conversing, caught ?
With hound in leash and hawk in hood, Bright revelations of the Good they sought;
The Boy of Egremond was seen. By thee that long-lost spell’ in secret given,
Blithe was his song, a song of yore;
But where the rock is rent in two,
His voice was heard no more!
"T was but a step! the gulf he passid ;
But that step—it was his last !
(A cloud that hovers night and day), When mountain-glens and caverns full of night The hound hung back, and back he drew O'er her young mind divine enchantment threw, The Master and his merlin too.
That narrow place of noise and strise That in her veins a secret horror slept,
Received their little all of Life!
There now the matin-bell is rung;
1 In the twelfth century William Fitz-Duncan laid waste the 1 Mrs. Sheridan's.
valleys of Craven with fire and sword; and was afterwards 2 In the gardens of the Vatican, where it was placed by Ju-established there by his uncle, David, King of Scotland.
He was the last of the race; his son, commonly called the Boy lius II. it was long the favorite study of those great men to of Egremond, dying before him in the manner here related ; whom we owe the revival of the arts, Michael Angelo, Raphael, when a Priory was removed from Embsay to Bolton, that it and the Carracci.
might be as near as possible to the place where the accident 3 Once in the possession of Praxiteles, if we may believe an happened. That place is still known by the name of the Strid; ancient epigram on the Guidian Venus.-Analecta Vet. Poeta- and the mother's answer, as given in the first stanza, is to this rum, III. 200.
day often repeated in Wharfedale.See Whitaker's Hist. of 4 On the death of her sister.