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Along the loose rocks, or the slippery verge
Of some smooth ridge, whose brink precipitous
Though waves, to every breeze, its high-arched roof,
In the still summer noon, while beams of light,
Again unfolded, passage clear shall yield
[THE discerning reader-who is aware that in the poem of Ellen Irwin I was desirous of throwing the reader at once out of the old ballad, so as if possible, to preclude a comparison between that mode of dealing with the subject and the mode I meant to adopt-may here perhaps perceive that this poem originated in the four last lines of the first stanza. specks of snow, reflected in the lake and so transferred, as it were, to the subaqueous sky, reminded me of the swans which the fancy of the ancient classic poets yoked to the car of Venus. Hence the tenor of the whole first stanza, and the name of Lycoris, which-with some readers who think my theology and classical allusion too far-fetched and therefore more or less unnatural and affected-will tend to unrealise the sentiment that pervades these verses. But surely one who has written so much in verse as I have done may be allowed to retrace his steps in the regions of fancy which delighted him in his boyhood, when he first became acquainted with the Greek and Roman Poets. Before I read Virgil I was so strongly attached to Ovid, whose Metamorphoses I read at school, that I was quite in a passion whenever I found him, in books of criticism, placed below Virgil. As to Homer, I was never weary of travelling over the scenes through which he led me. Classical literature affected me by its own beauty. But the truths of scripture having been entrusted to the dead languages, and these fountains having been recently laid open at the Reformation, an importance and a sanctity were at that period attached to classical literature that extended, as is obvious in Milton's Lycidas for example, both to its spirit and form in a degree that can never be revived. No doubt the backnied and
lifeless use into which mythology fell towards the close of the 17th century, and which continued through the 18th, disgusted the general reader with all allusion to it in modern verse; and though, in deference to this disgust, and also in a measure participating in it, I abstained in my earlier writings from all introduction of pagan fable, surely, even in its humble form, it may ally itself with real sentiment, as I can truly affirm it did in the present case.]
AN age hath been when Earth was proud
To be sustained; and Mortals bowed
Who then, if Dian's crescent gleamed,
In youth we love the darksome lawn
To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign!)
Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
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
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
Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!
TO THE SAME.
[THIS 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,
Unacceptable feelings of contempt,
With wonder mixed-that Man could e'er be tied,