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Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size, And glittering cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise. 54 Thence musing onward to the sounding shore
The lone enthusiast oft would take his way,
Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar
Of the wide-weltering waves. In black array,
When sulphurous clouds roll'd on th' autumnal day,
Even then he hasten'd from the haunt of man,
Along the trembling wilderness to stray,
What time the lightning's fierce career began, And o'er heaven's rending arch the rattling thunder ran. 55 Responsive to the lively pipe, when all
In sprightly dance the village youth were join'd,
Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall,
From the rude gambol far remote reclined,
Soothed with the soft notes warbling in the wind :
Ah! then all jollity seem'd noise and folly,
To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refined ;
Ah! what is mirth but turbulence unholy, When with the charm compared of heavenly melancholy? 56 Is there a heart that music cannot melt?
Alas ! how is that rugged heart forlorn!
Is there who ne'er those mystic transports felt
Of solitude and melancholy born ?
He needs not woo the Muse; he is her scorn:
The sophist's rope of cobweb he shall twine;
Mope o'er the schoolman's peevish page; or mourn,
And delve for life in Mammon’s dirty mine; Sneak with the scoundrel fox, or grunt with glutton swine. 57 For Edwin, Fate a nobler doom had plann'd;
Song was his favourite and first pursuit:
The wild harp rang to his adventurous hand,
And languish'd to his breath the plaintive flute.
His infant Muse, though artless, was not mute:
Of elegance as yet he took no care ;
For this of time and culture is the fruit;
And Edwin gain'd at last this fruit so rare:
As in some future verse I
purpose to declare. 58 Meanwhile, whate'er of beautiful or new,
Sublime or dreadful, in earth, sea, or sky,
By chance or search, was offer'd to his view,
He scann'd with curious and romantic eye.
Whate'er of lore tradition could supply
From Gothic tale, or song, or fable old,
Roused him, still keen to listen and to pry:
At last, though long by penury controllid And solitude, his soul her graces 'gan unfold. 59 Thus on the chill Lapponian's dreary land,
For many a long month lost in snow profound,
When Sol from Cancer sends the season bland,
And in their northern caves the storms are bound;
From silent mountains, straight, with startling sound,
Torrents are hurl’d; green hills emerge; and, lo!
The trees with foliage, cliffs with flowers are crown'd;
Pure rills through vales of verdure warbling go;
And wonder, love, and joy, the peasant's heart o'erflow.
60 Here pause, my Gothic lyre, a little while;
The leisure hour is all that thou canst claim: But on this verse if Montagu should smile, New strains ere long shall animate thy frame: And her applause to me is more than fame; For still with truth accords her taste refined. At lucre or renown let others aim, I only wish to please the gentle mind, Whom Nature's charms inspire, and love of humankind.
1 Or chance or change, 0, let not man complain,
Else shall he never, never cease to wail;
For, from th’imperial dome to where the swain
Rears the lone cottage in the silent dale,
All feel th' assault of Fortune's fickle gale;
Art, empire, Earth itself, to change are doom'd:
Earthquakes have raised to Heaven the humble vale,
And gulfs the mountain's mighty mass entomb’d;
And where th’ Atlantic rolls wide continents have bloom'd.
2 But sure to foreign climes we need not range,
Nor search the ancient records of our race,
To learn the dire effects of time and change,
Which in ourselves, alas! we daily trace.
Yet at the darken'd eye, the wither'd face,
Or hoary hair, I never will repine:
But spare, 0 Time, whate'er of mental grace,
Of candour, love, or sympathy divine, Whate'er of fancy's ray, or friendship’s flame is mine. 3 So I, obsequious to Truth's dread command,
Shall here without reluctance change my lay,
And smite the Gothic lyre with harsher hand;
Now when I leave that flowery path, for aye,
Of childhood, where I sported many a day,
Warbling and sauntering carelessly along;
face was innocent and gay,
Each vale romantic, tuneful every tongue,
Sweet, wild, and artless all, as Edwin's infant song.
4. “Perish the lore that deadens young desire,”
Is the soft tenour of my song no more:
Edwin, though loved of Heaven, must not aspire
To bliss which mortals never knew before.
On trembling wings let youthful fancy soar,
Nor always haunt the sunny realms of joy:
But now and then the shades of life explore;
Though many a sound and sight of woe annoy, And many a qualm of care his rising hopes destroy. 5 Vigour from toil, from trouble patience grows:
The weakly blossom, warm in summer bower,
Some tints of transient beauty may disclose;
But soon it withers in the chilling hour.
Mark yonder oaks! Superior to the power
Of all the warring winds of heaven they rise,
And from the stormy promontory tower,
And toss their giant arms amid the skies, While each assailing blast increase of strengtn supplies. 6 And now the downy cheek and deepen'd voice
Gave dignity to Edwin's blooming prime;
And walks of wider circuit were his choice,
And vales more wild, and mountains more sublime.
One evening, as he framed the careless rhyme,
It was his chance to wander far abroad,
And o'er a lonely eminence to climb,
Which heretofore his foot bad never trod; A vale appear'd below, a deep retired abode. ng Thither he hied, enamour'd of the scene;
For rocks on rocks piled, as by magic spell,
Here scorch'd with lightning, there with ivy green,
Fenced from the North and East this savage dell:
Southward a mountain rose with easy swell,
Whose long, long groves eternal murmur made;
And toward the western Sun a streamlet fell,
Where, through the cliffs, the eye remote survey'd Blue hills, and glittering waves, and skies in gold array'd. 8 Along this narrow valley you might see
The wild deer sporting on the meadow ground,
And, here and there, a solitary tree,
Or mossy stone, or rock with woodbine crown'd:
Oft did the cliffs reverberate the sound
Of parted fragments tumbling from on high;
And from the summit of that craggy mound
The perching eagle oft was heard to cry,
Or on resounding wings to shoot athwart the sky.
9 One cultivated spot there was, that spread
Its flowery bosom to the noonday beam,
Where many a rosebud rears its blushing head,
And herbs for food with future plenty teem.
Soothed by the lulling sound of grove and stream,
Romantic visions swarm on Edwin's soul:
He minded not the Sun's last trembling gleam,
Nor heard from far the twilight curfew toll;
When slowly on his ear these moving accents stole:
10 “ Hail, awful scenes, that calm the troubled breast,
And woo the weary to profound repose !
Can passion's wildest uproar lay to rest,
And whisper comfort to the man of woes ?
Here Innocence may wander, safe from foes,
And Contemplation soar on seraph wings.
O Solitude! the man who thee foregoes,
When lucre lures him, or ambition stings, Shall never know the source whence real grandeur springs. 11 “ Vain man! is grandeur given to gay attire?
'hen let the butterfly thy pride upbraid:
To friends, attendants, armies bought with hire ?
It is thy weakness that requires their aid :
To palaces, with gold and gems inlaid ?
They fear the thief, and tremble in the storm:
To hosts, through carnage who to conquest wade?
Behold the victor vanquish'd by the worm!
Behold what deeds of woe the locust can perform!
12 “True dignity is his, whose tranquil mind
Virtue has raised above the things below;
Who, every hope and fear to Heaven resign'd,
Shrinks not, though Fortune aim her deadliest blow.”
This strain from 'midst the rocks was heard to flow
In solemn sounds. Now beam'd the evening star;
And, from embattled clouds emerging slow,
Cynthia came riding on her silver car;
And hoary mountain-cliffs shone faintly from afar.
13 Soon did the solemn voice its theme renew,
While Edwin, rapt in wonder, listening stood:
“Ye tools and toys of tyranny, adieu,
Scorn'd by the wise, and hated by the good!
Ye only can engage the servile brood
Of Levity and Lust, who all their days,
Ashamed of truth and liberty, have woo'd
And hugg'd the chain that, glittering on their gaze, Seems to outshine the pomp of Heaven's empyreal blaze.
14 “Like them, abandon'd to Ambition's sway,
I sought for glory in the paths of guile;
And fawn'd and smiled, to plunder and betray,
Myself betray'd and plunder'd all the while;
So gnaw'd the viper the corroding file;
But now with pangs of keen remorse I rue
Those years of trouble and debasement vile.
Yet why should I this cruel theme pursue ?
Fly, fly, detested thoughts, for ever from my view!
15 “The gusts of appetite, the clouds of care,
And storms of disappointment, all o’erpast,
Henceforth no earthly hope with Heaven shall share
This heart, where peace serenely shines at last.
And if for me no treasure be amass’d,
And if no future age shall hear my name,
I lurk the more secure from fortune's blast,
And with more leisure feed this pious flame,
Whose rapture far transcends the fairest hopes of fame.
16 “ The end and the reward of toil is rest:
Be all my prayer for virtue and for peace.
Of wealth and fame, of pomp and power possess’d,
Who ever felt his weight of woe decrease ?
Ah! what avails the lore of Rome and Greece,
The lay heaven-prompted, and harmonious string,