THE HUNDRED BEST ENGLISH POEMS
ADAM L. GOWANS, M.A.
New York Thomas Y. Crowell & Company Publishers Copyright, 1904, By Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.
THIS LITTLE COLLECTION IS DEDICATED TO JAMES FITZMAURICE-KELLY, ESQ. BY THE SELECTOR AS A SLIGHT MARK OF A DEEP ADMIRATION
Let me frankly admit, to begin with, that the attractiveness and probable selling qualities of the title of this little book, "The Hundred Best English Poems," proved, when it had been once thought of, too powerful arguments for it to be abandoned. I am fully conscious of the presumption such a title implies in an unknown selector, but at the same time I submit that only a plebiscite of duly qualified lovers of poetry could make a selection that could claim to deserve this title beyond all question, and such a plebiscite is of course impossible. I can claim no more than that my attempt to realize this title is an honest one, and I can assert, without fear of contradiction, that every one of the poems I have included is a "gem of purest ray serene"; that none can be too often read or too often repeated to one's self; that every one of them should be known by heart by every lover of good literature, so that each may become, as it were, a part of his inner being.
I have not inserted any poems by living authors.
I have taken the greatest care with the texts of the poems. The editions followed have been mentioned in every case. I have scrupulously retained the punctuation of these original editions, and only modernized the spelling of the old copies; while I have not ventured to omit any part of any poem. I have not supplied titles of my own, but have adopted those I found already employed in the editions used as models, or, in some of the cases in which I found none, have merely added a descriptive one, such as "Song from 'Don Juan.'"
In conclusion, my very warmest thanks are due to Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., for permission to include Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar"; to Mr. D. Nutt for permission to insert W. E. Henley's "To R. T. H. B." and "Margaritae Sorori"; to Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. for a like privilege in regard to Browning's "Epilogue," and to Mr. Lloyd Osbourne and Messrs. Chatto & Windus for permission to reproduce Stevenson's "Requiem." Without these poems the volume would have had a much smaller claim to its title than it does possess, slight as that may be. My thanks are also due to the following gentlemen who have kindly allowed me to reproduce copyright texts of non-copyright poems from editions published by them: Messrs. Bickers & Son (Ben Jonson), Messrs. Chapman & Hall, Ltd. (Landor), Messrs. Chatto & Windus (Herrick), Mr. Buxton Forman (Keats and Shelley), Mr. Henry Frowde (Wordsworth), Mr. Alex. Gardner and the Rev. George Henderson, B.D. (Lady Nairne), Messrs. T. C. & E. C. Jack (Burns), Messrs. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. (Clough and Tennyson), Mr. John Murray (Byron), Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. (Browning), Messrs. Ward, Lock & Co., Ltd. (Coleridge and Hood).
A. L. G.
ANONYMOUS. 1. Madrigal 1
ARNOLD (1822-1888). 2. The Forsaken Merman 2
BARBAULD (1743-1825). 3. Life 10
BROWNING (1812-1889). 4. Song from "Pippa Passes" 12 5. Song from "Pippa Passes" 12 6. The Lost Mistress 13 7. Home-Thoughts, from the Sea 14 8. Epilogue 15
BURNS (1759-1796). 9. The Silver Tassie 17 10. Of a' the Airts 18 11. John Anderson my Jo 19 12. Ae Fond Kiss 20 13. Ye Flowery Banks 21 14. A Red, Red Rose 22 15. Mary Morison 24
BYRON (1788-1824). 16. She Walks in Beauty 26 17. Oh! Snatched Away in Beauty's Bloom 27 18. Song from "The Corsair" 28 19. Song from "Don Juan" 29
CAMPBELL (1777-1844). 20. Hohenlinden 35
CLOUGH (1819-1861). 21. Say not the Struggle Nought Availeth 37
COLERIDGE (1772-1834). 22. Youth and Age 38
COLLINS (1721-1759). 23. Written in the Year 1746 41
COWPER (1731-1800). 24. To a Young Lady 42
CUNNINGHAM (1784-1842). 25. A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea 43
DAVENANT (1606-1668). 26. Song 45
DRYDEN (1631-1700). 27. A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687 46
GOLDSMITH (1728-1774). 28. Song 50
GRAY (1716-1771). 29. Elegy written in a Country Church-yard 51
HENLEY (1849-1903). 30. To R. T. H. B. 59 31. I. M. Margaritae Sorori 60
HERBERT (1593-1632). 32. Virtue 62
HERRICK (1591-1674). 33. To the Virgins, to make much of Time 63 34. To Anthea, who may command him anything 64
HOOD (1798-1845). 35. The Death Bed 66 36. The Bridge of Sighs 67 37. I Remember, I Remember 72
JONSON (1573-1637). 38. To Celia 74
KEATS (1795-1821). 39. On first looking into Chapman's Homer 75 40. Ode to a Nightingale 76 41. Ode on a Grecian Urn 80 42. To Autumn 83 43. Ode on Melancholy 85 44. La Belle Dame sans Merci 87 45. Sonnet 90
LAMB (1775-1834). 46. The Old Familiar Faces 92
LANDOR (1775-1864). 47. The Maid's Lament 94
LOVELACE (1618-1658). 48. To Lucasta. Going to the Wars 96
MILTON (1608-1674). 49. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity 97 50. L'Allegro 112 51. Il Penseroso 119 52. Lycidas 127 53. On his Blindness 137
NAIRINE (1766-1845). 54. The Land o' the Leal 138
POPE (1688-1744). 55. Ode on Solitude 140
RALEIGH (1552-1618). 56. The Night before his Death 142
ROGERS (1763-1855). 57. A Wish 143
SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616). 58. Sonnets. XVII. Who will believe my verse? 144 59. XVIII. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 145 60. XXX. When to the sessions 145 61. XXXIII. Full many a glorious morning 146 62. LX. Like as the waves 147 63. LXVI. Tired with all these 148 64. LXXI. No longer mourn 149 65. LXXIII. That time of year 149 66. LXXIV. But be contented 150 67. CVI. When in the chronicle 151 68. CXVI. Let me not to the marriage 152 69. Song from "The Tempest" 152 70. Song from "Measure for Measure" 153 71. Song from "Much Ado about Nothing" 153 72. Song from "Cymbeline" 154
SHELLEY (1792-1822). 73. Song from "Prometheus Unbound" 156 74. Ode to the West Wind 157 75. The Cloud 161 76. To a Skylark 165 77. Chorus from "Hellas" 171 78. Stanzas. Written in Dejection, near Naples 173 79. The Indian Serenade 176 80. To —— 177 81. To Night 178
SHIRLEY (1596-1666). 82. Song from "Ajax and Ulysses" 181
SOUTHEY (1774-1843). 83. Stanzas 183
STEVENSON (1850-1894). 84. Requiem 185
TENNYSON (1809-1892). 85. Song from "The Miller's Daughter" 186 86. St. Agnes' Eve 187 87. Break, break, break 188 88. Song from "The Princess" 189 89. Song from "The Princess" 191 90. Crossing the Bar 192
WALLER (1606-1687). 91. On a Girdle 193 92. Song 194
WORDSWORTH (1770-1850). 93. She dwelt among the untrodden ways 195 94. She was a Phantom of delight 195 95. Sonnets. Part I.—XXXIII. The world is too much with us 197 96. Part II.—XXXVI. Earth has not anything 198 97. To a Highland Girl, at Inversneyde, upon Loch Lomond 198 98. The Solitary Reaper 202 99. Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood 204
WOTTON (1568-1639). 100. On his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia 215
THE HUNDRED BEST ENGLISH POEMS.
Love not me for comely grace, For my pleasing eye or face; Nor for any outward part, No, nor for my constant heart: For those may fail or turn to ill, So thou and I shall sever: Keep therefore a true woman's eye, And love me still, but know not why; So hast thou the same reason still To doat upon me ever.
* * * * *
2. The Forsaken Merman.
Come, dear children, let us away; Down and away below. Now my brothers call from the bay; Now the great winds shorewards blow; Now the salt tides seawards flow; Now the wild white horses play, Champ and chafe and toss in the spray. Children dear, let us away. This way, this way.
Call her once before you go. Call once yet. In a voice that she will know: "Margaret! Margaret!" Children's voices should be dear (Call once more) to a mother's ear: Children's voices, wild with pain. Surely she will come again. Call her once and come away. This way, this way. "Mother dear, we cannot stay." The wild white horses foam and fret. Margaret! Margaret!
Come, dear children, come away down. Call no more. One last look at the white-wall'd town, And the little grey church on the windy shore. Then come down. She will not come though you call all day. Come away, come away.
Children dear, was it yesterday We heard the sweet bells over the bay? In the caverns where we lay, Through the surf and through the swell, The far-off sound of a silver bell? Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep, Where the winds are all asleep; Where the spent lights quiver and gleam; Where the salt weed sways in the stream; Where the sea-beasts rang'd all round Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground; Where the sea-snakes coil and twine, Dry their mail and bask in the brine; Where great whales come sailing by, Sail and sail, with unshut eye, Round the world for ever and aye? When did music come this way? Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, was it yesterday (Call yet once) that she went away? Once she sate with you and me, On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea, And the youngest sate on her knee. She comb'd its bright hair, and she tended it well, When down swung the sound of the far-off bell. She sigh'd, she look'd up through the clear green sea. She said; "I must go, for my kinsfolk pray In the little grey church on the shore to-day. 'Twill be Easter-time in the world—ah me! And I lose my poor soul, Merman, here with thee." I said; "Go up, dear heart, through the waves. Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-caves." She smil'd, she went up through the surf in the bay. Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, were we long alone? "The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan. Long prayers," I said, "in the world they say. Come," I said, and we rose through the surf in the bay. We went up the beach, by the sandy down Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-wall'd town. Through the narrow pav'd streets, where all was still, To the little grey church on the windy hill. From the church came a murmur of folk at their prayers, But we stood without in the cold blowing airs. We climb'd on the graves, on the stones, worn with rains, And we gaz'd up the aisle through the small leaded panes. She sate by the pillar; we saw her clear: "Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here. Dear heart," I said, "we are long alone. The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan." But, ah, she gave me never a look, For her eyes were seal'd to the holy book. "Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door." Come away, children, call no more. Come away, come down, call no more.
Down, down, down. Down to the depths of the sea. She sits at her wheel in the humming town, Singing most joyfully. Hark, what she sings: "O joy, O joy, For the humming street, and the child with its toy. For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well. For the wheel where I spun, And the blessed light of the sun." And so she sings her fill, Singing most joyfully, Till the shuttle falls from her hand, And the whizzing wheel stands still.
She steals to the window, and looks at the sand; And over the sand at the sea; And her eyes are set in a stare; And anon there breaks a sigh, And anon there drops a tear, From a sorrow-clouded eye, And a heart sorrow-laden, A long, long sigh. For the cold strange eyes of a little Mermaiden, And the gleam of her golden hair.
Come away, away children. Come children, come down. The hoarse wind blows colder; Lights shine in the town. She will start from her slumber When gusts shake the door; She will hear the winds howling, Will hear the waves roar. We shall see, while above us The waves roar and whirl, A ceiling of amber, A pavement of pearl. Singing, "Here came a mortal, But faithless was she. And alone dwell for ever The kings of the sea."
But, children, at midnight, When soft the winds blow; When clear falls the moonlight; When spring-tides are low: When sweet airs come seaward From heaths starr'd with broom; And high rocks throw mildly On the blanch'd sands a gloom: Up the still, glistening beaches, Up the creeks we will hie; Over banks of bright seaweed The ebb-tide leaves dry. We will gaze, from the sand-hills, At the white, sleeping town; At the church on the hill-side— And then come back down. Singing, "There dwells a lov'd one, But cruel is she. She left lonely for ever The kings of the sea."
* * * * *
ANNA LAETITIA BARBAULD.
Animula, vagula, blandula.
Life! I know not what thou art, But know that thou and I must part; And when, or how, or where we met, I own to me's a secret yet. But this I know, when thou art fled, Where'er they lay these limbs, this head, No clod so valueless shall be, As all that then remains of me.
O whither, whither dost thou fly, Where bend unseen thy trackless course, And in this strange divorce, Ah tell where I must seek this compound I? To the vast ocean of empyreal flame, From whence thy essence came, Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed From matter's base encumbering weed? Or dost thou, hid from sight, Wait, like some spell-bound knight, Through blank oblivious years the appointed hour, To break thy trance and reassume thy power? Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be? O say what art thou, when no more thou'rt thee?
Life! we've been long together, Through pleasant and through cloudy weather; 'Tis hard to part when friends are dear; Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear; Then steal away, give little warning, Choose thine own time; Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime Bid me Good morning.
* * * * *
4. Song from "Pippa Passes."
The year's at the spring And day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hill-side's dew-pearled; The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn: God's in his heaven— All's right with the world!
5. Song from "Pippa Passes."
You'll love me yet!—and I can tarry Your love's protracted growing: June reared that bunch of flowers you carry, From seeds of April's sowing.
I plant a heartful now: some seed At least is sure to strike, And yield—what you'll not pluck indeed, Not love, but, may be, like.
You'll look at least on love's remains, A grave's one violet: Your look?—that pays a thousand pains. What's death? You'll love me yet!
6. The Lost Mistress.
All's over, then: does truth sound bitter As one at first believes? Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter About your cottage eaves!
And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly, I noticed that, to-day; One day more bursts them open fully —You know the red turns grey.
To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest? May I take your hand in mine? Mere friends are we,—well, friends the merest Keep much that I resign:
For each glance of the eye so bright and black, Though I keep with heart's endeavour,— Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back, Though it stay in my soul for ever!—
Yet I will but say what mere friends say, Or only a thought stronger; I will hold your hand but as long as all may, Or so very little longer!
7. Home-Thoughts, from the Sea.
Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away; Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay; Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay; In the dimmest North-east distance dawned Gibraltar grand and grey; "Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?"—say, Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray, While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.
At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time, When you set your fancies free, Will they pass to where—by death, fools think, imprisoned— Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so, —Pity me?
Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! What had I on earth to do With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly? Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel —Being—who?
One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake.
No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time Greet the unseen with a cheer! Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be, "Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,—fight on, fare ever There as here!"
* * * * *
9. The Silver Tassie.
Go, fetch to me a pint o' wine, And fill it in a silver tassie, That I may drink before I go A service to my bonie lassie! The boat rocks at the pier o' Leith, Fu' loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry, The ship rides by the Berwick-Law, And I maun leave my bonie Mary.
The trumpets sound, the banners fly, The glittering spears are ranked ready, The shouts o' war are heard afar, The battle closes deep and bloody. It's not the roar o' sea or shore Wad mak me langer wish to tarry, Nor shouts o' war that's heard afar: It's leaving thee, my bonie Mary!
10. Of a' the Airts.
Of a' the airts the wind can blaw I dearly like the west, For there the bonie lassie lives, The lassie I lo'e best. There wild woods grow, and rivers row, And monie a hill between, But day and night my fancy's flight Is ever wi' my Jean.
I see her in the dewy flowers— I see her sweet and fair. I hear her in the tunefu' birds— I hear her charm the air. There's not a bonie flower that springs By fountain, shaw, or green, There's not a bonie bird that sings, But minds me o' my Jean.
11. John Anderson my Jo.
John Anderson my jo, John, When we were first acquent, Your locks were like the raven, Your bonie brow was brent; But now your brow is beld, John, Your locks are like the snaw, But blessings on your frosty pow, John Anderson my jo!
John Anderson my jo, John, We clamb the hill thegither, And monie a cantie day, John, We've had wi' ane anither; Now we maun totter down, John, And hand in hand we'll go, And sleep thegither at the foot, John Anderson my jo!
12. Ae Fond Kiss.
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae farewell, and then forever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. Who shall say that Fortune grieves him, While the star of hope she leaves him? Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me, Dark despair around benights me.
I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy: Naething could resist my Nancy! But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love for ever. Had we never lov'd sae kindly, Had we never lov'd sae blindly, Never met—or never parted— We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest! Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest! Thine be ilka joy and treasure, Peace, Enjoyment, Love, and Pleasure! Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae farewell, alas, for ever! Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
13. Ye Flowery Banks.
Ye flowery banks o' bonie Doon, How can ye blume sae fair? How can ye chant, ye little birds, And I sae fu' o' care?
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird, That sings upon the bough: Thou minds me o' the happy days When my fause Luve was true!
Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird, That sings beside thy mate: For sae I sat, and sae I sang, And wist na o' my fate!
Aft hae I rov'd by bonie Doon To see the woodbine twine, And ilka bird sang o' its luve, And sae did I o' mine.
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose Frae aff its thorny tree, And my fause luver staw my rose, But left the thorn wi' me.
14. A Red, Red Rose.
O, my luve is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June. O, my luve is like the melodie, That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I, And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun! And I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare the weel, my only luve, And fare the weel a while! And I will come again, my luve, Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
15. Mary Morison.
O Mary, at thy window be! It is the wish'd, the trysted hour. Those smiles and glances let me see, That make the miser's treasure poor. How blythely wad I bide the stoure, A weary slave frae sun to sun, Could I the rich reward secure— The lovely Mary Morison!
Yestreen, when to the trembling string The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha', To thee my fancy took its wing, I sat, but neither heard or saw: Tho' this was fair, and that was braw, And yon the toast of a' the town, I sigh'd and said amang them a':— "Ye are na Mary Morison!"
O Mary, canst thou wreck his peace Wha for thy sake wad gladly die? Or canst thou break that heart of his Whase only faut is loving thee? If love for love thou wilt na gie, At least be pity to me shown: A thought ungentle canna be The thought o' Mary Morison.
Henderson and Henley's Text.
* * * * *
16. She Walks in Beauty.
She walks in Beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o'er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent!
17. Oh! Snatched Away in Beauty's Bloom.
Oh! snatched away in beauty's bloom, On thee shall press no ponderous tomb; But on thy turf shall roses rear Their leaves, the earliest of the year; And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom:
And oft by yon blue gushing stream Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head, And feed deep thought with many a dream, And lingering pause and lightly tread; Fond wretch! as if her step disturbed the dead!
Away! we know that tears are vain, That Death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain? Or make one mourner weep the less? And thou—who tell'st me to forget, Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.
18. Song from "The Corsair."
Deep in my soul that tender secret dwells, Lonely and lost to light for evermore, Save when to thine my heart responsive swells, Then trembles into silence as before.
There, in its centre, a sepulchral lamp Burns the slow flame, eternal—but unseen; Which not the darkness of Despair can damp, Though vain its ray as it had never been.
Remember me—Oh! pass not thou my grave Without one thought whose relics there recline: The only pang my bosom dare not brave Must be to find forgetfulness in thine.
My fondest—faintest—latest accents hear— Grief for the dead not Virtue can reprove; Then give me all I ever asked—a tear, The first—last—sole reward of so much love!
19. Song from "Don Juan."
The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung, Where grew the arts of War and Peace, Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! Eternal summer gilds them yet, But all, except their Sun, is set.
The Scian and the Teian muse, The Hero's harp, the Lover's lute, Have found the fame your shores refuse: Their place of birth alone is mute To sounds which echo further west Than your Sires' "Islands of the Blest."
The mountains look on Marathon— And Marathon looks on the sea; And musing there an hour alone, I dreamed that Greece might still be free; For standing on the Persians' grave, I could not deem myself a slave.
A King sate on the rocky brow Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis; And ships, by thousands, lay below, And men in nations;—all were his! He counted them at break of day— And, when the Sun set, where were they?
And where are they? and where art thou, My Country? On thy voiceless shore The heroic lay is tuneless now— The heroic bosom beats no more! And must thy Lyre, so long divine, Degenerate into hands like mine?
'Tis something, in the dearth of Fame, Though linked among a fettered race, To feel at least a patriot's shame, Even as I sing, suffuse my face; For what is left the poet here? For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.
Must we but weep o'er days more blest? Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled. Earth! render back from out thy breast A remnant of our Spartan dead! Of the three hundred grant but three, To make a new Thermopylae!
What, silent still? and silent all? Ah! no;—the voices of the dead Sound like a distant torrent's fall, And answer, "Let one living head, But one arise,—we come, we come!" 'Tis but the living who are dumb.
In vain—in vain: strike other chords; Fill high the cup with Samian wine! Leave battles to the Turkish hordes, And shed the blood of Scio's vine! Hark! rising to the ignoble call— How answers each bold Bacchanal!
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet, Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone? Of two such lessons, why forget The nobler and the manlier one? You have the letters Cadmus gave— Think ye he meant them for a slave?
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! We will not think of themes like these! It made Anacreon's song divine: He served—but served Polycrates— A Tyrant; but our masters then Were still, at least, our countrymen.
The Tyrant of the Chersonese Was Freedom's best and bravest friend; That tyrant was Miltiades! Oh! that the present hour would lend Another despot of the kind! Such chains as his were sure to bind.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! On Suli's rock, and Parga's shore, Exists the remnant of a line Such as the Doric mothers bore; And there, perhaps, some seed is sown, The Heracleidan blood might own.
Trust not for freedom to the Franks— They have a king who buys and sells; In native swords, and native ranks, The only hope of courage dwells; But Turkish force, and Latin fraud, Would break your shield, however broad.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! Our virgins dance beneath the shade— I see their glorious black eyes shine; But gazing on each glowing maid, My own the burning tear-drop laves, To think such breasts must suckle slaves.
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep, Where nothing, save the waves and I, May hear our mutual murmurs sweep; There, swan-like, let me sing and die: A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine— Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!
* * * * *
On Linden, when the sun was low, All bloodless lay th' untrodden snow; And dark as winter was the flow Of Iser, rolling rapidly.
But Linden saw another sight, When the drum beat, at dead of night, Commanding fires of death to light The darkness of her scenery.
By torch and trumpet fast array'd, Each horseman drew his battle blade, And furious every charger neigh'd, To join the dreadful revelry.
Then shook the hills with thunder riv'n, Then rush'd the steed to battle driv'n, And louder than the bolts of heaven, Far flash'd the red artillery.
But redder yet that light shall glow, On Linden's hills of stained snow, And bloodier yet the torrent flow Of Iser, rolling rapidly.
'Tis morn, but scarce yon level sun Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun, Where furious Frank, and fiery Hun, Shout in their sulph'rous canopy.
The combat deepens. On, ye brave, Who rush to glory, or the grave! Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave! And charge with all thy chivalry!
Few, few, shall part where many meet! The snow shall be their winding sheet, And every turf beneath their feet, Shall be a soldier's sepulchre.
* * * * *
ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH.
21. Say not the Struggle Nought Availeth.
Say not, the struggle nought availeth, The labour and the wounds are vain, The enemy faints not, nor faileth, And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars; It may be, in yon smoke concealed, Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers, And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to gain, Far back, through creeks and inlets making, Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light, In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly, But westward, look, the land is bright.
* * * * *
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
22. Youth and Age.
Verse, a breeze mid blossoms straying, Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee— Both were mine! Life went a maying With Nature, Hope, and Poesy, When I was young!
When I was young?—Ah, woful when! Ah! for the change 'twixt Now and Then! This breathing house not built with hands, This body that does me grievous wrong, O'er aery cliffs and glittering sands, How lightly then it flashed along:— Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore, On winding lakes and rivers wide, That ask no aid of sail or oar, That fear no spite of wind or tide! Nought cared this body for wind or weather When Youth and I liv'd in't together. Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like; Friendship is a sheltering tree; O! the joys, that came down shower-like, Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty, Ere I was old.
Ere I was old? Ah woful Ere, Which tells me, Youth's no longer here! O Youth! for years so many and sweet 'Tis known, that Thou and I were one, I'll think it but a fond conceit— It cannot be, that Thou art gone! Thy vesper-bell hath not yet toll'd:— And thou wert aye a masker bold! What strange disguise hast now put on, To make believe, that Thou art gone? I see these locks in silvery slips, This drooping gait, this altered size: But springtide blossoms on thy lips, And tears take sunshine from thine eyes! Life is but thought: so think I will That Youth and I are house-mates still.
Dew-drops are the gems of morning, But the tears of mournful eve! Where no hope is, life's a warning That only serves to make us grieve, When we are old:
That only serves to make us grieve With oft and tedious taking-leave, Like some poor nigh-related guest, That may not rudely be dismist. Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while, And tells the jest without the smile.
* * * * *
23. Written in the Year 1746.
How sleep the brave, who sink to rest By all their country's wishes bless'd! When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallow'd mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung; By forms unseen their dirge is sung; There Honour comes, a pilgrim gray, To bless the turf that wraps their clay; And Freedom shall a while repair, To dwell a weeping hermit there.
* * * * *
24. To a Young Lady.
Sweet stream that winds through yonder glade, Apt emblem of a virtuous maid— Silent and chaste she steals along, Far from the world's gay busy throng, With gentle, yet prevailing, force, Intent upon her destin'd course; Graceful and useful all she does, Blessing and blest where'er she goes, Pure-bosom'd as that wat'ry glass, And heav'n reflected in her face.
* * * * *
25. A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea.
A wet sheet and a flowing sea, A wind that follows fast, And fills the white and rustling sail, And bends the gallant mast; And bends the gallant mast, my boys, While, like the eagle free, Away the good ship flies, and leaves Old England on the lee.
O for a soft and gentle wind! I heard a fair one cry; But give to me the snoring breeze, And white waves heaving high; And white waves heaving high, my boys, The good ship tight and free— The world of waters is our home, And merry men are we.
There's tempest in yon horned moon, And lightning in yon cloud; And hark the music, mariners! The wind is piping loud; The wind is piping loud, my boys, The lightning flashing free— While the hollow oak our palace is, Our heritage the sea.
* * * * *
SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT.
The lark now leaves his wat'ry nest, And, climbing, shakes his dewy wings; He takes this window for the east; And to implore your light, he sings: "Awake, awake! the morn will never rise, Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.
"The merchant bows unto the seaman's star, The ploughman from the sun his season takes; But still the lover wonders what they are, Who look for day before his mistress wakes. Awake, awake! break thro' your veils of lawn! Then draw your curtains, and begin the dawn."
* * * * *
27. A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687.
From harmony, from heav'nly harmony This universal frame began: When nature underneath a heap Of jarring atoms lay, And cou'd not heave her head, The tuneful voice was heard from high, Arise, ye more than dead. Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry, In order to their stations leap, And Music's power obey. From harmony, from heavenly harmony This universal frame began: From harmony to harmony Through all the compass of the notes it ran, The diapason closing full in Man.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell! When Jubal struck the corded shell, His list'ning brethren stood around, And, wond'ring, on their faces fell To worship that celestial sound. Less than a God they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell, That spoke so sweetly and so well. What passion cannot Music raise and quell!
The trumpet's loud clangour Excites us to arms, With shrill notes of anger And mortal alarms. The double double double beat Of the thund'ring drum Cries, Hark! the foes come; Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat.
The soft complaining flute In dying notes discovers The woes of hopeless lovers, Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.
Sharp violins proclaim Their jealous pangs, and desperation, Fury, frantic indignation, Depth of pains, and height of passion, For the fair, disdainful dame.
But oh! what art can teach, What human voice can reach, The sacred organ's praise? Notes inspiring holy love, Notes that wing their heavenly ways To mend the choirs above.
Orpheus cou'd lead the savage race; And trees uprooted left their place, Sequacious of the lyre: But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder higher: When to her organ vocal breath was giv'n, An angel heard, and straight appear'd, Mistaking Earth for Heav'n.
As from the pow'r of sacred lays The spheres began to move, And sung the great Creator's praise To all the Bless'd above; So when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And Music shall untune the sky.
* * * * *
The wretch condemn'd with life to part, Still, still on hope relies; And ev'ry pang that rends the heart, Bids expectation rise.
Hope, like the glimm'ring taper's light, Adorns and cheers the way; And still, as darker grows the night, Emits a brighter ray.
* * * * *
29. Elegy written in a Country Church-yard.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r, The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke: How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke.
Let not ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th' inevitable hour. The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust, Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust, Or flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd, Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll; Chill penury repress'd their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that, with dauntless breast, The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command, The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land, And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade to wade thro' slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse, The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey, This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies, Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries, E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,—
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 'Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away, To meet the sun upon the upland lawn:
'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn, Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill, Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:
'The next, with dirges due in sad array Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne:— Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown: Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth, And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere, Heaven did a recompense as largely send: He gave to mis'ry (all he had) a tear, He gain'd from heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,) The bosom of his Father and his God.
* * * * *
WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY.
30. To R. T. H. B.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
31. I. M. Margaritae Sorori (1886)
A late lark twitters from the quiet skies; And from the west, Where the sun, his day's work ended, Lingers as in content, There falls on the old, grey city An influence luminous and serene, A shining peace.
The smoke ascends In a rosy-and-golden haze. The spires Shine, and are changed. In the valley Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun, Closing his benediction, Sinks, and the darkening air Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night— Night with her train of stars And her great gift of sleep. So be my passing! My task accomplished and the long day done, My wages taken, and in my heart Some late lark singing, Let me be gathered to the quiet west, The sundown splendid and serene, Death.
* * * * *
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright, The bridal of the earth and sky: The dew shall weep thy fall to-night; For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye: Thy root is ever in its grave, And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses, A box where sweets compacted lie; My music shows ye have your closes, And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul, Like season'd timber, never gives; But though the whole world turn to coal, Then chiefly lives.
* * * * *
33. To the Virgins, to make much of Time.
1. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles to-day, To-morrow will be dying.
2. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he's a-getting; The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he's to setting.
3. That age is best, which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times, still succeed the former.
4. Then be not coy, but use your time; And while ye may, go marry: For having lost but once your prime, You may for ever tarry.
34. To Anthea, who may command him anything.
1. Bid me to live, and I will live Thy Protestant to be: Or bid me love, and I will give A loving heart to thee.
2. A heart as soft, a heart as kind, A heart as sound and free, As in the whole world thou canst find, That heart I'll give to thee.
3. Bid that heart stay, and it will stay, To honour thy decree: Or bid it languish quite away, And't shall do so for thee.
4. Bid me to weep, and I will weep, While I have eyes to see: And having none, yet I will keep A heart to weep for thee.
5. Bid me despair, and I'll despair, Under that cypress tree: Or bid me die, and I will dare E'en death, to die for thee.
6. Thou art my life, my love, my heart, The very eyes of me: And hast command of every part, To live and die for thee.
* * * * *
35. The Death Bed.
We watch'd her breathing through the night, Her breathing soft and low, As in her breast the wave of life Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seem'd to speak, So slowly moved about, As we had lent her half our powers To eke her living out.
Our very hopes belied our fears, Our fears our hopes belied— We thought her dying when she slept, And sleeping when she died.
For when the morn came dim and sad, And chill with early showers, Her quiet eyelids closed—she had Another morn than ours.
36. The Bridge of Sighs.
One more Unfortunate, Weary of breath, Rashly importunate, Gone to her death!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care; Fashion'd so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Look at her garments Clinging like cerements; Whilst the wave constantly Drips from her clothing; Take her up instantly, Loving, not loathing.—
Touch her not scornfully; Think of her mournfully, Gently and humanly; Not of the stains of her, All that remains of her Now is pure womanly.
Make no deep scrutiny Into her mutiny Rash and undutiful: Past all dishonour, Death has left on her Only the beautiful.
Still, for all slips of hers, One of Eve's family— Wipe those poor lips of hers Oozing so clammily.
Loop up her tresses Escaped from the comb, Her fair auburn tresses; Whilst wonderment guesses Where was her home?
Who was her father? Who was her mother? Had she a sister? Had she a brother? Or was there a dearer one Still, and a nearer one Yet, than all other?
Alas! for the rarity Of Christian charity Under the sun! Oh! it was pitiful! Near a whole city full, Home she had none.
Sisterly, brotherly, Fatherly, motherly Feelings had changed: Love, by harsh evidence, Thrown from its eminence; Even God's providence Seeming estranged.
Where the lamps quiver So far in the river, With many a light From window and casement, From garret to basement, She stood, with amazement, Houseless by night.
The bleak wind of March Made her tremble and shiver; But not the dark arch, Or the black flowing river: Mad from life's history, Glad to death's mystery, Swift to be hurl'd— Any where, any where Out of the world!
In she plunged boldly, No matter how coldly The rough river ran,— Over the brink of it, Picture it—think of it, Dissolute Man! Lave in it, drink of it, Then, if you can!
Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care; Fashion'd so slenderly, Young, and so fair!
Ere her limbs frigidly Stiffen too rigidly, Decently,—kindly,— Smooth, and compose them; And her eyes, close them, Staring so blindly!
Dreadfully staring Thro' muddy impurity, As when with the daring Last look of despairing Fix'd on futurity.
Perishing gloomily, Spurr'd by contumely, Cold inhumanity, Burning insanity, Into her rest.— Cross her hands humbly, As if praying dumbly, Over her breast!
Owning her weakness, Her evil behaviour, And leaving, with meekness, Her sins to her Saviour!
37. I Remember, I Remember.
I remember, I remember, The house where I was born, The little window where the sun Came peeping in at morn; He never came a wink too soon, Nor brought too long a day, But now, I often wish the night Had borne my breath away!
I remember, I remember, The roses, red and white, The violets, and the lily cups, Those flowers made of light! The lilacs where the robin built, And where my brother set The laburnum on his birth-day,— The tree is living yet!
I remember, I remember Where I was used to swing, And thought the air must rush as fresh To swallows on the wing; My spirit flew in feathers then, That is so heavy now, And summer pools could hardly cool The fever on my brow!
I remember, I remember The fir trees dark and high; I used to think their slender tops Were close against the sky: It was a childish ignorance, But now 'tis little joy To know I'm farther off from Heav'n Than when I was a boy.
* * * * *
38. To Celia.
Drink to me, only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup, And I'll not look for wine. The thirst, that from the soul doth rise, Doth ask a drink divine: But might I of Jove's nectar sup, I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath, Not so much honouring thee, As giving it a hope, that there It could not wither'd be. But thou thereon didst only breathe, And sent'st it back to me: Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, Not of itself, but thee.
* * * * *
39. On first looking into Chapman's Homer.
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-brow'd Homer rul'd as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
40. Ode to a Nightingale.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness,— That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, In some melodious plot Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green, Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth; That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-ey'd despairs, Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays; But here there is no light, Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves; And mid-May's eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?
41. Ode on a Grecian Urn.
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; And, happy melodist, unwearied, For ever piping songs for ever new; More happy love! more happy, happy love! For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, For ever panting, and for ever young; All breathing human passion far above, That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice? To what green altar, O mysterious priest, Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? What little town by river or sea shore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? And, little town, thy streets for evermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
42. To Autumn.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep, Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,— And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
43. Ode on Melancholy.
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine; Make not your rosary of yew-berries, Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl A partner in your sorrow's mysteries; For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies; Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave, And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
44. La Belle Dame sans Merci.
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, Alone and palely loitering; The sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing.
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, So haggard and so woe-begone? The squirrel's granary is full, And the harvest's done.
I see a lily on thy brow, With anguish moist and fever dew; And on thy cheek a fading rose Fast withereth too.
I met a lady in the meads Full beautiful, a faery's child; Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild.
I set her on my pacing steed, And nothing else saw all day long; For sideways would she lean, and sing A faery's song.
I made a garland for her head, And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; She look'd at me as she did love, And made sweet moan.
She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, and manna dew; And sure in language strange she said, I love thee true.
She took me to her elfin grot, And there she gaz'd and sighed deep, And there I shut her wild sad eyes— So kiss'd to sleep.
And there we slumber'd on the moss, And there I dream'd, ah woe betide, The latest dream I ever dream'd On the cold hill-side.
I saw pale kings, and princes too, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; Who cry'd—"La belle Dame sans merci Hath thee in thrall!"
I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam With horrid warning gaped wide, And I awoke, and found me here On the cold hill-side.
And this is why I sojourn here Alone and palely loitering, Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing.
When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, Before high-piled books, in charactery, Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain; When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
Buxton Forman's Text.
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46. The Old Familiar Faces.
Where are they gone, the old familiar faces? I had a mother, but she died, and left me, Died prematurely in a day of horrors— All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have had playmates, I have had companions, In my days of childhood, in my joyful school days— All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have been laughing, I have been carousing, Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies— All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I lov'd a love once, fairest among women; Clos'd are her doors on me, I must not see her— All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man. Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly; Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.
Ghost-like, I pac'd round the haunts of my childhood. Earth seem'd a desert I was bound to traverse, Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother! Why were not thou born in my father's dwelling? So might we talk of the old familiar faces.
For some they have died, and some they have left me, And some are taken from me; all are departed; All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
* * * * *
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.
47. The Maid's Lament.
I loved him not; and yet now he is gone I feel I am alone. I check'd him while he spoke; yet could he speak, Alas! I would not check. For reasons not to love him once I sought, And wearied all my thought To vex myself and him: I now would give My love, could he but live Who lately lived for me, and when he found 'Twas vain, in holy ground He hid his face amid the shades of death. I waste for him my breath Who wasted his for me: but mine returns, And this lorn bosom burns With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep, And waking me to weep Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years Wept he as bitter tears. Merciful God! such was his latest prayer, These may she never share! Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold, Than daisies in the mould, Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate, His name and life's brief date. Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be, And oh! pray too for me!
* * * * *
48. To Lucasta. Going to the Wars.
Tell me not, (sweet,) I am unkind, That from the nunnery Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind To war and arms I fly.
True: a new Mistress now I chase, The first foe in the field; And with a stronger faith embrace A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such, As you too shall adore; I could not love thee, dear, so much, Lov'd I not Honour more.
Carew Hazlitt's Text.
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49. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.
This is the month, and this the happy morn, Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King, Of wedded Maid and Virgin-Mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring; For so the holy sages once did sing, That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable, And that far-beaming blaze of majesty, Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, He laid aside; and, here with us to be, Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode, Now, while the heaven, by the Sun's team untrod, Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far upon the eastern road The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet! Oh! run, prevent them with thy humble ode, And lay it lowly at his blessed feet; Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet, And join thy voice unto the angel quire, From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.
It was the winter wild, While the heaven-born child All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in awe to him Had doffed her gaudy trim, With her great Master so to sympathize. It was no season then for her To wanton with the Sun her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair She woos the gentle air To hide her guilty front with innocent snow, And on her naked shame, Pollute with sinful blame, The saintly veil of maiden-white to throw, Confounded, that her Maker's eyes Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But he, her fears to cease, Sent down the meek-eyed Peace; She, crowned with olive-green, came softly sliding Down through the turning sphere, His ready harbinger, With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand, She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.
No war or battle's sound Was heard the world around; The idle spear and shield were high up hung; The hooked chariot stood, Unstained with hostile blood; The trumpet spake not to the armed throng; And kings sat still with awful eye, As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night, Wherein the Prince of Light His reign of peace upon the earth began. The winds, with wonder whist, Smoothly the waters kissed, Whispering new joys to the mild ocean, Who now hath quite forgot to rave, While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars, with deep amaze, Stand fixed in steadfast gaze, Bending one way their precious influence, And will not take their flight, For all the morning-light, Or Lucifer that often warned them thence; But in their glimmering orbs did glow, Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And, though the shady gloom Had given day her room, The sun himself withheld his wonted speed; And hid his head for shame, As his inferior flame The new-enlightened world no more should need; He saw a greater sun appear Than his bright throne or burning axletree could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn, Or ere the point of dawn, Sat simply chatting in a rustic row; Full little thought they than That the mighty Pan Was kindly come to live with them below. Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such music sweet Their hearts and ears did greet, As never was by mortal finger strook; Divinely-warbled voice Answering the stringed noise, As all their souls in blissful rapture took. The air, such pleasure loth to lose, With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Nature, that heard such sound, Beneath the hollow round Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling, Now was almost won To think her part was done, And that her reign had here its last fulfilling. She knew such harmony alone Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight A globe of circular light, That with long beams the shame-faced Night arrayed. The helmed Cherubim, And sworded Seraphim, Are seen, in glittering ranks with wings displayed, Harping, in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such music—as 'tis said— Before was never made, But when of old the Sons of Morning sung; While the Creator great His constellations set, And the well-balanced World on hinges hung, And cast the dark foundations deep, And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres! Once bless our human ears, —If ye have power to touch our senses so— And let your silver-chime Move in melodious time, And let the base of heaven's deep organ blow; And with your ninefold harmony Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
For if such holy song Enwrap our fancy long, Time will run back, and fetch the Age of Gold; And speckled Vanity Will sicken soon and die, And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould; And Hell itself will pass away, And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea Truth and Justice then Will down return to men, Orbed in a rainbow, and like glories wearing; Mercy will sit between, Throned in celestial sheen, With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering; And Heaven, as at some festival, Will open wide the gates of her high palace-hall.
But wisest Fate says No, This must not yet be so, The Babe lies yet in smiling infancy, That, on the bitter cross, Must redeem our loss; So both himself and us to glorify: Yet first, to those ychained in sleep, The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep.
With such a horrid clang As on Mount Sinai rang, While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake, The aged earth aghast, With terror of that blast, Shall from the surface to the centre shake; When, at the world's last session, The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.
And then at last our bliss Full and perfect is, But now begins; for from this happy day The Old Dragon under ground, In straiter limits bound, Not half so far casts his usurped sway, And, wroth to see his kingdom fail, Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.
The oracles are dumb, No voice or hideous hum Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving. Apollo from his shrine Can no more divine, With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving. No nightly trance, or breathed spell, Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.
The lonely mountains o'er, And the resounding shore, A voice of weeping heard and loud lament; From haunted spring, and dale Edged with poplar pale, The parting Genius is with sighing sent; With flower-inwoven tresses torn The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
In consecrated earth, And on the holy hearth, The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint; In urns and altars round, A drear and dying sound Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint; And the chill marble seems to sweat, While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baaelim Forsake their temples dim, With that twice battered god of Palestine; And mooned Ashtaroth, Heaven's queen and mother both, Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine; The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn; In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch, fled, Hath left in shadows dread His burning idol all of blackest hue; In vain with cymbals' ring They call the grisly king, In dismal dance about the furnace blue; The brutish gods of Nile as fast, Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.
Nor is Osiris seen In Memphian grove or green, Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud; Nor can he be at rest Within his sacred chest, Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud; In vain, with timbrelled anthems dark, The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.
He feels, from Juda's land, The dreaded Infant's hand, The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn; Nor all the gods beside Longer dare abide, Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine. Our Babe, to shew his Godhead true, Can in his swaddling-bands control the damned crew.
So when the sun in bed, Curtained with cloudy red, Pillows his chin upon an orient wave, The flocking shadows pale Troop to the infernal jail, Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave, And the yellow-skirted fayes Fly after the Night steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
But see! the Virgin blest Hath laid her Babe to rest, Time is our tedious song should here have ending; Heaven's youngest-teemed star Hath fixed her polished car, Her sleeping Lord with handmaid-lamp attending; And all about the courtly stable Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.
Hence, loathed Melancholy! Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born, In Stygian cave forlorn, 'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy. Find out some uncouth cell, Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings, And the night-raven sings; There, under ebon shades and low-browed rocks As ragged as thy locks, In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. But come, thou Goddess fair and free, In Heaven yclept Euphrosyne, And by men, heart-easing Mirth; Whom lovely Venus, at a birth With two sister Graces more, To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore; Or whether, as some sager sing, The frolic wind that breathes the spring, Zephyr, with Aurora playing, As he met her once a-maying, There, on beds of violets blue, And fresh-blown roses washed in dew, Filled her with thee, a daughter fair, So buxom, blithe, and debonair. Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee Jest, and youthful Jollity, Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles, Nods and Becks, and wreathed Smiles— Such as hang on Hebe's cheek, And love to live in dimple sleek; Sport, that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter, holding both his sides: Come, and trip it as you go On the light fantastic toe; And in thy right hand lead with thee The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty; And, if I give thee honour due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew To live with her and live with thee, In unreproved pleasures free; To hear the lark begin his flight, And singing startle the dull night From his watch-tower in the skies, Till the dappled dawn doth rise; Then to come, in spite of sorrow, And at my window bid good-morrow, Through the sweet-briar, or the vine, Or the twisted eglantine; While the cock, with lively din, Scatters the rear of darkness thin, And, to the stack or the barn-door, Stoutly struts his dames before: Oft listening how the hounds and horn Cheerly rouse the slumbering Morn, From the side of some hoar hill, Through the high wood echoing shrill. Sometime walking, not unseen, By hedgerow elms, on hillocks green, Right against the eastern gate, Where the great Sun begins his state, Robed in flames and amber light, The clouds in thousand liveries dight; While the ploughman, near at hand, Whistles o'er the furrowed land, And the milkmaid singeth blithe, And the mower whets his scythe, And every shepherd tells his tale, Under the hawthorn in the dale. Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures, Whilst the landscape round it measures; Russet lawns, and fallows gray, Where the nibbling flocks do stray, Mountains on whose barren breast The labouring clouds do often rest, Meadows trim with daisies pied, Shallow brooks, and rivers wide, Towers and battlements it sees, Bosomed high in tufted trees, Where perhaps some Beauty lies, The Cynosure of neighbouring eyes. Hard by a cottage-chimney smokes From betwixt two aged oaks, Where Corydon and Thyrsis, met, Are at their savoury dinner set Of herbs and other country messes, Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses; And then in haste her bower she leaves, With Thestylis to bind the sheaves; Or, if the earlier season lead, To the tanned haycock in the mead. Sometimes, with secure delight, The upland hamlets will invite, When the merry bells ring round, And the jocund rebecks sound, To many a youth and many a maid, Dancing in the chequered shade, And young and old come forth to play On a sunshine holiday, Till the live-long daylight fail; Then to the spicy nut-brown ale, With stories told of many a feat, How faery Mab the junkets eat; She was pinched and pulled, she said; And he, by Friar's lantern led, Tells how the drudging goblin sweat, To earn his cream-bowl duly set, When in one night, ere glimpse of morn, His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn That ten day-labourers could not end; Then lies him down, the lubber-fiend, And, stretched out all the chimney's length, Basks at the fire his hairy strength, And crop-full out of doors he flings, Ere the first cock his matin rings. Thus done the tales, to bed they creep, By whispering winds soon lulled asleep. Towered cities please us then, And the busy hum of men, Where throngs of knights and barons bold, In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold, With store of ladies, whose bright eyes Rain influence, and judge the prize Of wit or arms, while both contend To win her grace, whom all commend. There let Hymen oft appear In saffron robe, with taper clear, And pomp, and feast, and revelry, With mask and antique pageantry; Such sights as youthful poets dream, On summer-eves by haunted stream. Then to the well-trod stage anon, If Jonson's learned sock be on, Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child, Warble his native wood-notes wild. And ever, against eating cares, Lap me in soft Lydian airs, Married to immortal verse, Such as the meeting soul may pierce, In notes with many a winding bout Of linked sweetness long drawn out, With wanton heed and giddy cunning The melting voice through mazes running Untwisting all the chains that tie The hidden soul of harmony; That Orpheus' self may heave his head, From golden slumber on a bed Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear Such strains as would have won the ear Of Pluto, to have quite set free His half-regained Eurydice. These delights if thou canst give, Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
51. Il Penseroso.
Hence, vain deluding Joys, The brood of Folly without father bred! How little you bested, Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys! Dwell in some idle brain, And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess, As thick and numberless As the gay motes that people the sunbeams, Or likest hovering dreams, The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train. But hail, thou Goddess sage and holy! Hail, divinest Melancholy, Whose saintly visage is too bright To hit the sense of human sight, And therefore to our weaker view O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue; Black, but such as in esteem Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove To set her beauty's praise above The Sea-Nymphs', and their powers offended: Yet thou art higher far descended. Thee bright-haired Vesta long of yore To solitary Saturn bore; His daughter she; in Saturn's reign Such mixture was not held a stain. Oft in glimmering bowers and glades He met her, and in secret shades Of woody Ida's inmost grove, While yet there was no fear of Jove. Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure, Sober, steadfast, and demure, All in a robe of darkest grain, Flowing with majestic train, And sable stole of Cyprus lawn Over thy decent shoulders drawn. Come, but keep thy wonted state, With even step, and musing gait, And looks commercing with the skies, Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes; There, held in holy passion still, Forget thyself to marble, till With a sad, leaden, downward cast Thou fix them on the earth as fast. And join with thee calm Peace and Quiet, Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet, And hears the Muses in a ring Aye round about Jove's altar sing; And add to these retired Leisure, That in trim gardens takes his pleasure. But, first and chiefest, with thee bring Him that yon soars on golden wing, Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne, The Cherub Contemplation; And the mute Silence hist along, 'Less Philomel will deign a song, In her sweetest, saddest plight, Smoothing the rugged brow of Night; While Cynthia checks her dragon-yoke, Gently o'er the accustomed oak. Sweet bird, that shunnest the noise of folly, Most musical, most melancholy! Thee, chantress, oft the woods among I woo to hear thy even-song; And missing thee I walk unseen, On the dry, smooth-shaven green, To behold the wandering moon, Riding near her highest noon, Like one that has been led astray Through the heaven's wide pathless way, And oft, as if her head she bowed, Stooping through a fleecy cloud. Oft, on a plat of rising ground, I hear the far-off curfew sound, Over some wide-watered shore, Swinging slow with sullen roar; Or, if the air will not permit, Some still, removed place will fit, Where glowing embers through the room Teach light to counterfeit a gloom, Far from all resort of mirth, Save the cricket on the hearth, Or the bellman's drowsy charm, To bless the doors from nightly harm; Or let my lamp, at midnight-hour, Be seen in some high, lonely tower, Where I may oft out-watch the Bear, With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere The spirit of Plato, to unfold What worlds or what vast regions hold The immortal mind, that hath forsook Her mansion in this fleshly nook; And of those demons that are found In fire, air, flood, or underground, Whose power hath a true consent With planet, or with element. Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In sceptred pall come sweeping by, Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine, Or what, though rare, of later age Ennobled hath the buskined stage. But, O sad Virgin! that thy power Might raise Musaeus from his bower, Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing Such notes as warbled to the string Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, And made Hell grant what love did seek; Or call up him that left half-told The story of Cambuscan bold, Of Camball, and of Algarsife, And who had Canace to wife, That owned the virtuous ring and glass; And of the wondrous horse of brass, On which the Tartar king did ride; And if ought else great bards beside In sage and solemn tunes have sung, Of tourneys and of trophies hung, Of forests and enchantments drear, Where more is meant than meets the ear. Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career, Till civil-suited Morn appear, Not tricked and frounced, as she was wont With the Attic boy to hunt, But kerchiefed in a comely cloud, While rocking winds are piping loud, Or ushered with a shower still, When the gust hath blown his fill, Ending on the rustling leaves, With minute-drops from off the eaves. And when the sun begins to fling His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring To arched walks of twilight groves, And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves, Of pine, or monumental oak, Where the rude axe with heaved stroke Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt, Or fright them from their hallowed haunt There, in close covert by some brook, Where no profaner eye may look, Hide me from day's garish eye, While the bee with honeyed thigh, That at her flowery work doth sing, And the waters murmuring, With such concert as they keep, Entice the dewy-feathered Sleep. And let some strange, mysterious dream Wave at his wings, in aery stream Of lively portraiture displayed, Softly on my eyelids laid; And, as I wake, sweet music breathe Above, about, or underneath, Sent by some Spirit to mortals good, Or the unseen Genius of the wood. But let my due feet never fail To walk the studious cloisters pale, And love the high embowed roof, With antic pillars massy-proof And storied windows richly dight, Casting a dim religious light. There let the pealing organ blow, To the full-voiced quire below, In service high, and anthems clear, As may with sweetness, through mine ear, Dissolve me into ecstasies, And bring all Heaven before mine eyes. And may at last my weary age Find out the peaceful hermitage, The hairy gown and mossy cell, Where I may sit, and rightly spell Of every star that heaven doth shew, And every herb that sips the dew; Till old experience do attain To something like prophetic strain. These pleasures, Melancholy, give, And I with thee will choose to live.
In this Monody the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester, on the Irish Sea, 1637; and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their height.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere, I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude, And with forced fingers rude Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear, Compel me to disturb your season due; For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer. Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rime. He must not float upon his watery bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well, That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring; Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse— So may some gentle Muse With lucky words favour my destined urn, And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud— For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill; Together both, ere the high lawns appeared Under the opening eyelids of the Morn, We drove a-field, and both together heard What time the grey-fly winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft till the star that rose