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Where, save the rugged road, we find
No appanage of human kind,
Nor hint of man; if stone or rock
Seem not his handiwork to mock
By something cognizably shaped ;
Mockery, — or model roughly hewn,
And left as if by earthquake strewn,
Or from the flood escaped :
Altars for Druid service fit
(But where no fire was ever lit,
Unless the glowworm to the skies
Thence offer nightly sacrifice);
Wrinkled Egyptian monument;
Green, moss-grown tower; or hoary tent;
Tents of a camp that never shall be raised,
On which four thousand years have gazed !
Ye ploughshares sparkling on the slopes !
Ye snow-white lambs that trip
Imprisoned mid the formal props
Of restless ownership ?
Ye trees, that may to-morrow fall
To feed the insatiate prodigal !
Lawns, houses, chattels, groves, and fields,
All that the fertile valley shields;
Wages of folly, baits of crime,
Of life's uneasy game the stake,
Playthings that keep the eyes awake
Of drowsy, dotard Time;
O care! O guilt! O vales and plains,
Here, mid his own unvexed domains,
A genius dwells, that can subdue
At once all memory of you,
Most potent when .mists veil the sky,
Mists that distort and magnify;
While the coarse rushes, to the sweeping breeze,
Sigh forth their ancient melodies !
List to those shriller notes !- that march
Perchance was on the blast,
When through this height's inverted arch
Rome's earliest legion passed !
They saw, adventurously impelled,
And older eyes than theirs beheld,
This block, — and yon, whose church-like frame
Gives to this savage pass its name.
Aspiring road! that lov'st to hide
Thy daring in a vapory bourn,
Not seldom may the hour return
When thou shalt be my guide;
And I (as all men may find cause,
When life is at a weary pause,
And they have panted up the hill
Of duty with reluctant will)
Be thankful, even though tired and faint,
For the rich bounties of constraint;
Whence oft invigorating transports flow
That choice lacked courage to bestow !
My soul was grateful for delight
That wore a threatening brow;
A veil is lifted, — can she slight
The scene that opens now?
Though habitation none appear,
The greemness tells man must be there;
The shelter that the perspective
Is of the clime in which we live;
Where Toil pursues his daily round;
Where Pity sheds sweet tears; and Love,
In woodbine bower or birchen grove,
Inflicts his tender wound.
Who comes not hither ne'er shall know
How beautiful the world below;
Nor can he guess how lightly leaps
The brook adown the rocky steeps.
Farewell, thou desolate domain!
Hope, pointing to the cultured plain,
Carols like a shepherd-boy;
And who is she ? — can that be Joy!
Who, with a sunbeam for her guide,
Smoothly skims the meadows wide ;
While Faith, from yonder opening cloud,
To hill and vale proclaims aloud,
“Whate'er the weak may dread, the wicked dare,
Thy lot, O man, is good, thy portion fair!”
The widowed founder of these ancient walls, Where fancy still on meek devotion calls, Marking the ivied arch and turret gray, For her soul's rest — eternal rest — to pray; Where visionary nuns yet seem to tread, A pale dim troop, the cloisters of the dead, Though twice three hundred years have flown away ! But when with silent step and pensive mien, In weeds, as mourning for her sisters gone, The mistress of this lone monastic scene Came, and I heard her voice's tender tone, I said, Though centuries have rolled between, One gentle, beauteous nun is left, on earth alone.
William Lisle Bowles.
TO A BIRD THAT HAUNTED THE WATERS OF LAKEN IN
Thou standest by the margin of the pool; And, taught by God, dost thy whole being school To patience, which all evil can allay:
God has appointed thee the fish thy prey;
And given thyself a lesson to the fool
Unthrifty, to submit to moral rule,
And his unthinking course by thee to weigh.
There need not schools nor the professor's chair,
Though these be good, true wisdom to impart:
He who has not enough for these to spare
Of time or gold may yet amend his heart,
And teach his soul by brooks and rivers fair:
Nature is always wise in every part.
THE RINGERS OF LANCELL'S TOWER.
THEY meet once more ! that ancient band,
With furrowed cheek and failing hand;
One peal to-day they fain would ring,
The jubilee of England's king!
They meet once more ! but where are now
The sinewy arm, the laughing brow,
The strength that hailed, in happier times,
King George the Third with lusty chimes ?
Yet proudly gaze on that lone tower,
No goodlier sight hath hall or bower;
Meekly they strive, and closing day
Gilds with soft light their locks of gray.