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Or the elegiac strain
Softly sings of mental pain,
And mournful diapasons sail
On the faintly dying gale.
But, ah! the soothing scene is o'er,
On middle flight we cease to soar,
For now the muse assumes a bolder sweep,
Strikes on the lyric string her sorrows deep,
In strains unheard before.
Now, now the rising fire thrills high,
Now, now to heaven's high realms we fly,
And every throne explore :
The soul entranced, on mighty wings,
With all the poet's heat upsprings,
And loses earthly woes;
Till all alarm'd at the giddy height,
The Muse descends on gentler flight,
And lulls the wearied soul to soft repose.
– The western gale, Mild as the kisses of connubial love, Plays round my languid limbs, as all dissolved, Beneath the ancient elm's fantastic shade I lie, exhausted with the noontide heat: While rippling o'er its deep worn pebble bed, The rapid rivulet rushes at my feet, Dispensing coolness. On the fringed marge
Full many a floweret rears it head,-or pink,
Or gaudy daffodil. 'Tis here, at noon,
The buskin'd wood-nymphs from the heat retire,
And lave them in the fountain ; here secure
From Pan, or savage satyr, they disport:
Or stretch'd supinely on the velvet turf,
Lull'd by the laden bee, or sultry fly,
Invoke the god of slumber. ...
And, hark! how merrily, from distant tower,
Ring round the village bells ! now on the gale
They rise with gradual swell, distinct and loud;
Anon they die upon the pensive ear,
Melting in faintest music. They bespeak
A day of jubilee, and oft they bear,
Commix'd along the unfrequented shore,
The sound of village dance and tabor loud, ,'.
Startling the musing ear of Solitude.
Such is the jocund wake of Whitsuntide,
When happy Superstition, gabbling eld!
Holds her unhurtful gambols. All the day
The rustic revellers ply the mazy dance
On the smooth shaven green, and then at eve
Commence the harmless rites and auguries;
And many a tale of ancient days goes round.
They tell of wizard seer, whose potent spells
Could hold in dreadful thrall the labouring moon,
Or draw the fix'd stars from their eminence,
And still the midnight tempest. Then anon
Tell of uncharnel'd spectres, seen to glide
Along the lone wood's unfrequented path,
Startling the ’nighted traveller; while the sound
Of undistinguish'd murmurs, heard to come
From the dark centre of the deepening glen,
Struck on his frozen ear.
Oh, Ignorance !
Thou art fallen man's best friend! With thee he
In frigid apathy along his way. [speeds
And never does the tear of agony
Burn down his scorching cheek; or the keen steel
Of wounded feeling penetrate his breast.
E’en now, as leaning on this fragrant bank,
I taste of all the keener happiness
Which sense refined affords—E'en now my heart
Would fain induce me to forsake the world,
Throw off these garments, and in shepherd's weeds,
With a small flock, and short suspended reed,
To sojourn in the woodland.—Then my thought
Draws such gay pictures of ideal bliss,
That I could almost err in reason's spite,
And trespass on my judgment.
Such is life:
The distant prospect always seems more fair,
And when attain'd, another still succeeds,
Far fairer than before,—yet compass'd round
With the same dangers, and the same dismay.
And we poor pilgrims in this dreary maze,
Still discontented, chase the fairy form
Of unsubstantial Happiness, to find,
When life itself is sinking in the strife,
'Tis but an airy bubble and a cheat.
COMMENCEMENT OF A POEM ON DESPAIR.
Some to Aonian lyres of silver sound
With winning elegance attune their song,
Form’d to sink lightly on the soothed sense,
And charm the soul with softest harmony:
'Tis then that Hope with sanguine eye is seen
Roving through Fancy's gay futurity;
Her heart light dancing to the sounds of pleasure,
Pleasure of days to come. Memory, too, then
Comes with her sister, Melancholy sad,
Pensively musing on the scenes of youth,
Scenes never to return.*
Such subjects merit poets used to raise
The attic verse harmonious; but for me
A dreadlier theme demands my backward hand,
And bids me strike the strings of dissonance
With frantic energy.
'Tis wan Despair I sing, if sing I can
Of him before whose blast the voice of Song,
And Mirth, and Hope, and Happiness all fly,
Nor ever dare return. His notes are heard
At noon of night, where, on the coast of blood,
The lacerated son of Angola
Howls forth his sufferings to the moaning wind;
And, when the awful silence of the night
Strikes the chill death-dew to the murderer's heart,
He speaks in every conscience-prompted word
* Alluding to the two pleasing poems, the Pleasures of Hope and of Memory.
Half utter'd, half suppress’d.
'Tis him I sing—Despair—terrific name,
Striking unsteadily the tremulous chord
Of timorous terror_discord in the sound :
For to a theme revolting as is this,
Dare not I woo the maids of harmony,
Who love to sit and catch the soothing sound
Of lyre Æolian, or the martial bugle,
Calling the hero to the field of glory,
And firing him with deeds of high emprise
And warlike triumph: but from scenes like mine
Shrink they affrighted, and detest the bard
Who dares to sound the hollow tones of horror.
. Hence, then, soft maids,
And woo the silken zephyr in the bowers
By Heliconia's sleep-inviting stream:
For aid like yours I seek not; 'tis for powers
Of darker hue to inspire a verse like mine!
'Tis work for wizards, sorcerers, and fiends.
Hither, ye furious imps of Acheron, Nurslings of hell, and beings shunning light, And all the myriads of the burning concave: Souls of the damned:-Hither, oh! come and join The infernal chorus. 'Tis despair I sing ! He, whose sole tooth inflicts a deadlier pang Than all your tortures join'd. Sing, sing Despair! Repeat the sound, and celebrate his power; Unite shouts, screams, and agonizing shrieks, Till the loud pæan ring through hell's high vault, And the remotest spirits of the deep Leap from the lake, and join the dreadful song.