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Of noon I issue forth with nerves unstrung,
Half-lifeless, and unheeding where I stray,
Till, cross'd the sun-burnt lawn, I reach at lengtly
With many a slow sad step, the sloping bank,
Where the pale willow droops athwart the stream;
Here, though I taste not gladness, will I stretch
My languid frame beneath the chequer'd shade,
Haply to find a mitigated pain,
And lighten'd feel this burthen of myself,
Till day's meridian fierceness be o'erpast.
Now all is mute, and the right-downward beam,
That browns the pasturage, and drains each flower
Of all its freshness, shrivelling up its leaves,
Falls too on herd and cattle; round the deer
Lie faint beneath their beech-shades, while the flocks
Stand idly in the shallows of the brook,
Fanning off insects with the slow-swung tail.
Where now are all the gambols of their young,
The frisking antics of the morning hour?
When midse the fresh and sparkling dew they leap'd,
And the cool air breathed gladness? Now the lark,
That with the sun had risen, and upward sprung
Joyous to heaven-gate, carolling her lay,
Folds up her russet pinion, and withdraws,
Languid and silent, to yon inmost grove.
Such o'er all nature is th' oppressive sway
Of noon-tide heat: ah! like the leaden mace
Of Tyranny, that numbs each heaven-born power,
And levels low all energies of mind;
Or the yet heavier rule of dumb. Despair,
That with its weight breaks down each inward spring.
Me, too, th' intenseness of the sultry beam
Has sunk in languor, draiu'd my nimble spirits,
Exhaled the health and marrow of my brain;
A heavier load of atmosphere appears
To press around me; painful 'tis to breathe,
An effort er'n to lift the listless hand.
Yet not alone with herds and flocks I sbare
Meridian feebleness. Ah me! 'twere well
If this close air and burning sun subdued
Only my animal frame: but who can tell
The wretchedness, the loathing of my life,
With its vain toils, vain pleasures, that attend
This Incubus of Day? who can recount
All the sad thoughts he wakes within my
Time was, when, eager in life's joyous prime,
This bosom knew no heaviness; gay Pleasure
Danced like a blooming nymph before my path,
And, pointing to her rose-bowers, beckon'd me
To pluck their sweetness; ardent fancy sketch'd,
With rainbow hues, upon the pendent veil
That hid futurity, a brilliant scene,
Fields ever fair, and skies without a cloud;
· Then every nerve was thrilld with hope and joy;
Or, if a transient sorrow claim'd a tear,
It fell and vanish'd like an April shower;
And all again was sunshine, promise, peace :
Or, if I upward look'd, lo! Glory sate
High on a rock, and cheer'd me to ascend,
To claim a niche 'within the marble fane
That crown'd the steep. With glowing breast I heaved
From the low vale, and bounded at her call,
Like a young roe along the mountain side.
These days—no more of them-Oh! gone they are, For ever gone.
Even in the spring of life
The rose-buds died. The curtain is drawn up,
And lo! the scene is sad reality.
And did I fondly ween, Ambition, crown'd With glad success, would compensation yield For Pleasure's lie, for Fancy's vanish'd bliss!
Ah! envied few, ye comrades of my youth, With whom I started in life's eager race, And like whose glorious course mine might have proved; Nor lingering, nor misled, with panting hearts
You push'd right onward, while the loose-zoned maid
Unheeded cross'd your path: her siren song
Assail'd your soul, but soon, as from a rock,
Roll’d back a wasted melody; for still
Attention stedfast look'd towards the goal,
Wbile Reason, with his wand, your chosen guide,
Dispellid Imagination's air-built fanes,
And promises of bliss to indolence.
Your toil is o'er, and yours is now the palm,
The shout of thousands, and the laurel crown;
Ah! envied !--When together we set forth-
Yes! I was fresh and vigorous as you,
And might, like you, have speeded. Now the race
Is run and lost, and I, unpraised, unknown,
Follow inglorious ;-doom'd to hide my shame
Midst the low crowds of mediocrity:
Past is my pride, my honour among men.
In those illusive hours, when Cheerfulness
Conducts Reflection, and bears up
Placid, self-satisfied, the mind will turn
Inward its contemplative eye, and smile;
Then all looks glad and joyous, as creation,
When fresh and fragrant from the summer shower
It glitters in the sun: 0! then, the soul
Panting with ardour, big with confidence,
Deems it has giant powers, and will achieve
Things yet untried by man: th' enthusiast glow
Burns in each vein, fire flashes from the eye,
The framne’s incumbent weight seems lighten'd, raised,
Expanded by an energy divine!
Yet soon, too soon, the paroxysm subsides
In sad despondence: now the powers collapse
And sink in lassitude, wbile all around
The scene is darken’d, and the languid eye
Perceives no beauty in the earth or heavens,
Nor aught to be desired—delights no more
Or man or woman: science, pleasure, wealth,
All the pursuits, the uses of this world,
Seem weary, flat, unprofitable, stale:
Ah! now no more complacent musings spring
From self-inspection; discontent, despair,
Its sole results; while imperfection stains,
Or seems to stain, all objects and all toils,
But most of all, in the sad sufferer's mind,
Whate'er had sprung from his inventive brain,
And once seem'd fair and faultless. With a blush,
Viewing his own creation, in disgust
He blots the canvas, or destroys the page.
Alas! for him, who in this woe-fraught hour,
Finds nought within to prop his sinking soul,
No secret flattery, no consciousness,
That on the walks of life he is revered,
And named with honour by the sage and good
That might be something, echoing their praise,
The mind in sweet soliloquy might say,
“ Be of good cheer, 'tis but a passing cloud;
Anon the sun will pour his radiance bright,
And all once more will be serene; -the while
Endure." But how, if all the inoral past
Be but a blank, or worse; if strong desire
To climb to honour have sustain'd defeat ;
If no soft welcome accent lave approved
The cherish'd view that look'd to future times,
And grasp'd the laurel of a century's growth?
()! who can bear, when such the drear account,
Reflection's horror:-who, but feels, can tell !
Then all the common places, which the world
Prattles by rote, and thinks not from the heart,
That life is brief, and full of cares ; delight
A passing flower, that withers as it blows;
That wealth is worthless, since it cannot buy
Tranquillity; that friendship is inost false,
And wisdom's self most vain ;-vain every wish
And each research of man, who, toiling long,
Is baffled in pursuit, or may succeed
And grasp a shadow :—these and many more,
The saws of Pedantry with frozen lips,
That lectures woe, are realized and felt,
Felt with a pain acute it never knew.
What then remains, since all is worthless, vaini,
Beneath a wise man's aim, a good man's hope,
But to escape from this polluted scene,
To burst the toil, and fee :-Rash mind! forbear;
Think of the mandate, “ Tarry till I call;"
Endure unto the end; wait, wait th' appointed time,
Nor rusl unlicenced to the judgment-throne;
For canst thou tell what lies across the gulf?
And were it worse than all thy sufferings here,
Say, canst thou flee from that?
Back to thy sheath, detested poniard !-No,
Though all this world be weariness, though hope
Of gladness be from me for ever fled,
My sole sad prospect but to totter on
Some joyless years, and sink into the grave;
Yet will I bend me to th' awards of Heaven,
Nor wrest its high prerogative, to say,
When I have borne enough. Dark are God's ways,
Yet not less wise, because unsearchable.
In each affliction be decrees, design
There is, and doubtless that design is good:
In this depression even I now sustain,
This weariness of life this hate of self,
May mercy be at work. And be it so!
Look, look, my soul, on thy polluted self,
Nor think thou gazest with a jauudiced eye,
What now thou loath'st is thou, is very
Self-Hattery gloss'd thee in thy brighter hours ;
Now first thou hat'st, now first thou know'st, thyself.
Know and amerd, that when the hour shall come,
That brings thy lawful summons to be gone,
Thou may'st depart with dignity and hope.
Lo! the wide field of Piety extends,
The field of Virtue, fair beneath thy feet:
Act well thy part, and smooth thy wrinkled brow,