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ON THE VANITY OF SMALL

ON THE VANITY OF SMALL SUCCESSES.

CCI SSES.

Oh! that our youth had dreamt to what an urn

Of dust our quick and high desires would shrink ! We stand upon the beach and ask return,

For barks ordained to sink !

There's not one plank on which we freight an aim

Purer than aught by life's coarse natures sought, Which the harsh sea engulphs not :---can we blame

Those who adventure nought ? But in a calm and chill philosophy

Suppress within them each more vague desire ; For them no half-felt feelings pant and sigh;

No unfledg’d hopes expire !

Mother of Fate-primæval Night--thine old

And unvex'd oracles are round me still; The sybil Stars, and She who lost her cold

Name on the Carian Hill !

Say thou,--..for in thy weird and demon homes

Thou shroud’st the spectres of departed lore, Dread Egypt's mysteries, and the mouldering tomes,

From which the Samian bore

The treasure of his doctrine !--All that glow'd

Out from the heart of man in ages gone Like perish'd stars into thy black abode,

Without a dirge have wonne !

Say_boots our labour?--Were it not more wise

To drink Life's tide unwitting where it flows, Renounce the high-soul'd toil, and only prize

The Cnidian vine and rose ?

True, for some few on whom her lavish smile,

Fame---the false Lais of the doting sage--Bestows; there may be somewhat to beguile

Youth's travail into Age !

The laurel lulls the aching brow it decks;

And the loud pæäns of the gazing horde,
As speeds our bark among surrounding wrecks,

Bring no disdained reward.

But here, among the dense and struggling herd,

For me no proud success and glory wait;
The wronging judgment and the venomed word,

The Envy and the Hate

Envy and Hate !---for what ?--for boons so slight,

That I could gnaw my heart that mine they are, Did I not know that proud heart's baffled flight

Sought meeds how different far !

O Night !--my woo'd and won, and earliest friend,

Was it for this my soul I shaped and bowed, And from my dreams' Olympus did descend

To the self-vassal'd crowd?

Seeking---nor yet with vulgar wish-to wield

Arms coldly lov’d—but in a Cause of Right-Content for that-light hours and love to yield,

Was it for this sweet Night ?

Thou answerest not--but round thee, lo! the clouds

Are darkening into ire--the Moon is gone,
And the ghost stars lie wan within their shrouds,

The storm sweeps labouring on!

Shine out---shine out, my true and stedfast soul

My answer and my solace come from thee! Round earth’s low heaven--the shade, the storm may roll,

Thou art a Heaven to Me!

Foes and Life's baffled ends--the hydra birth

Of cares---upon thy front can stamp no frown, But on the shifts and phantoms of the earth

Thou with a smile look’st down!

TO JULIET.
THE VINDICATION OF SILENCE.
WHEN heavens are bright, how stilly glide

The waters to the lulling air !
I feel THEE on my heart's deep tide--

How can I break the silence there?

ON FOREBODINGS.

What are ye, haggard and all ghastly warnings-
Ye moral wraiths of the contemning soul ?
Ye glide away like clouds beneath our scornings,
But heavy, dark, and mournful, back ye roll.
Without a cause the heart beats high and quick,
And the blest breath grows labour-fraught and thick.

What are ye?—Phantoms of the brain ? — The crude
And half-begot chimæras that arise
From our most earthly members, and intrude
A loathly shadow on our mental eyes ?
Wan nightmares of drows'd thought ?—the goblin banes
That steam and flit from the o’erpamper'd veins ?

What! can these seerlike and unearthly shapes
Of Thought be fathered thus ? And can a crumb—
An incoct atom, kindle that which apes
A demon's horror-and can strike us dumb-
Appal us to the centre of our clay-
And shake the Spirit on her Throne ?-Away!

What ! to these wretched wants mst we fulfil
A slavery so subjected and entire,
Bearing a devil in ourselves—at will
To mock the Angel Thought that would aspire
Out from this nether cell ;—to laugh to scorn
The very aims for which all thought was born ?

Can we not hold ev’n this most lean and poor
Pittance of sense, but that to every heat
And frailty of the flesh, we must endure
To pare and pawn the dowry; and complete
All degradation by the gibe and guile
Of the worm's prey, which rots the very while ?

Nay!—have ye not been prophets in your strange
Revealings, and with no oracular* faith,
Betokened woe or weal; and the last change
Of this our state ? as if there were in death,
And that which stirs within us, something more
Of speech and commune than our creeds explore !

The hardest and the coldest breasts have thrilled
As ye have passed them on your ghostlike way;
And in the hour ye whispered—have fulfilled
Their doom :-Upon the dial of their clay
Rested the shadowy hand,—and at the chime
Foretold—they had no farther note of time!

We boast our growing wisdom !-Know we more
Than he,f the source of Plato's golden stream ?
Have we a bolder sense—a steadier lore ?
Mix we with science no more shadowy dream ?-
Yet he, dread spectres, mocked ve not; but taught
Your credence with a bow'd and reverent thought..

Oracular is here used in the sense of dubious. + Socrates.

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