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AS IT APPEARED TO ENTHUSIASTS AT ITS COMMENCEMENT.*
REPRINTED FROM "THE FRIEND."
O PLEASANT exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love !
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven! - O times
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute took at once
The attraction of a country in romance !
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress — to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name !
Not favored spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full-blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
* This and the Extract, Vol. I. p. 219, and the first piece of this Class, are from the unpublished Poem of which some account is given in the Preface to the EXCURSION.
They who had fed their childhood upon dreains,
The playfellows of fancy, — who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers, — who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it; — they, too, who, of gentle mood,
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves ; —
Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their heart's desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us, - the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all !
Yes, it was the mountain Echo,
Solitary, clear, profound,
Answering to the shouting Cuckoo,
Giving to her sound for sound !
To a babbling wanderer sent;
Like her ordinary cry,
Like — but oh! how different!
Hears not also mortal Life ?
Hear not we, unthinking Creatures !
Slaves of folly, love, or strife,
Voices of two different natures ?
Have not we too? — yes, we have
Answers, and we know not whence ;
Echoes from beyond the grave,
Recognized intelligence !
Such rebounds our inward ear
Catches sometimes from afar;-
Listen, ponder, hold them dear;
For of God, — of God they are.
ETHEREAL minstrel ! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?
Or, while the wings aspire, are heart and eye
Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground ?
Thy nest, which thou canst drop into at will,
Those quivering wings composed, that music still.
Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;
A privacy of glorious light is thine;
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood
Of harmony, with instinct more divine;
Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!
“ With sacrifice before the rising morn
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired ;
And from the infernal Gods, ʼmid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required :
Celestial pity I again implore ; —
Restore him to my sight, - great Jove, restore !”
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the Suppliant heavenward lifts her
hands; While, like the sun emerging from a cloud, Her countenance brightens and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows; And she expects the issue in repose..
O terror! what hath she perceived ? - O joy!
What doth she look on ? — whom doth she behold?
Her Hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence ? his corporeal mould ?
It is, — if sense deceive her not, -— 't is He !
And a God leads him, winged Mercury !
Mild Hermes spake, — and touched her with his
wand That calms all fear: “ Such grace hath crowned
thy prayer, Laodamía! that at Jove's command Thy Husband walks the paths of upper air : He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space; Accept the gift, behold him face to face !”
Forth sprang the impassioned Queen her Lord to
Again that consummation she essayed;
But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The Phantom parts, – but parts to reunite,
And reassume his place before her sight.
“ Protesiláus, lo ! thy guide is gone!
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice :
This is our palace, - yonder is thy throne;