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Miscellaneous Poems (Felicia Hemans)

Published onApr 12, 2024
Miscellaneous Poems (Felicia Hemans)

Miscellaneous Poems

By Felicia Hemans


O wanderer! would thy heart forget

Each earthly passion and regret,

And would thy wearied spirit rise

To commune with its native skies;

Pause for a while, and deem it sweet

To linger in this calm retreat;

And give thy cares, thy griefs, a short suspense,

Amidst wild scenes of lone magnificence.

Unmix’d with aught of meaner tone,

Here Nature’s voice is heard alone:

When the loud storm, in wrathful hour,

Is rushing on its wing of power,

And spirits of the deep awake,

And surges foam, and billows break,

And rocks and ocean-caves around

Reverberate each awful sound—

That mighty voice, with all its dread control,

To loftiest thought shall wake thy thrilling soul.

But when no more the sea-winds rave,

When peace is brooding on the wave,

And from earth, air, and ocean rise

No sounds but plaintive melodies;

Soothed by their softly mingling swell,

As daylight bids the world farewell,

The rustling wood, the dying breeze,

The faint low rippling of the seas,

A tender calm shall steal upon thy breast,

A gleam reflected from the realms of rest.

Is thine a heart the world hath stung,

Friends have deceived, neglect hath wrung?

Hast thou some grief that none may know,

Some lonely, secret, silent woe?

Or have thy fond affections fled

From earth, to slumber with the dead?—

Oh! pause awhile—the world disown,

And dwell with Nature’s self alone!

And though no more she bids arise

Thy soul’s departed energies,

And though thy joy of life is o’er,

Beyond her magic to restore;

Yet shall her spells o’er every passion steal,

And soothe the wounded heart they cannot heal.


No bitter tears for thee be shed,

Blossom of being! seen and gone!

With flowers alone we strew thy bed,

O blest departed One!

Whose all of life, a rosy ray,

Blush’d into dawn and pass’d away.

Yes! thou art fled, ere guilt had power

To stain thy cherub-soul and form,

Closed is the soft ephemeral flower

That never felt a storm!

The sunbeam’s smile, the zephyr’s breath,

All that it knew from birth to death.

Thou wert so like a form of light,

That heaven benignly call’d thee hence,

Ere yet the world could breathe one blight

O’er thy sweet innocence:

And thou, that brighter home to bless,

Art pass’d, with all thy loveliness!

Oh I hadst thou still on earth remain’d,

Vision of beauty! fair, as brief!

How soon thy brightness had been stain’d

With passion or with grief!

Now not a sullying breath can rise

To dim thy glory in the skies.

We rear no marble o’er thy tomb—

No sculptured image there shall mourn;

Ah! fitter far the vernal bloom

Such dwelling to adorn.

Fragrance, and flowers, and dews, must be

The only emblems meet for thee.

Thy grave shall be a blessed shrine,

Adorn’d with Nature’s brightest wreath;

Each glowing season shall combine

Its incense there to breathe;

And oft, upon the midnight air,

Shall viewless harps be murmuring there.

And oh! sometimes in visions blest,

Sweet spirit! visit our repose;

And bear, from thine own world of rest,

Some balm for human woes!

What form more lovely could be given

Than thine to messenger of heaven?


Hush’d is the world in night and sleep—

Earth, sea, and air are still as death;

Too rude to break a calm so deep

Were music’s faintest breath.

Descend, bright visions! from aërial bowers,

Descend to gild your own soft silent hours.

In hope or fear, in toil or pain,

The weary day have mortals pass’d;

Now, dreams of bliss! be yours to reign,

And all your spells around them cast;

Steal from their hearts the pang, their eyes the tear,

And lift the veil that hides a brighter sphere.

Oh, bear your softest balm to those

Who fondly, vainly, mourn the dead!

To them that world of peace disclose

Where the bright soul is fled:

Whore Love, immortal in his native clime,

Shall fear no pang from fate, no blight from time.

Or to his loved, his distant land

On your light wings the exile bear,

To feel once more his heart expand

In his own genial mountain-air;

Hear the wild echoes well-known strains repeat,

And bless each note, as heaven’s own music sweet.

But oh! with fancy’s brightest ray,

Blest dreams! the bard’s repose illume;

Bid forms of heaven around him play,

And bowers of Eden bloom!

And waft his spirit to its native skies

Who finds no charm in life’s realities.

No voice is on the air of night,

Through folded leaves no murmurs creep,

Nor star nor moonbeam’s trembling light

Falls on the placid brow of sleep.

Descend, bright visions! from your airy bower:

Dark, silent, solemn is your favourite hour.


Brave spirit! mourn’d with fond regret,

Lost in life’s pride, in valour’s noon,

Oh, who could deem thy star should set

So darkly and so soon!

Fatal, though bright, the fire of mind

Which mark’d and closed thy brief career,

And the fair wreath, by Hope entwined,

Lies wither’d on thy bier.

The soldier’s death hath been thy doom,

The soldier’s tear thy mead shall be;

Yet, son of war! a prouder tomb

Might Fate have rear’d for thee.

Thou shouldst have died, O high-soul’d chief!

In those bright days of glory fled,

When triumph so prevail’d o’er grief

We scarce could mourn the dead.

Noontide of fame! each tear-drop then

Was worthy of a warrior’s grave:

When shall affection weep again

So proudly o’er the brave?

There, on the battle-fields of Spain,

Midst Roncesvalles’ mountain-scene,

Or on Vitoria’s blood-red plain,

Meet had thy deathbed been.

We mourn not that a hero’s life

Thus in its ardent prime should close;

Hadst thou but fallen in nobler strife,

But died midst conquer’d foes!

Yet hast thou still (though victory’s flame

In that last moment cheer’d thee not)

Left Glory’s isle another name,

That ne’er may be forgot:

And many a tale of triumph won

Shall breathe that name in Memory’s ear,

And long may England mourn a son

Without reproach or fear.



“Happy are they who die in youth, when their renown is around them.”—Ossian.

Weep’st thou for him, whose doom was seal’d

On England’s proudest battle-field?

For him, the lion-heart, who died

In victory’s full resistless tide?

Oh, mourn him not!

By deeds like his that field was won,

And Fate could yield to Valour’s son

No brighter lot.

He heard his band’s exulting cry,

He saw the vanquish’d eagles fly;

And envied be his death of fame!

It shed a sunbeam o’er his name

That nought shall dim:

No cloud obscured his glory’s day,

It saw no twilight of decay.

Weep not for him!

And breathe no dirge’s plaintive moan,

A hero claims far loftier tone!

Oh, proudly shall the war-song swell,

Recording how the mighty fell

In that dread hour,

When England, midst the battle-storm—

The avenging angel—rear’d her form

In tenfold power.

Yet, gallant heart! to swell thy praise,

Vain were the minstrel’s noblest lays;

Since he, the soldier’s guiding star,

The Victor-chief, the lord of war,

Has own’d thy fame:

And oh! like his approving word,

What trophied marble could record

A warrior’s name?



Oh! forget not the hour when through forest and vale

We return’d with our chief to his dear native halls;

Through the woody sierra there sigh’d not a gale,

And the moonbeam was bright on his battlement-walls;

And nature lay sleeping in calmness and light,

Round the home of the valiant, that rose on our sight.

We enter’d that home—all was loneliness round,

The stillness, the darkness, the peace of the grave;

Not a voice, not a step, bade its echoes resound:

Ah, such was the welcome that waited the brave!

For the spoilers had pass’d, like the poison-wind’s breath,

And the loved of his bosom lay silent in death.

Oh! forget not that hour—let its image be near,

In the light of our mirth, in the dreams of our rest,

Let its tale awake feelings too deep for a tear,

And rouse into vengeance each arm and each breast,

Till cloudless the dayspring of liberty shine

O’er the plains of the olive and hills of the vine.


Warriors! my noon of life is past,

The brightness of my spirit flown;

I crouch before the wintry blast,

Amidst my tribe I dwell alone;

The heroes of my youth are fled,

They rest among the warlike dead.

Ye slumberers of the narrow cave!

My kindred chiefs in days of yore!

Ye fill an unremember’d grave,

Your fame, your deeds, are known no more.

The records of your wars are gone,

Your names forgot by all but one.

Soon shall that one depart from earth,

To join the brethren of his prime;

Then will the memory of your birth

Sleep with the hidden things of time.

With him, ye sons of former days!

Fades the last glimmering of your praise.

His eyes, that hail’d your spirits’ flame,

Still kindling in the combat’s shock,

Have seen, since darkness veil’d your fame,

Sons of the desert and the rock!

Another and another race

Rise to the battle and the chase.

Descendants of the mighty dead!

Fearless of heart, and firm of hand!

Oh, let me join their spirits fled—

Oh! send me to their shadowy land.

Age hath not tamed Ontara’s heart—

He shrinks not from the friendly dart.

These feet no more can chase the deer,

The glory of this arm is flown;—

Why should the feeble linger here

When all the pride of life is gone?

Warriors! why still the stroke deny?

Think ye Ontara fears to die?

He fear’d not in his flower of days,

When strong to stem the torrent’s force,

When through the desert’s pathless maze

His way was as an eagle’s course!

When war was sunshine to his sight,

And the wild hurricane delight!

Shall, then, the warrior tremble now?

Now when his envied strength is o’er—

Hung on the pine his idle bow,

His pirogue useless on the shore?

When age hath dimm’d his failing eye,

Shall he, the joyless, fear to die?

Sons of the brave! delay no more—

The spirits of my kindred call.

’Tis but one pang, and all is o’er!

Oh, bid the aged cedar fall!

To join the brethren of his prime,

The mighty of departed time.


Soft skies of Italy! how richly drest,

Smile these wild scenes in your purpureal glow!

What glorious hues, reflected from the west,

Float o’er the dwellings of eternal snow!

Yon torrent, foaming down the granite steep,

Sparkles all brilliance in the setting beam;

Dark glens beneath in shadowy beauty sleep,

Where pipes the goat-herd by his mountain-stream.

Now from yon peak departs the vivid ray,

That still at eve its lofty temple knows;

From rock and torrent fade the tints away,

And all is wrapt in twilight’s deep repose:

While through the pine-wood gleams the vesper star,

And roves the Alpine gale o’er solitudes afar.


Son of the mighty and the free!

High-minded leader of the brave!

Was it for lofty chief like thee

To fill a nameless grave?

Oh! if amidst the valiant slain

The warrior’s bier had been thy lot,

E’en though on red Culloden’s plain,

We then had mourn’d thee not.

But darkly closed thy dawn of fame,

That dawn whose sunbeam rose so fair;

Vengeance alone may breathe thy name,

The watchword of Despair!

Yet, oh! if gallant spirit’s power

Hath e’er ennobled death like thine,

Then glory mark’d thy parting hour,

Last of a mighty line!

O’er thy own towers the sunshine falls,

But cannot chase their silent gloom;

Those beams that gild thy native walls

Are sleeping on thy tomb!

Spring on thy mountains laughs the while,

Thy green woods wave in vernal air,

But the loved scenes may vainly smile:

Not e’en thy dust is there.

On thy blue hills no bugle-sound

Is mingling with the torrent’s roar;

Unmark’d, the wild deer sport around:

Thou lead’st the chase no more!

Thy gates are closed, thy halls are still,

Those halls where peal’d the choral strain;

They hear the wind’s deep murmuring thrill,

And all is hush’d again.

No banner from the lonely tower

Shall wave its blazon’d folds on high;

There the tall grass and summer flower

Unmark’d shall spring and die.

No more thy bard for other ear

Shall wake the harp once loved by thine—

Hush’d be the strain thou canst not hear,

Last of a mighty line!


Chieftains, lead on! our hearts beat high—

Lead on to Salem’s towers!

Who would not deem it bliss to die,

Slain in a cause like ours?

The brave who sleep in soil of thine,

Die not entomb’d but shrined, O Palestine!

Souls of the slain in holy war!

Look from your sainted rest.

Tell us ye rose in Glory’s car,

To mingle with the blest;

Tell us how short the death-pang’s power,

How bright the joys of your immortal bower.

Strike the loud harp, ye minstrel train!

Pour forth your loftiest lays;

Each heart shall echo to the strain

Breathed in the warrior’s praise.

Bid every string triumphant swell

Th’ inspiring sounds that heroes love so well.

Salem! amidst the fiercest hour,

The wildest rage of fight,

Thy name shall lend our falchions power,

And nerve our hearts with might.

Envied be those for thee that fall,

Who find their graves beneath thy sacred wall.

For them no need that sculptured tomb

Should chronicle their fame,

Or pyramid record their doom,

Or deathless verse their name;

It is enough that dust of thine

Should shroud their forms, O blessed Palestine!

Chieftains, lead on! our hearts beat high

For combat’s glorious hour;

Soon shall the red-cross banner fly

On Salem’s loftiest tower!

We burn to mingle in the strife,

Where but to die insures eternal life.


Oh, ne’er be Clanronald the valiant forgot!

Still fearless and first in the combat, he fell;

But we paused not one tear-drop to shed o’er the spot,

We spared not one moment to murmur “Farewell.”

We heard but the battle-word given by the chief,

“To-day for revenge, and to-morrow for grief!”

And wildly, Clanronald! we echo’d the vow,

With the tear on our cheek, and the sword in our hand;

Young son of the brave! we may weep for thee now,

For well has thy death been avenged by thy band,

When they joined in wild chorus the cry of the chief,

“To-day for revenge, and to-morrow for grief!”

Thy dirge in that hour was the bugle’s wild call,

The clash of the claymore, the shout of the brave;

But now thy own bard may lament for thy fall,

And the soft voice of melody sigh o’er thy grave—

While Albyn remembers the words of the chief,

“To-day for revenge, and to-morrow for grief!”

Thou art fallen, O fearless one! flower of thy race!

Descendant of heroes! thy glory is set:

But thy kindred, the sons of the battle and chase,

Have proved that thy spirit is bright in them yet!

Nor vainly have echo’d the words of the chief,

“To-day for revenge, and to-morrow for grief!”


Throne of expression! whence the spirit’s ray

Pours forth so oft the light of mental day,

Where fancy’s fire, affection’s mental beam,

Thought, genius, passion, reign in turn supreme,

And many a feeling, words can ne’er impart,

Finds its own language to pervade the heart:

Thy power, bright orb! what bosom hath not felt,

To thrill, to rouse, to fascinate, to melt!

And, by some spell of undefined control,

With magnet-influence touch the secret soul!

Light of the features! in the morn of youth

Thy glance is nature, and thy language truth;

And ere the world, with all-corrupting sway,

Hath taught e’en thee to flatter and betray,

Th’ ingenuous heart forbids thee to reveal,

Or speak one thought that interest would conceal.

While yet thou seem’st the cloudless mirror given

But to reflect the purity of heaven,

Oh! then how lovely, there unveil’d, to trace

Th’ unsullied brightness of each mental grace!

When Genius lends thee all his living light,

Where the full beams of intellect unite;

When love illumes thee with his varying ray,

Where trembling Hope and tearful Rapture play;

Or Pity’s melting cloud thy beam subdues,

Tempering its lustre with a veil of dews;

Still does thy power, whose all-commanding spell

Can pierce the mazes of the soul so well,

Bid some new feeling to existence start

From its deep slumbers in the inmost heart.

And oh! when thought, in ecstasy sublime,

That soars triumphant o’er the bounds of time,

Fires thy keen glance with inspiration’s blaze,

The light of heaven, the hope of nobler days,

(As glorious dreams, for utterance far too high,

Flash through the mist of dim mortality;)

Who does not own, that through thy lightning-beams

A flame unquenchable, unearthly, streams?

That pure, though captive effluence of the sky,

The vestal-ray, the spark that cannot die!


Life’s parting beams were in his eye,

Life’s closing accents on his tongue,

When round him, pealing to the sky,

The shout of victory rung!

Then, ere his gallant spirit fled,

A smile so bright illumed his face—

Oh! never, of the light it shed,

Shall memory lose a trace!

His was a death whose rapture high

Transcended all that life could yield;

His warmest prayer was so to die,

On the red battle-field!

And they may feel, who loved him most,

A pride so holy and so pure:

Fate hath no power o’er those who boast

A treasure thus secure!


[“Hélas! nous composions son histoire de tout ce qu’on peut imaginer de plus glorieux.... Le passé et le présent nous garantissoient l’avenir.... Telle étoit l’agréable histoire que nous faisions; et pour achever ces nobles projets, il n’y avoit que la durée de sa vie; dont nous ne croyions pas devoir être en peine, car qui eût pu seulement penser, que les années eussent dû manquer à une jeunesse qui sembloit si vive?”—Bossuet.]


Mark’d ye the mingling of the city’s throng,

Each mien, each glance, with expectation bright?

Prepare the pageant and the choral song,

The pealing chimes, the blaze of festal light!

And hark! what rumour’s gathering sound is nigh?

Is it the voice of joy, that murmur deep?

Away! be hush’d, ye sounds of revelry!

Back to your homes, ye multitudes, to weep!

Weep! for the storm hath o’er us darkly pass’d,

And England’s royal flower is broken by the blast!


Was it a dream? so sudden and so dread

That awful fiat o’er our senses came!

So loved, so blest, is that young spirit fled,

Whose early grandeur promised years of fame?

Oh! when hath life possess’d, or death destroy’d

More lovely hopes, more cloudlessly that smiled?

When hath the spoiler left so dark a void?

For all is lost—the mother and her child!

Our morning-star hath vanish’d, and the tomb

Throws its deep lengthen’d shade o’er distant years to come.


Angel of Death! did no presaging sign

Announce thy coming, and thy way prepare?

No warning voice, no harbinger was thine,

Danger and fear seem’d past—but thou wert there!

Prophetic sounds along the earthquake’s path

Foretell the hour of nature’s awful throes;

And the volcano, ere it burst in wrath,

Sends forth some herald from its dread repose:

But thou, dark Spirit! swift and unforeseen,

Cam’st like the lightning’s flash, when heaven is all serene.


And she is gone!—the royal and the young,

In soul commanding, and in heart benign!

Who, from a race of kings and heroes sprung,

Glow’d with a spirit lofty as her line.

Now may the voice she loved on earth so well

Breathe forth her name unheeded and in vain;

Nor can those eyes on which her own would dwell

Wake from that breast one sympathy again:

The ardent heart, the towering mind are fled,

Yet shall undying love still linger with the dead.


Oh, many a bright existence we have seen

Quench’d in the glow and fulness of its prime;

And many a cherish’d flower, ere now, hath been

Cropt ere its leaves were breathed upon by time.

We have lost heroes in their noon of pride,

Whose fields of triumph gave them but a bier;

And we have wept when soaring genius died,

Check’d in the glory of his mid career!

But here our hopes were centred—all is o’er:

All thought in this absorb’d,—she was—and is no more!


We watch’d her childhood from its earliest hour,

From every word and look blest omens caught;

While that young mind developed all its power,

And rose to energies of loftiest thought.

On her was fix’d the patriot’s ardent eye—

One hope still bloom’d, one vista still was fair;

And when the tempest swept the troubled sky,

She was our dayspring—all was cloudless there;

And oh! how lovely broke on England’s gaze,

E’en through the mist and storm, the fight of distant days.


Now hath one moment darken’d future years,

And changed the track of ages yet to be!—

Yet, mortal! midst the bitterness of tears,

Kneel, and adore th’ inscrutable decree!

Oh! while the clear perspective smiled in light,

Wisdom should then have temper’d hope’s excess;

And, lost One! when we saw thy lot so bright,

We might have trembled at its loveliness.

Joy is no earthly flower—nor framed to bear,

In its exotic bloom, life’s cold, ungenial air.


All smiled around thee: Youth, and Love, and Praise,

Hearts all devotion and all truth were thine!

On thee was riveted a nation’s gaze,

As on some radiant and unsullied shrine.

Heiress of empires! thou art pass’d away

Like some fair vision, that arose to throw

O’er one brief hour of life a fleeting ray,

Then leave the rest to solitude and woe!

Oh! who shall dare to woo such dreams again!

Who hath not wept to know that tears for thee were vain?


Yet there is one who loved thee—and whose soul

With mild affections nature form’d to melt;

His mind hath bow’d beneath the stern control

Of many a grief—but this shall be unfelt!

Years have gone by—and given his honour’d head

A diadem of snow; his eye is dim;

Around him Heaven a solemn cloud hath spread—

The past, the future, are a dream to him!

Yet, in the darkness of his fate, alone

He dwells on earth, while thou in life’s full pride art gone!


The Chastener’s hand is on us—we may weep,

But not repine—for many a storm hath pass’d,

And, pillow’d on her own majestic deep,

Hath England slept, unshaken by the blast!

And War hath raged o’er many a distant plain,

Trampling the vine and olive in his path;

While she, that regal daughter of the main,

Smiled in serene defiance of his wrath!

As some proud summit, mingling with the sky,

Hears calmly far below the thunders roll and die.


Her voice hath been th’ awakener—and her name

The gathering-word of nations. In her might,

And all the awful beauty of her fame,

Apart she dwelt, in solitary light.

High on her cliffs, alone and firm she stood,

Fixing the torch upon her beacon-tower—

That torch whose flame, far streaming o’er the flood,

Hath guided Europe through her darkest hour.

Away, vain dreams of glory!—in the dust

Be humbled, Ocean-queen! and own thy sentence just!


Hark! ’twas the death-bell’s note! which, full and deep,

Unmix’d with aught of less majestic tone,

While all the murmurs of existence sleep,

Swell’d on the stillness of the air alone!

Silent the throngs that fill the darken’d street,

Silent the slumbering Thames, the lonely mart;

And all is still, where countless thousands meet,

Save the full throbbing of the awe-struck heart!

All deeply, strangely, fearfully serene,

As in each ravaged home th’ avenging one had been.


The sun goes down in beauty—his farewell,

Unlike the world he leaves, is calmly bright;

And his last mellow’d rays around us dwell,

Lingering, as if on scenes of young delight.

They smile and fade—but, when the day is o’er,

What slow procession moves with measured tread?—

Lo! those who weep, with her who weeps no more,

A solemn train—the mourners and the dead!

While, throned on high, the moon’s untroubled ray

Looks down, as earthly hopes are passing thus away.


But other light is in that holy pile,

Where, in the house of silence, kings repose;

There, through the dim arcade and pillar’d aisle,

The funeral torch its deep-red radiance throws.

There pall, and canopy, and sacred strain,

And all around the stamp of woe may bear;

But Grief, to whose full heart those forms are vain,

Grief unexpress’d, unsoothed by them—is there.

No darker hour hath Fate for him who mourns,

Than when the all he loved, as dust, to dust returns.


We mourn—but not thy fate, departed One!

We pity—but the living, not the dead;

A cloud hangs o’er us—“the bright day is done,”

And with a father’s hopes, a nation’s fled.

And he, the chosen of thy youthful breast,

Whose soul with thine had mingled every thought—

He, with thine early fond affections blest,

Lord of a mind with all things lovely fraught;

What but a desert to his eye, that earth,

Which but retains of thee the memory of thy worth?


Oh! there are griefs for nature too intense,

Whose first rude shock but stupifies the soul;

Nor hath the fragile and o’erlabour’d sense

Strength e’en to feel at once their dread control.

But when ’tis past, that still and speechless hour

Of the seal’d bosom and the tearless eye,

Then the roused mind awakes, with tenfold power

To grasp the fulness of its agony!

Its deathlike torpor vanish’d—and its doom,

To cast its own dark hues o’er life and nature’s bloom.


And such his lot whom thou hast loved and left,

Spirit! thus early to thy home recall’d!

So sinks the heart, of hope and thee bereft,

A warrior’s heart, which danger ne’er appall’d.

Years may pass on—and, as they roll along,

Mellow those pangs which now his bosom rend;

And he once more, with life’s unheeding throng,

May, though alone in soul, in seeming blend;

Yet still, the guardian-angel of his mind

Shall thy loved image dwell, in Memory’s temple shrined.


Yet must the days be long ere time shall steal

Aught from his grief whose spirit dwells with thee:

Once deeply bruised, the heart at length may heal,

But all it was—oh! never more shall be.

The flower, the leaf, o’erwhelm’d by winter snow,

Shall spring again, when beams and showers return,

The faded cheek again with health may glow,

And the dim eye with life’s warm radiance burn;

But the pure freshness of the mind’s young bloom,

Once lost, revives alone in worlds beyond the tomb.


But thou! thine hour of agony is o’er,

And thy brief race in brilliance hath been run;

While Faith, that bids fond nature grieve no more,

Tells that thy crown—though not on earth—is won.

Thou, of the world so early left, hast known

Nought but the bloom and sunshine—and for thee,

Child of propitious stars! for thee alone,

The course of love ran smooth[62] and brightly free.

Not long such bliss to mortal could be given:

It is enough for earth to catch one glimpse of heaven.


What though, ere yet the noonday of thy fame

Rose in its glory on thine England’s eye,

The grave’s deep shadows o’er thy prospect came?

Ours is that loss—and thou wert blest to die!

Thou mightst have lived to dark and evil years,

To mourn thy people changed, thy skies o’ercast;

But thy spring morn was all undimm’d by tears,

And thou wert loved and cherish’d to the last!

And thy young name, ne’er breathed in ruder tone,

Thus dying, thou hast left to love and grief alone.


Daughter of Kings! from that high sphere look down

Where still, in hope, affection’s thoughts may rise;

Where dimly shines to thee that mortal crown

Which earth display’d to claim thee from the skies.

Look down! and if thy spirit yet retain

Memory of aught that once was fondly dear,

Soothe, though unseen, the hearts that mourn in vain,

And in their hours of loneliness—be near!

Blest was thy lot e’en here—and one faint sigh,

Oh! tell those hearts, hath made that blest eternity!


“Great patriot hero! ill-requited chief!”

The morn rose bright on scenes renown’d,

Wild Caledonia’s classic ground,

Where the bold sons of other days

Won their high fame in Ossian’s lays,

And fell—but not till Carron’s tide

With Roman blood was darkly dyed.

The morn rose bright—and heard the cry

Sent by exulting hosts on high,

And saw the white-cross banner float

(While rung each clansman’s gathering-note)

O’er the dark plumes and serried spears

Of Scotland’s daring mountaineers;

As, all elate with hope, they stood,

To buy their freedom with their blood.

The sunset shone—to guide the flying,

And beam a farewell to the dying!

The summer moon, on Falkirk’s field,

Streams upon eyes in slumber seal’d;

Deep slumber—not to pass away

When breaks another morning’s ray,

Nor vanish when the trumpet’s voice

Bids ardent hearts again rejoice:

What sunbeam’s glow, what clarion’s breath,

May chase the still cold sleep of death?

Shrouded in Scotland’s blood-stain’d plaid,

Low are her mountain-warriors laid;

They fell, on that proud soil whose mould

Was blent with heroes’ dust of old,

And, guarded by the free and brave,

Yielded the Roman—but a grave!

Nobly they fell; yet with them died

The warrior’s hope, the leader’s pride.

Vainly they fell—that martyr host—

All, save the land’s high soul, is lost.

Blest are the slain! they calmly sleep,

Nor hear their bleeding country weep!

The shouts of England’s triumph telling

Reach not their dark and silent dwelling;

And those surviving to bequeath

Their sons the choice of chains or death,

May give the slumberer’s lowly bier

An envying glance—but not a tear.

But thou, the fearless and the free,

Devoted Knight of Ellerslie!

No vassal-spirit, form’d to bow

When storms are gathering, clouds thy brow;

No shade of fear or weak despair

Blends with indignant sorrow there!

The ray which streams on yon red field,

O’er Scotland’s cloven helm and shield,

Glitters not there alone, to shed

Its cloudless beauty o’er the dead;

But where smooth Carron’s rippling wave

Flows near that deathbed of the brave,

Illuming all the midnight scene,

Sleeps brightly on thy lofty mien.

But other beams, O Patriot! shine

In each commanding glance of thine,

And other fight hath fill’d thine eye

With inspiration’s majesty,

Caught from th’ immortal flame divine

Which makes thine inmost heart a shrine!

Thy voice a prophet’s tone hath won,

The grandeur Freedom lends her son;

Thy bearing a resistless power,

The ruling genius of the hour!

And he, yon Chief, with mien of pride,

Whom Carron’s waves from thee divide,

Whose haughty gesture fain would seek

To veil the thoughts that blanch his cheek,

Feels his reluctant mind controll’d

By thine of more heroic mould:

Though struggling all in vain to war

With that high soul’s ascendant star,

He, with a conqueror’s scornful eye,

Would mock the name of Liberty.

Heard ye the Patriot’s awful voice?—

“Proud Victor! in thy fame rejoice!

Hast thou not seen thy brethren slain,

The harvest of the battle-plain,

And bathed thy sword in blood, whose spot

Eternity shall cancel not?

Rejoice!—with sounds of wild lament

O’er her dark heaths and mountains sent,

With dying moan and dirge’s wail,

Thy ravaged country bids thee hail!

Rejoice!—while yet exulting cries

From England’s conquering host arise,

And strains of choral triumph tell

Her Royal Slave hath fought too well!

Oh, dark the clouds of woe that rest

Brooding o’er Scotland’s mountain-crest!

Her shield is cleft, her banner torn,

O’er martyr’d chiefs her daughters mourn,

And not a breeze but wafts the sound

Of wailing through the land around.

Yet deem not thou, till life depart,

High hope shall leave the patriot’s heart;

Or courage to the storm inured,

Or stern resolve by woes matured,

Oppose, to Fate’s severest hour,

Less than unconquerable power!

No! though the orbs of heaven expire,

Thine, Freedom! is a quenchless fire;

And woe to him whose might would dare

The energies of thy despair!

No!—when thy chain, O Bruce! is cast

O’er thy land’s charter’d mountain-blast,

Then in my yielding soul shall die

The glorious faith of Liberty!”

“Wild hopes! o’er dreamer’s mind that rise!”

With haughty laugh the Conqueror cries,

(Yet his dark cheek is flush’d with shame,

And his eye fill’d with troubled flame;)

“Vain, brief illusions! doom’d to fly

England’s red path of victory!

Is not her sword unmatch’d in might?

Her course a torrent in the fight?

The terror of her name gone forth

Wide o’er the regions of the north?

Far hence, midst other heaths and snows,

Must freedom’s footstep now repose.

And thou—in lofty dreams elate,

Enthusiast! strive no more with Fate!

’Tis vain—the land is lost and won:

Sheathed be the sword—its task is done.

Where are the chiefs that stood with thee

First in the battles of the free?

The firm in heart, in spirit high?—

They sought yon fatal field to die.

Each step of Edward’s conquering host

Hath left a grave on Scotland’s coast.”

“Vassal of England, yes! a grave

Where sleep the faithful and the brave;

And who the glory would resign

Of death like theirs, for life like thine?

They slumber—and the stranger’s tread

May spurn thy country’s noble dead;

Yet, on the land they loved so well,

Still shall their burning spirit dwell,

Their deeds shall hallow minstrel’s theme,

Their image rise on warrior’s dream,

Their names be inspiration’s breath,

Kindling high hope and scorn of death,

Till bursts, immortal from the tomb,

The flame that shall avenge their doom!

This is no land for chains—away!

O’er softer climes let tyrants sway.

Think’st thou the mountain and the storm

Their hardy sons for bondage form?

Doth our stern wintry blast instil

Submission to a despot’s will?

No! we were cast in other mould

Than theirs by lawless power controll’d;

The nurture of our bitter sky

Calls forth resisting energy;

And the wild fastnesses are ours,

The rocks with their eternal towers.

The soul to struggle and to dare

Is mingled with our northern air,

And dust beneath our soil is lying

Of those who died for fame undying.

“Tread’st thou that soil! and can it be

No loftier thought is roused in thee?

Doth no high feeling proudly start

From slumber in thine inmost heart?

No secret voice thy bosom thrill,

For thine own Scotland pleading still?

Oh! wake thee yet—indignant, claim

A nobler fate, a purer fame,

And cast to earth thy fetters riven,

And take thine offer’d crown from heaven.

Wake! in that high majestic lot

May the dark past be all forgot;

And Scotland shall forgive the field

Where with her blood thy shame was seal’d.

E’en I—though on that fatal plain

Lies my heart’s brother with the slain;

Though, reft of his heroic worth,

My spirit dwells alone on earth;

And when all other grief is past,

Must this be cherish’d to the last—

Will lead thy battles, guard thy throne,

With faith unspotted as his own;

Nor in thy noon of fame recall

Whose was the guilt that wrought his fall.”

Still dost thou hear in stern disdain?

Are Freedom’s warning accents vain?

No! royal Bruce! within thy breast

Wakes each high thought, too long suppress’d.

And thy heart’s noblest feelings live,

Blent in that suppliant word—“Forgive!”

“Forgive the wrongs to Scotland done!

Wallace! thy fairest palm is won;

And, kindling at my country’s shrine,

My soul hath caught a spark from thine.

Oh! deem not, in the proudest hour

Of triumph and exulting power—

Deem not the light of peace could find

A home within my troubled mind.

Conflicts by mortal eye unseen,

Dark, silent, secret, there have been,

Known but to Him whose glance can trace

Thought to its deepest dwelling-place!

—’Tis past—and on my native shore

I tread, a rebel son no more.

Too blest, if yet my lot may be

In glory’s path to follow thee;

If tears, by late repentance pour’d,

May lave the blood-stains from my sword!”

Far other tears, O Wallace! rise

From the heart’s fountain to thine eyes;

Bright, holy, and uncheck’d they spring,

While thy voice falters, “Hail! my King!

Be every wrong, by memory traced,

In this full tide of joy effaced:

Hail! and rejoice!—thy race shall claim

A heritage of deathless fame,

And Scotland shall arise at length

Majestic in triumphant strength,

An eagle of the rock, that won

A way through tempests to the sun.

Nor scorn the visions, wildly grand,

The prophet-spirit of thy land:

By torrent-wave, in desert vast,

Those visions o’er my thought have pass’d;

Where mountain vapours darkly roll,

That spirit hath possess’d my soul;

And shadowy forms have met mine eye.

The beings of futurity;

And a deep voice of years to be

Hath told that Scotland shall be free!

He comes! exult, thou Sire of Kings!

From thee the chief, th’ avenger springs!

Far o’er the land he comes to save,

His banners in their glory wave,

And Albyn’s thousand harps awake

On hill and heath, by stream and lake,

To swell the strains that far around

Bid the proud name of Bruce resound!

And I—but wherefore now recall

The whisper’d omens of my fall?

They come not in mysterious gloom—

There is no bondage in the tomb!

O’er the soul’s world no tyrant reigns,

And earth alone for man hath chains!

What though I perish ere the hour

When Scotland’s vengeance wakes in power?

If shed for her, my blood shall stain

The field or scaffold not in vain:

Its voice to efforts more sublime

Shall rouse the spirit of her clime;

And in the noontide of her lot,

My country shall forget me not!”


Art thou forgot? and hath thy worth

Without its glory pass’d from earth?

Rest with the brave, whose names belong

To the high sanctity of song!

Charter’d our reverence to control,

And traced in sunbeams on the soul,

Thine, Wallace! while the heart hath still

One pulse a generous thought can thrill—

While youth’s warm tears are yet the meed

Of martyr’s death or hero’s deed,

Shall brightly live from age to age,

Thy country’s proudest heritage!

Midst her green vales thy fame is dwelling,

Thy deeds her mountain winds are telling,

Thy memory speaks in torrent-wave,

Thy step hath hallow’d rock and cave,

And cold the wanderer’s heart must be

That holds no converse there with thee!

Yet, Scotland! to thy champion’s shade

Still are thy grateful rites delay’d;

From lands of old renown, o’erspread

With proud memorials of the dead,

The trophied urn, the breathing bust,

The pillar guarding noble dust,

The shrine where art and genius high

Have labour’d for eternity—

The stranger comes: his eye explores

The wilds of thy majestic shores,

Yet vainly seeks one votive stone

Raised to the hero all thine own.

Land of bright deeds and minstrel-lore!

Withhold that guerdon now no more.

On some bold height of awful form,

Stern eyrie of the cloud and storm,

Sublimely mingling with the skies,

Bid the proud Cenotaph arise:

Not to record the name that thrills

Thy soul, the watchword of thy hills;

Not to assert, with needless claim,

The bright for ever of its fame;

But, in the ages yet untold,

When ours shall be the days of old,

To rouse high hearts, and speak thy pride

In him, for thee who lived and died.



Beings of brighter worlds! that rise at times
As phantoms with ideal beauty fraught,
In those brief visions of celestial climes
Which pass like sunbeams o'er the realms of thought,
Dwell ye around us?—are ye hovering nigh,
Throned on the cloud, or buoyant in the air?
And in deep solitudes, where human eye
Can trace no step, Immortals! are ye there?
Oh! who can tell?—what power, but Death alone,
Can lift the mystic veil that shades the world unknown!

But Earth hath seen the days, ere yet the flowers
Of Eden wither'd, when reveal'd ye shone
In all your brightness midst those holy bowers—
Holy, but not unfading, as your own!
While He, the child of that primeval soil,
With you its paths in high communion trode,
His glory yet undimm'd by guilt or toil,
And beaming in the image of his God,
And his pure spirit glowing from the sky,
Exulting in its light, a spark of Deity.

Then, haply, mortal and celestial lays,
Mingling their tones, from nature's temple rose,
When nought but that majestic song of praise
Broke on the sanctity of night's repose,
With music since unheard: and man might trace
By stream and vale, in deep embow'ring shade,
Devotion's first and loveliest dwelling-place,
The footsteps of th' Omnipotent, who made
That spot a shrine, where youthful nature cast
Her consecrated wealth, rejoicing as He pass'd.

Short were those days, and soon, O sons of Heaven!
Tour aspect changed for man. In that dread hour,
When from his paradise the alien driven
Beheld your forms in angry splendour tower,
Guarding the clime where he no more might dwell
With meteor-swords: he saw the living flame,
And his first cry of misery was—"Farewell!"
His heart's first anguish, exile: he became
A pilgrim on the earth, whose children's lot
Is still for happier lands to pine—and reach them not.

Where now the chosen bowers that once beheld
Delight and Love their first bright sabbath keep?
From all its founts the world of waters swell'd,
And wrapt them in the mantle of the deep!
For He, to whom the elements are slaves,
In wrath unchain'd the oceans of the cloud,
And heaved the abyss beneath, till waves on waves
Folded creation in their mighty shroud;
Then left the earth a solitude, o'erspread
With its own awful wrecks—a desert of the dead

But onward flow'd life's busy course again,
And rolling ages with them bore away—
As to be lost amidst the boundless main,
Rich orient streams their golden sands convey—
The hallow'd lore of old—the guiding light
Left by tradition to the sons of earth,
And the blest memory of each sacred rite
Known in the region of their father's birth,
When in each breeze around his fair abode
Whisper'd a seraph's voice, or lived the breath of God.

Who hath not seen, what time the orb of day,
Cinctured with glory, seeks the ocean's breast,
A thousand clouds all glowing in his ray,
Catching brief splendour from the purple west?
So round thy parting steps, fair Truth! awhile
With borrow'd hues unnumber'd phantoms shone;
And Superstition, from thy lingering smile,
Caught a faint glow of beauty not her own,
Blending her rites with thine—while yet afar
Thine eye's last radiance beam'd, a slow-receding star.

Yet still one stream was pure—one sever'd shrine
Was fed with holier fire, by chosen hands;
And sounds, and dreams, and impulses divine,
Were in the dwellings of the patriarch bands.
There still the father to his child bequeath'd
The sacred torch of never-dying flame;
There still Devotion's suppliant accents breathed
The One adored and everlasting Name;
And angel guests would linger and repose
Where those primeval tents amid their palm-trees rose.

But far o'er earth the apostate wanderers bore
Their alien rites. For them, by fount or shade,
Nor voice, nor vision, holy as of yore,
In thrilling whispers to the soul convey'd
High inspiration: yet in every clime,
Those sons of doubt and error fondly sought
With beings, in their essence more sublime,
To hold communion of mysterious thought;
On some dread power in trembling hope to lean,
And hear in every wind the accents of th' Unseen.

Yes! we have need to bid our hopes repose
On some protecting influence: here confined,
Life hath no healing balm for mortal woes,
Earth is too narrow for th' immortal mind.
Our spirits burn to mingle with the day,
As exiles panting for their native coast,
Yet lured by every wild-flower from their way,
And shrinking from the gulf that must be cross'd.
Death hovers round us: in the zephyr's sigh.
As in the storm, he comes—and lo! Eternity!

As one left lonely on the desert sands
Of burning Afric, where, without a guide,
He gazes as the pathless waste expands—
Around, beyond, interminably wide;
While the red haze, presaging the Simoom,
Obscures the fierce resplendence of the sky,
Or suns of blasting light perchance illume
The glistening Serab[1] which illudes his eye:
Such was the wanderer Man, in ages flown,
Kneeling in doubt and fear before the dread Unknown.

His thoughts explored the past—and where were they,
The chiefs of men, the mighty ones gone by?
He turn'd—a boundless void before him lay,
Wrapp'd in the shadows of futurity.
How knew the child of Nature that the flame
He felt within him struggling to ascend,
Should perish not with that terrestrial frame
Doom'd with the earth on which it moved, to blend?
How, when affliction bade his spirit bleed,
If 'twere a Father's love or Tyrant's wrath decreed?

Oh! marvel not if then he sought to trace
In all sublimities of sight and sound,
In rushing winds that wander through all space,
Or midst deep woods, with holy gloom embrown'd,
The oracles of Fate! or if the train
Of floating forms that throng the world of sleep,
And sounds that vibrate on the slumberer's brain,
When mortal voices rest in stillness deep,
Were deem'd mysterious revelations, sent
From viewless powers, the lords of each dread element.

Was not wild Nature, in that elder-time,
Clothed with a deeper power?—earth’s wandering race,
Exploring realms of solitude sublime,
Not as we see, beheld her awful face!
Art had not tamed the mighty scenes which met
Their searching eyes; unpeopled kingdoms lay
In savage pomp before them—all was yet
Silent and vast, but not as in decay;
And the bright daystar, from his burning throne,
Look'd o'er a thousand shores, untrodden, voiceless, lone.

The forests in their dark luxuriance waved,
With all their swell of strange Æolian sound;
The fearful deep, sole region ne'er enslaved,
Heaved, in its pomp of terror, darkly round.
Then, brooding o'er the images, imprest
By forms of grandeur thronging on his eye,
And faint traditions, guarded in his breast,
Midst dim remembrances of infancy,
Man shaped unearthly presences, in dreams,
Peopling each wilder haunt of mountains, groves, and streams.

Then bled the victim—then in every shade
Of rock or turf arose the votive shrine;
Fear bow'd before the phantoms she portray'd,
And Nature teem'd with many a mystic sign.
Meteors, and storms, and thunders! ye whose course
E'en yet is awful to th' enlighten'd eye,
As, wildly rushing from your secret source,
Your sounding chariot sweeps the realms on high,
Then o'er the earth prophetic gloom ye cast,
And the wide nations gazed, and trembled as ye pass'd.

But you, ye stars! in distant glory burning.
Nurtured with flame, bright altars of the sky!
To whose far climes the spirit, vainly turning,
Would pierce the secrets of infinity—
To you the heart, bereft of other light,
Its first deep homage paid, on Eastern plains,
Where Day hath terrors, but majestic Night,
Calm in her pomp, magnificently reigns,
Cloudless and silent, circled with the race
Of some unnumber'd orbs, that light the depths of space.

Shine on! and brightly plead for erring thought,
Whose wing, unaided in its course, explored
The wide creation, and beholding nought
Like your eternal beauty, then adored
Its living splendours; deeming them inform'd
By natures temper'd with a holier fire—
Pure beings, with ethereal effluence warm'd,
Who to the source of spirit might aspire,
And mortal prayers benignantly convey
To some presiding Power, more awful far than they.

Guides o'er the desert and the deep! to you
The seaman turn'd, rejoicing at the helm,
When from the regions of empyreal blue
Ye pour'd soft radiance o'er the ocean-realm;
To you the dweller of the plains address'd
Vain prayers, that call'd the clouds and dews your own;
To you the shepherd, on the mountain's crest,
Kindled the fires that far through midnight shone,
As earth would light up all her hills, to vie
With your immortal host, and image back the sky.

Hail to the queen of heaven! her silvery crown
Serenely wearing, o'er her high domain

She walks in brightness, looking cloudless down,
As if to smile on her terrestrial reign.
Earth should be hush'd in slumber—but the night
Calls forth her worshippers; the feast is spread,
On hoary Lebanon's umbrageous height
The shrine is raised, the rich libation shed
To her, whose beams illume those cedar-shades
Faintly as Nature's light the 'wilder'd soul pervades.

But when thine orb, all earth's rich hues restoring,
Came forth, O sun! in majesty supreme,
Still, from thy pure exhaustless fountain, pouring
Beauty and life in each triumphant beam,
Through thine own East what joyous rites prevail'd!
What choral songs re-echo’d! while thy fire
Shone o'er its thousand altars, and exhaled
The precious incense of each odorous pyre,
Heap'd with the richest balms of spicy vales,
And aromatic woods that scent the Arabian gales.

Yet not with Saba's fragrant wealth alone,
Balsam and myrrh, the votive pile was strew'd;
For the dark children of the burning zone
Drew frenzy from thy fervours, and bedew'd
With their own blood thy shrine; while that wild scene,
Haply with pitying eye, thine angel view'd,
And though with glory mantled, and severe
In his own fulness of beatitude,
Yet mourn'd for those whose spirits from thy ray
Caught not one transient spark of intellectual day.

But earth had deeper stains. Ethereal powers!
Benignant seraphs! wont to leave the skies,
And hold high converse, midst his native bowers,
With the once glorious son of Paradise,
Look'd ye from heaven in sadness? were your strains
Of choral praise suspended in dismay.
When the polluted shrine of Syria's plains
With clouds of incense dimm'd the blaze of day?
Or did ye veil indignantly your eyes.
While demons hail'd the pomp of human sacrifice?

And well the powers of evil might rejoice,
When rose from Tophet's vale the exulting cry,
And, deaf to Nature's supplicating voice,
The frantic mother bore her child to die!
Around her vainly clung his feeble hands
With sacred instinct: love hath lost its sway,
While ruthless zeal the sacrifice demands,
And the fires blaze, impatient for their prey.

Let not his shrieks reveal the dreadful tale!
Well may the drum's loud peal o'erpower an infant's wail!

A voice of sorrow! not from thence it rose;
'Twas not the childless mother. Syrian maids,
Where with red wave the mountain streamlet flows,
Keep tearful vigil in their native shades.
With dirge and plaint the cedar-groves resound,
Each rock's deep echo for Adonis mourns:
Weep for the dead! Away! the lost is found—
To life and love the buried god returns!
Then wakes the timbrel—then the forests ring,
And shouts of frenzied joy are on each breeze's wing!

But fill'd with holier joy the Persian stood,
In silent reverence, on the mountain's brow,
At early dayspring, while the expanding flood
Of radiance burst around, above, below—
Bright, boundless as eternity: he gazed
Till his full soul, imbibing heaven, o'erflow'd
In worship of th' Invisible, and praised
In thee, O Sun! the symbol and abode
Of life, and power, and excellence—the throne
Where dwelt the Unapproach'd, resplendently alone.

What if his thoughts, with erring fondness, gave
Mysterious sanctity to things which wear
Th' Eternal's impress?—if the living wave,
The circling heavens, the free and boundless air—
If the pure founts of everlasting flame,
Deep in his country's hallow'd vales enshrined,
And the bright stars maintain'd a silent claim
To love and homage from his awestruck mind?
Still with his spirit dwelt a lofty dream
Of uncreated Power, far, far o'er these supreme.

And with that faith was conquest He whose name
To Judah's harp of prophecy had rung—
He, of whose yet unborn and distant fame
The mighty voice of Inspiration sung,
He came, the victor Cyrus! As he pass'd,
Thrones to his footstep rock'd, and monarchs lay
Suppliant and clothed with dust; while nations cast
Their ancient idols down before his way,
Who in majestic march, from shore to shore,
The quenchless flame revered by Persia's children bore.



“Come, bright Improvement! on the car of Time,

And rule the spacious world from clime to clime.

Thy handmaid, Art, shall every wild explore,

Trace every wave, and culture every shore.” Campbell.

“May ne’er

That true succession fail of English hearts,

That can perceive, not less than heretofore

Our ancestors did feelingly perceive,

... the charm

Of pious sentiment, diffused afar,

And human charity, and social love.” Wordsworth.

Amidst the peopled and the regal isle,

Whose vales, rejoicing in their beauty, smile;

Whose cities, fearless of the spoiler, tower,

And send on every breeze a voice of power;

Hath Desolation rear’d herself a throne,

And mark’d a pathless region for her own?

Yes! though thy turf no stain of carnage wore

When bled the noble hearts of many a shore;

Though not a hostile step thy heath-flowers bent

When empires totter’d, and the earth was rent;

Yet lone, as if some trampler of mankind

Had still’d life’s busy murmurs on the wind,

And, flush’d with power in daring pride’s excess,

Stamp’d on thy soil the curse of barrenness;

For thee in vain descend the dews of heaven,

In vain the sunbeam and the shower are given,

Wild Dartmoor! thou that, midst thy mountains rude,

Hast robed thyself with haughty solitude,

As a dark cloud on summer’s clear blue sky,

A mourner, circled with festivity!

For all beyond is life!—the rolling sea,

The rush, the swell, whose echoes reach not thee.

Yet who shall find a scene so wild and bare

But man has left his lingering traces there?

E’en on mysterious Afric’s boundless plains,

Where noon with attributes of midnight reigns,

In gloom and silence fearfully profound,

As of a world unwaked to soul or sound.

Though the sad wanderer of the burning zone

Feels, as amidst infinity, alone,

And naught of life be near, his camel’s tread

Is o’er the prostrate cities of the dead!

Some column, rear’d by long-forgotten hands,

Just lifts its head above the billowy sands—

Some mouldering shrine still consecrates the scene,

And tells that glory’s footstep there hath been.

There hath the spirit of the mighty pass’d,

Not without record; though the desert blast,

Borne on the wings of Time, hath swept away

The proud creations rear’d to brave decay.

But thou, lone region! whose unnoticed name

No lofty deeds have mingled with their fame,

Who shall unfold thine annals?—who shall tell

If on thy soil the sons of heroes fell,

In those far ages which have left no trace,

No sunbeam, on the pathway of their race?

Though, haply, in the unrecorded days

Of kings and chiefs who pass’d without their praise,

Thou mightst have rear’d the valiant and the free,

In history’s page there is no tale of thee.

Yet hast thou thy memorials. On the wild,

Still rise the cairns, of yore all rudely piled,

But hallow’d by that instinct which reveres

Things fraught with characters of elder years.

And such are these. Long centuries are flown,

Bow’d many a crest, and shatter’d many a throne,

Mingling the urn, the trophy, and the bust,

With what they hide—their shrined and treasured dust.

Men traverse Alps and oceans, to behold

Earth’s glorious works fast mingling with her mould;

But still these nameless chronicles of death,

Midst the deep silence of the unpeopled heath,

Stand in primeval artlessness, and wear

The same sepulchral mien, and almost share

Th’ eternity of nature, with the forms

Of the crown’d hills beyond, the dwellings of the storms.

Yet what avails it if each moss-grown heap

Still on the waste its lonely vigils keep,

Guarding the dust which slumbers well beneath

(Nor needs such care) from each cold season’s breath?

Where is the voice to tell their tale who rest,

Thus rudely pillow’d, on the desert’s breast?

Doth the sword sleep beside them? Hath there been

A sound of battle midst the silent scene

Where now the flocks repose?—did the scythed car

Here reap its harvest in the ranks of war?

And rise these piles in memory of the slain,

And the red combat of the mountain-plain?

It may be thus:—the vestiges of strife,

Around yet lingering, mark the steps of life,

And the rude arrow’s barb remains to tell

How by its stroke, perchance, the mighty fell

To be forgotten. Vain the warrior’s pride,

The chieftain’s power—they had no bard, and died.

But other scenes, from their untroubled sphere,

The eternal stars of night have witness’d here.

There stands an altar of unsculptured stone,

Far on the moor, a thing of ages gone,

Propp’d on its granite pillars, whence the rains

And pure bright dews have laved the crimson stains

Left by dark rites of blood: for here, of yore,

When the bleak waste a robe of forest wore,

And many a crested oak, which now lies low,

Waved its wild wreath of sacred mistletoe—

Here, at dim midnight, through the haunted shade,

On druid-harps the quivering moonbeam play’d,

And spells were breathed, that fill’d the deepening gloom

With the pale, shadowy people of the tomb.

Or, haply, torches waving through the night

Bade the red cairn-fires blaze from every height,

Like battle-signals, whose unearthly gleams

Threw o’er the desert’s hundred hills and streams,

A savage grandeur; while the starry skies

Rang with the peal of mystic harmonies,

As the loud harp its deep-toned hymns sent forth

To the storm-ruling powers, the war-gods of the North.

But wilder sounds were there: th’ imploring cry

That woke the forest’s echo in reply,

But not the heart’s! Unmoved the wizard train

Stood round their human victim, and in vain

His prayer for mercy rose; in vain his glance

Look’d up, appealing to the blue expanse,

Where in their calm immortal beauty shone

Heaven’s cloudless orbs. With faint and fainter moan,

Bound on the shrine of sacrifice he lay,

Till, drop by drop, life’s current ebb’d away;

Till rock and turf grew deeply, darkly red,

And the pale moon gleam’d paler on the dead.

Have such things been, and here?—where stillness dwells

Midst the rude barrows and the moorland swells,

Thus undisturb’d? Oh! long the gulf of time

Hath closed in darkness o’er those days of crime,

And earth no vestige of their path retains,

Save such as these, which strew her loneliest plains

With records of man’s conflicts and his doom,

His spirit and his dust—the altar and the tomb.

But ages roll’d away: and England stood

With her proud banner streaming o’er the flood;

And with a lofty calmness in her eye,

And regal in collected majesty,

To breast the storm of battle. Every breeze

Bore sounds of triumph o’er her own blue seas;

And other lands, redeem’d and joyous, drank

The life-blood of her heroes, as they sank

On the red fields they won; whose wild flowers wave

Now in luxuriant beauty o’er their grave.

’Twas then the captives of Britannia’s war

Here for their lovely southern climes afar

In bondage pined; the spell-deluded throng

Dragg’d at ambition’s chariot-wheels so long

To die—because a despot could not clasp

A sceptre fitted to his boundless grasp!

Yes! they whose march had rock’d the ancient thrones

And temples of the world—the deepening tones

Of whose advancing trumpet from repose

Had startled nations, wakening to their woes—

Were prisoners here. And there were some whose dreams

Were of sweet homes, by chainless mountain-streams,

And of the vine-clad hills, and many a strain

And festal melody of Loire or Seine;

And of those mothers who had watch’d and wept,

When on the field the unshelter’d conscript slept,

Bathed with the midnight dews. And some were there

Of sterner spirits, harden’d by despair;

Who, in their dark imaginings, again

Fired the rich palace and the stately fane,

Drank in their victim’s shriek, as music’s breath,

And lived o’er scenes, the festivals of death!

And there was mirth, too!—strange and savage mirth,

More fearful far than all the woes of earth!

The laughter of cold hearts, and scoffs that spring

From minds for which there is no sacred thing;

And transient bursts of fierce, exulting glee—

The lightning’s flash upon its blasted tree!

But still, howe’er the soul’s disguise were worn,

If from wild revelry, or haughty scorn,

Or buoyant hope, it won an outward show,

Slight was the mask, and all beneath it—woe.

Yet, was this all? Amidst the dungeon-gloom,

The void, the stillness of the captive’s doom,

Were there no deeper thoughts? And that dark power

To whom guilt owes one late but dreadful hour,

The mighty debt through years of crime delay’d,

But, as the grave’s, inevitably paid;

Came he not thither, in his burning force,

The lord, the tamer of dark souls—Remorse?

Yes! as the night calls forth from sea and sky,

From breeze and wood, a solemn harmony,

Lost when the swift triumphant wheels of day

In light and sound are hurrying on their way:

Thus, from the deep recesses of the heart,

The voice which sleeps, but never dies, might start,

Call’d up by solitude, each nerve to thrill

With accents heard not, save when all is still!

The voice, inaudible when havoc’s strain

Crush’d the red vintage of devoted Spain;

Mute, when sierras to the war-whoop rung,

And the broad light of conflagration sprung

From the south’s marble cities; hush’d midst cries

That told the heavens of mortal agonies;

But gathering silent strength, to wake at last

In concentrated thunders of the past!

And there, perchance, some long-bewilder’d mind,

Torn from its lowly sphere, its path confined

Of village duties, in the Alpine glen,

Where nature cast its lot midst peasant men;

Drawn to that vortex, whose fierce ruler blent

The earthquake power of each wild element,

To lend the tide which bore his throne on high

One impulse more of desperate energy;

Might—when the billow’s awful rush was o’er

Which toss’d its wreck upon the storm-beat shore,

Won from its wanderings past, by suffering tried,

Search’d by remorse, by anguish purified—

Have fix’d, at length, its troubled hopes and fears

On the far world, seen brightest through our tears;

And, in that hour of triumph or despair,

Whose secrets all must learn—but none declare,

When, of the things to come, a deeper sense

Fills the dim eye of trembling penitence,

Have turn’d to Him whose bow is in the cloud,

Around life’s limits gathering as a shroud—

The fearful mysteries of the heart who knows,

And, by the tempest, calls it to repose!

Who visited that deathbed? Who can tell

Its brief sad tale, on which the soul might dwell,

And learn immortal lessons? Who beheld

The struggling hope, by shame, by doubt repell’d—

The agony of prayer—the bursting tears—

The dark remembrances of guilty years,

Crowding upon the spirit in their might?

He, through the storm who look’d, and there was light!

That scene is closed!—that wild, tumultuous breast,

With all its pangs and passions, is at rest!

He, too, is fallen, the master-power of strife,

Who woke those passions to delirious life;

And days, prepared a brighter course to run,

Unfold their buoyant pinions to the sun!

It is a glorious hour when Spring goes forth

O’er the bleak mountains of the shadowy north,

And with one radiant glance, one magic breath,

Wakes all things lovely from the sleep of death;

While the glad voices of a thousand streams,

Bursting their bondage, triumph in her beams!

But Peace hath nobler changes! O’er the mind,

The warm and living spirit of mankind,

Her influence breathes, and bids the blighted heart,

To life and hope from desolation start!

She with a look dissolves the captive’s chain,

Peopling with beauty widow’d homes again;

Around the mother, in her closing years,

Gathering her sons once more, and from the tears

Of the dim past but winning purer light,

To make the present more serenely bright.

Nor rests that influence here. From clime to clime,

In silence gliding with the stream of time,

Still doth it spread, borne onwards, as a breeze

With healing on its wings, o’er isles and seas.

And as Heaven’s breath call’d forth, with genial power,

From the dry wand the almond’s living flower,

So doth its deep-felt charm in secret move

The coldest heart to gentle deeds of love;

While round its pathway nature softly glows,

And the wide desert blossoms as the rose.

Yes! let the waste lift up the exulting voice!

Let the far-echoing solitude rejoice!

And thou, lone moor! where no blithe reaper’s song

E’er lightly sped the summer hours along,

Bid thy wild rivers, from each mountain-source

Rushing in joy, make music on their course!

Thou, whose sole records of existence mark

The scene of barbarous rites in ages dark,

And of some nameless combat; hope’s bright eye

Beams o’er thee in the light of prophecy!

Yet shalt thou smile, by busy culture drest,

And the rich harvest wave upon thy breast!

Yet shall thy cottage smoke, at dewy morn,

Rise in blue wreaths above the flowering thorn,

And, midst thy hamlet shades, the embosom’d spire

Catch from deep-kindling heavens their earliest fire.

Thee, too, that hour shall bless, the balmy close

Of labour’s day, the herald of repose,

Which gathers hearts in peace; while social mirth

Basks in the blaze of each free village hearth;

While peasant-songs are on the joyous gales,

And merry England’s voice floats up from all her vales.

Yet are there sweeter sounds; and thou shalt hear

Such as to Heaven’s immortal host are dear.

Oh! if there still be melody on earth

Worthy the sacred bowers where man drew birth,

When angel-steps their paths rejoicing trode,

And the air trembled with the breath of God;

It lives in those soft accents, to the sky

Borne from the lips of stainless infancy,

When holy strains, from life’s pure fount which sprung,

Breathed with deep reverence, falter on his tongue.

And such shall be thy music, when the cells,

Where Guilt, the child of hopeless Misery, dwells,

(And, to wild strength by desperation wrought,

In silence broods o’er many a fearful thought,)

Resound to pity’s voice; and childhood thence,

Ere the cold blight hath reach’d its innocence,

Ere that soft rose-bloom of the soul be fled,

Which vice but breathes on and its hues are dead,

Shall at the call press forward, to be made

A glorious offering, meet for Him who said,

“Mercy, not sacrifice!” and, when of old

Clouds of rich incense from his altars roll’d,

Dispersed the smoke of perfumes, and laid bare

The heart’s deep folds, to read its homage there!

When some crown’d conqueror, o’er a trampled world

His banner, shadowing nations, hath unfurl’d,

And, like those visitations which deform

Nature for centuries, hath made the storm

His pathway to dominion’s lonely sphere,

Silence behind—before him, flight and fear!

When kingdoms rock beneath his rushing wheels,

Till each fair isle the mighty impulse feels,

And earth is moulded but by one proud will,

And sceptred realms wear fetters, and are still;

Shall the free soul of song bow down to pay,

The earthquake homage on its baleful way?

Shall the glad harp send up exulting strains

O’er burning cities and forsaken plains?

And shall no harmony of softer close

Attend the stream of mercy as it flows,

And, mingling with the murmur of its wave,

Bless the green shores its gentle currents lave?

Oh! there are loftier themes, for him whose eyes

Have search’d the depths of life’s realities,

Than the red battle, or the trophied car,

Wheeling the monarch-victor fast and far;

There are more noble strains than those which swell

The triumphs ruin may suffice to tell!

Ye prophet-bards, who sat in elder days

Beneath the palms of Judah! ye whose lays

With torrent rapture, from their source on high,

Burst in the strength of immortality!

Oh! not alone, those haunted groves among,

Of conquering hosts, of empires crush’d, ye sung,

But of that spirit destined to explore,

With the bright day-spring, every distant shore,

To dry the tear, to bind the broken reed,

To make the home of peace in hearts that bleed;

With beams of hope to pierce the dungeon’s gloom.

And pour eternal starlight o’er the tomb.

And bless’d and hallow’d be its haunts! for there

Hath man’s high soul been rescued from despair!

There hath th’ immortal spark for heaven been nursed;

There from the rock the springs of life have burst

Quenchless and pure! and holy thoughts, that rise

Warm from the source of human sympathies—

Where’er its path of radiance may be traced,

Shall find their temple in the silent waste.


“Oh! bless’d are they who live and die like ‘him,’

Loved with such love, and with such sorrow mourn’d!”


Banners hung drooping from on high

In a dim cathedral’s nave,

Making a gorgeous canopy

O’er a noble, noble grave!

And a marble warrior’s form beneath,

With helm and crest array’d,

As on his battle-bed of death,

Lay in their crimson shade.

Triumph yet linger’d in his eye,

Ere by the dark night seal’d;

And his head was pillow’d haughtily

On standard and on shield.

And shadowing that proud trophy-pile,

With the glory of his wing,

An eagle sat—yet seem’d the while

Panting through heaven to spring.

He sat upon a shiver’d lance,

There by the sculptor bound;

But in the light of his lifted glance

Was that which scorn’d the ground.

And a burning flood of gem-like hues,

From a storied window pour’d,

There fell, there centred, to suffuse

The conqueror and his sword.

A flood of hues—but one rich dye

O’er all supremely spread,

With a purple robe of royalty

Mantling the mighty dead.

Meet was that robe for him whose name

Was a trumpet-note in war,

His pathway still the march of fame,

His eye the battle-star.

But faintly, tenderly was thrown,

From the colour’d light, one ray,

Where a low and pale memorial-stone

By the couch of glory lay.

Few were the fond words chisell’d there,

Mourning for parted worth;

But the very heart of love and prayer

Had given their sweetness forth.

They spoke of one whose life had been

As a hidden streamlet’s course,

Bearing on health and joy unseen

From its clear mountain-source:

Whose young, pure memory, lying deep

Midst rock, and wood, and hill,

Dwelt in the homes where poor men sleep,

A soft light, meek and still:

Whose gentle voice, too early call’d

Unto Music’s land away,

Had won for God the earth’s, enthrall’d

By words of silvery sway.

These were his victories—yet, enroll’d

In no high song of fame,

The pastor of the mountain-fold

Left but to heaven his name.

To heaven, and to the peasant’s hearth,

A blessed household-sound;

And finding lowly love on earth,

Enough, enough, he found!

Bright and more bright before me gleam’d

That sainted image still,

Till one sweet moonlight memory seem’d

The regal fane to fill.

Oh! how my silent spirit turn’d

From those proud trophies nigh!

How my full heart within me burn’d

Like Him to live and die!


A child beside a hamlet’s fount at play,

Her fair face laughing at the sunny day;

A gush of waters tremulously bright,

Kindling the air to gladness with their light;

And a soft gloom beyond of summer trees,

Darkening the turf; and, shadow’d o’er by these,

A low, dim, woodland cottage—this was all!

What had the scene for memory to recall

With a fond look of love? What secret spell

With the heart’s pictures made its image dwell?

What but the spirit of the joyous child,

That freshly forth o’er stream and verdure smiled,

Casting upon the common things of earth

A brightness, born and gone with infant mirth!


I look’d on the field where the battle was spread,

When thousands stood forth in their glancing array;

And the beam from the steel of the valiant was shed

Through the dun-rolling clouds that o’ershadow’d the fray.

I saw the dark forest of lances appear,

As the ears of the harvest unnumber’d they stood;

I heard the stern shout as the foemen drew near,

Like the storm that lays low the proud pines of the wood.

Afar the harsh notes of the war-drum were roll’d,

Uprousing the wolf from the depth of his lair;

On high to the gust stream’d the banner’s red fold,

O’er the death-close of hate, and the scowl of despair.

I look’d on the field of contention again,

When the sabre was sheath’d and the tempest had past;

The wild weed and thistle grew rank on the plain,

And the fem softly sigh’d in the low, wailing blast.

Unmoved lay the lake in its hour of repose,

And bright shone the stars through the sky’s deepen’d blue;

And sweetly the song of the night-bird arose,

Where the fox-glove lay gemm’d with its pearl-drops of dew.

But where swept the ranks of that dark, frowning host,

As the ocean in might, as the storm-cloud in speed?

Where now are the thunders of victory’s boast—

The slayer’s dread wrath, and the strength of the steed?

To mark the lone scene of their shame or their pride;

One grass-cover’d mound told the traveller alone

Where thousands lay down in their anguish, and died!

O Glory! behold thy famed guerdon’s extent:

For this, toil thy slaves through their earth-wasting lot—

A name like the mist, when the night-beams are spent;

A grave with its tenants unwept and forgot!


“Can guilt or misery ever enter here?

Ah, no! the spirit of domestic peace,

Though calm and gentle as the brooding dove,

And ever murmuring forth a quiet song,

Guards, powerful as the sword of cherubim,

The hallow’d porch. She hath a heavenly smile,

That sinks into the sullen soul of Vice,

And wins him o’er to virtue.”—Wilson.

My father’s house once more,

In its own moonlight beauty! Yet around,

Something, amidst the dewy calm profound,

Broods, never mark’d before!

Is it the brooding night?

Is it the shivery creeping on the air,

That makes the home so tranquil and so fair,

O’erwhelming to my sight?

All solemnised it seems,

And still’d, and darken’d in each time-worn hue,

Since the rich, clustering roses met my view,

As now, by starry gleams.

And this high elm, where last

I stood and linger’d—where my sisters made

Our mother’s bower—I deem’d not that it cast

So far and dark a shade!

How spirit-like a tone

Sighs through yon tree! My father’s place was there

At evening hours, while soft winds waved his hair!

Now those gray locks are gone!

My soul grows faint with fear!

Even as if angel-steps had mark’d the sod.

I tremble where I move—the voice of God

Is in the foliage here!

Is it indeed the night

That makes my home so awful? Faithless-hearted!

’Tis that from thine own bosom hath departed

The inborn, gladdening light!

No outward thing is changed;

Only the joy of purity is fled,

And, long from nature’s melodies estranged,

Thou hear’st their tones with dread.

Therefore the calm abode,

By thy dark spirit, is o’erhung with shade;

And therefore, in the leaves, the voice of God

Makes thy sick heart afraid!

The night-flowers round that door

Still breathe pure fragrance on the untainted air;

Thou, thou alone art worthy now no more

To pass, and rest thee there.

And must I turn away?—

Hark, hark!—it is my mother’s voice I hear—

Sadder than once it seem’d—yet soft and clear;—

Doth she not seem to pray?

My name!—I caught the sound!

Oh! blessed tone of love—the deep, the mild!

Mother! my mother! now receive thy child:

Take back the lost and found!


“We receive but what we give,

And in our life alone does nature live;

Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud;

And, would we aught behold of higher worth

Than that inanimate, cold world allow’d

To the poor, loveless, ever-anxious crowd,

Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth

A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud,

Enveloping the earth;

And from the soul itself must there be sent

A sweet and potent voice of its own birth,

Of all sweet sounds the life and element.”—Coleridge.

Green spot of holy ground!

If thou couldst yet be found,

Far in deep woods, with all thy starry flowers;

If not one sullying breath

Of time, or change, or death,

Had touch’d the vernal glory of thy bowers;

Might our tired pilgrim-feet,

Worn by the desert’s heat,

On the bright freshness of thy turf repose?

Might our eyes wander there

Through heaven’s transparent air,

And rest on colours of the immortal rose?

Say, would thy balmy skies

And fountain-melodies

Our heritage of lost delight restore?

Could thy soft honey-dews

Through all our veins diffuse

The early, child-like, trustful sleep once more?

And might we, in the shade

By thy tall cedars made,

With angel-voices high communion hold?

Would their sweet, solemn tone

Give back the music gone,

Our Being’s harmony, so jarr’d of old?

Oh no!—thy sunny hours

Might come with blossom-showers,

All thy young leaves to spirit-lyres might thrill;

But we—should we not bring

Into thy realms of spring

The shadows of our souls to haunt us still?

What could thy flowers and airs

Do for our earth-born cares?

Would the world’s chain melt off and leave us free?

No!—past each living stream,

Still would some fever-dream

Track the lorn wanderers, meet no more for thee!

Should we not shrink with fear

If angel-steps were near,

Feeling our burden’d souls within us die?

How might our passions brook

The still and searching look,

The star-like glance of seraph purity?

Thy golden-fruited grove

Was not for pining love;

Vain sadness would but dim thy crystal skies!

Oh! thou wert but a part

Of what man’s exiled heart

Hath lost—the dower of inborn Paradise!


Night hung on Salem’s towers,

And a brooding hush profound

Lay where the Roman eagle shone

High o’er the tents around—

The tents that rose by thousands,

In the moonlight glimmering pale;

Like white waves of a frozen sea

Filling an Alpine vale.

And the Temple’s massy shadow

Fell broad, and dark, and still,

In peace—as if the Holy One

Yet watch’d his chosen hill.

But a fearful sound was heard

In that old fane’s deepest heart,

As if mighty wings rush’d by,

And a dread voice raised the cry,

Let us depart!

Within the fated city

E’en then fierce discord raved,

Though o’er night’s heaven the comet-sword

Its vengeful token waved.

There were shouts of kindred warfare

Through the dark streets ringing high,

Though every sign was full which told

Of the bloody vintage nigh;

Though the wild red spears and arrows

Of many a meteor host

Went flashing o’er the holy stars,

In the sky now seen, now lost.

And that fearful sound was heard

In the Temple’s deepest heart,

As if mighty wings rush’d by,

And a voice cried mournfully,

Let us depart!

But within the fated city

There was revelry that night—

The wine-cup and the timbrel note,

And the blaze of banquet-light.

The footsteps of the dancer

Went bounding through the hall,

And the music of the dulcimer

Summon’d to festival:

While the clash of brother-weapons

Made lightning in the air,

And the dying at the palace gates

Lay down in their despair;

And that fearful sound was heard

At the Temple’s thrilling heart,

As if mighty wings rush’d by,

And a dread voice raised the cry,

Let us depart!



By the dark stillness brooding in the sky,

Holiest of sufferers! round thy path of woe,

And by the weight of mortal agony

Laid on thy drooping form and pale meek brow,

My heart was awed: the burden of thy pain

Sank on me with a mystery and a chain.

I look’d once more—and, as the virtue shed

Forth from thy robe of old, so fell a ray

Of victory from thy mien; and round thy head,

The halo, melting spirit-like away,

Seem’d of the very soul’s bright rising born,

To glorify all sorrow, shame, and scorn.

And upwards, through transparent darkness gleaming,

Gazed in mute reverence woman’s earnest eye,

Lit, as a vase whence inward light is streaming,

With quenchless faith, and deep love’s fervency,

Gathering, like incense round some dim-veil’d shrine,

About the form, so mournfully divine!

Oh! let thine image, as e’en then it rose,

Live in my soul for ever, calm and clear,

Making itself a temple of repose,

Beyond the breath of human hope or fear!

A holy place, where through all storms may lie

One living beam of dayspring from on high.


“Could we but keep our spirits to that height,

We might be happy; but this clay will sink

Its spark immortal.”—Byron.

Return, my thoughts—come home!

Ye wild and wing’d! what do ye o’er the deep?

And wherefore thus the abyss of time o’ersweep,

As birds the ocean-foam?

Swifter than shooting-star,

Swifter than lances of the northern-light,

Upspringing through the purple heaven of night,

Hath been your course afar!

Through the bright battle-clime,

Where laurel boughs make dim the Grecian streams,

And reeds are whispering of heroic themes,

By temples of old time:

Through the north’s ancient halls,

Where banners thrill’d of yore—where harp-strings rung;

But grass waves now o’er those that fought and sung,

Hearth-light hath left their walls!

Through forests old and dim,

Where o’er the leaves dread magic seems to brood;

And sometimes on the haunted solitude

Rises the pilgrim’s hymn:

Or where some fountain lies,

With lotus-cups through orient spice-woods gleaming!

There have ye been, ye wanderers! idly dreaming

Of man’s lost paradise!

Return, my thoughts—return!

Cares wait your presence in life’s daily track,

And voices, not of music, call you back—

Harsh voices, cold and stem!

Oh, no! return ye not!

Still farther, loftier, let your soarings be!

Go, bring me strength from journeyings bright and free,

O’er many a haunted spot.

Go! seek the martyr’s grave,

Midst the old mountains, and the deserts vast;

Or, through the ruin’d cities of the past,

Follow the wise and brave!

Go! visit cell and shrine,

Where woman hath endured!—thro’ wrong, thro’ scorn,

Uncheer’d by fame, yet silently upborne

By promptings more divine!”

Go, shoot the gulf of death!

Track the pure spirit where no chain can bind,

Where the heart’s boundless love its rest may find,

Where the storm sends no breath!

Higher, and yet more high—!

Shake off the cumbering chain which earth would lay

On your victorious wings—mount, mount! Your way

Is through eternity!


“The Water-Lilies, that are serene in the calm clear water, but no less serene among the black and scowling waves.”

—Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life.

Oh! beautiful thou art,

Thou sculpture-like and stately river-queen!

Crowning the depths, as with the light serene

Of a pure heart.

Bright lily of the wave!

Rising in fearless grace with every swell,

Thou seem’st as if a spirit meekly brave

Dwelt in thy cell:

Lifting alike thy head

Of placid beauty, feminine yet free,

Whether with foam or pictured azure spread

The waters be.

What is like thee, fair flower,

The gentle and the firm! thus bearing up

To the blue sky that alabaster cup,

As to the shower?

Oh! love is most like thee,

The love of woman! quivering to the blast

Through every nerve, yet rooted deep and fast,

Midst life’s dark sea.

And faith—oh, is not faith

Like thee, too, lily! springing into light,

Still buoyantly, above the billows’ might,

Through the storm’s breath?

Yes! link’d with such high thought,

Flower! let thine image in my bosom lie;

Till something there of its own purity

And peace be wrought—

Something yet more divine

Than the clear, pearly, virgin lustre shed

Forth from thy breast upon the river’s bed.

As from a shrine.



He pass’d from earth

Without his fame,—the calm, pure, starry fame

He might have won, to guide on radiantly

Full many a noble soul,—he sought it not;

And e’en like brief and barren lightning pass’d

The wayward child of genius. And the songs

Which his wild spirit, in the pride of life,

Had shower’d forth recklessly, as ocean-waves

Fling up their treasures mingled with dark weed,

They died before him;—they were winged seed

Scatter’d afar, and, falling on the rock

Of the world’s heart, had perish’d. One alone,

One fervent, mournful, supplicating strain,

The deep beseeching of a stricken breast,

Survived the vainly-gifted. In the souls

Of the kind few that loved him, with a love

Faithful to even its disappointed hope,

That song of tears found root, and by their hearths

Full oft, in low and reverential tones,

Fill’d with the piety of tenderness,

Is murmur’d to their children, when his name

On some faint harp-string of remembrance falls,

Far from the world’s rude voices, far away.

Oh! hear, and judge him gently; ’twas his last.

I come alone, and faint I come—

To nature’s arms I flee;

The green woods take their wanderer home,

But Thou, O Father! may I turn to thee?

The earliest odour of the flower,

The bird’s first song is thine;

Father in heaven! my dayspring’s hour

Pour’d its vain incense on another shrine.

Therefore my childhood’s once-loved scene

Around me faded lies;

Therefore, remembering what hath been,

I ask, is this mine early paradise?

It is, it is—but Thou art gone;

Or if the trembling shade

Breathe yet of thee, with alter’d tone

Thy solemn whisper shakes a heart dismay’d.


They rear’d no trophy o’er his grave,

They hade no requiem flow;

What left they there to tell the brave

That a warrior sleeps below?

A shiver’d spear, a cloven shield,

A helm with its white plume torn,

And a blood-stain’d turf on the fatal field,

Where a chief to his rest was borne.

He lies not where his fathers sleep,

But who hath a tomb more proud?

For the Syrian wilds his record keep,

And a banner is his shroud.


“Go, call thy sons; instruct them what a debt

They owe their ancestors; and make them swear

To pay it, by transmitting down entire

Those sacred rights to which themselves were born.”


Look from the ancient mountains down,

My noble English boy!

Thy country’s fields around thee gleam

In sunlight and in joy.

Ages have roll’d since foeman’s march

Pass’d o’er that old, firm sod;

For well the land hath fealty held

To freedom and to God!

Gaze proudly on, my English boy!

And let thy kindling mind

Drink in the spirit of high thought

From every chainless wind!

There, in the shadow of old Time,

The halls beneath thee lie

Which pour’d forth to the fields of yore

Our England’s chivalry.

How bravely and how solemnly

They stand, midst oak and yew!

Whence Cressy’s yeomen haply framed

The bow, in battle true.

And round their walls the good swords hang

Whose faith knew no alloy,

And shields of knighthood, pure from stain:

Gaze on, my English boy!

Gaze where the hamlet’s ivied church

Gleams by the antique elm,

Or where the minster lifts the cross

High through the air’s blue realm.

Martyrs have shower’d their free heart’s blood

That England’s prayer might rise,

From those gray fanes of thoughtful years,

Unfetter’d, to the skies.

Along their aisles, beneath their trees,

This earth’s most glorious dust,

Once fired with valour, wisdom, song,

Is laid in holy trust.

Gaze on—gaze farther, farther yet—

My gallant English boy!

Yon blue sea bears thy country’s flag,

The billows’ pride and joy!

Those waves in many a fight have closed

Above her faithful dead;

That red-cross flag victoriously

Hath floated o’er their bed.

They perish’d—this green turf to keep

By hostile tread unstain’d,

These knightly halls inviolate,

Those churches unprofaned.

And high and clear their memory’s light

Along our shore is set,

And many an answering beacon-fire

Shall there be kindled yet!

Lift up thy heart, my English boy!

And pray, like them to stand,

Should God so summon thee, to guard

The altars of the land.


Flower of starry clearness bright!

Quivering urn of colour’d light!

Hast thou drawn thy cup’s rich dye

From the intenseness of the sky?

From a long, long fervent gaze

Through the year’s first golden days,

Up that blue and silent deep,

Where, like things of sculptured sleep,

Alabaster clouds repose,

With the sunshine on their snows?

Thither was thy heart’s love turning,

Like a censer ever burning,

Till the purple heavens in thee

Set their smile, Anemone?

Or can those warm tints be caught

Each from some quick glow of thought?

So much of bright soul there seems

In thy bendings and thy gleams,

So much thy sweet life resembles

That which feels, and weeps, and trembles,

I could deem thee spirit-fill’d,

As a reed by music thrill’d,

When thy being I behold

To each loving breath unfold,

Or, like woman’s willowy form,

Shrink before the gathering storm!

I could ask a voice from thee,

Delicate Anemone!

Flower! thou seem’st not born to die

With thy radiant purity,

But to melt in air away,

Mingling with the soft Spring-day,

When the crystal heavens are still,

And faint azure veils each hill,

And the lime-leaf doth not move,

Save to songs that stir the grove,

And earth all glorified is seen,

As imaged in some lake serene;

—Then thy vanishing should be,

Pure and meek Anemone!

Flower! the laurel still may shed

Brightness round the victor’s head;

And the rose in beauty’s hair

Still its festal glory wear;

And the willow-leaves drop o’er

Brows which love sustains no more:

But by living rays refined,

Thou, the trembler of the wind,

Thou the spiritual flower,

Sentient of each breeze and shower,

Thou, rejoicing in the skies,

And transpierced with all their dyes;

Breathing vase, with light o’erflowing,

Gem-like to thy centre glowing,

Thou the poet’s type shalt be,

Flower of soul, Anemone!



The dramatic poem of “Tasso,” though presenting no changeful pageants of many-coloured life—no combination of stirring incidents, nor conflict of tempestuous passions—is yet rich in interest for those who find—

“The still, sad music of humanity,

... of ample power

To chasten and subdue.”

It is a picture of the struggle between elements which never can assimilate—powers whose dominion is over spheres essentially adverse; between the spirit of poetry and the spirit of the world. Why is it that this collision is almost invariably fatal to the gentler and the holier nature? Some master-minds have, indeed, winged their way through the tumults of crowded life, like the sea-bird cleaving the storm from which its pinions come forth unstained; but there needs a celestial panoply, with which few indeed are gifted, to bear the heirs of genius not only unwounded, but unsoiled, through the battle; and too frequently the result of the poet’s lingering afar from his better home has been mental degradation and untimely death. Let us not be understood as requiring for his wellbeing an absolute seclusion from the world and its interests. His nature, if the abiding-place of the true light be indeed within him, is endowed above all others with the tenderest and most widely-embracing sympathies. Not alone from “the things of the everlasting hills,” from the storms or the silence of midnight skies, will he seek the grandeur and the beauty which have their central residence in a far more majestic temple. Mountains, and rivers, and mighty woods, the cathedrals of nature—these will have their part in his pictures; but their colouring and shadows will not be wholly the gift of rising or departed suns, nor of the night with all her stars; it will be a varying suffusion from the life within, from the glowing clouds of thought and feeling, which mantle with their changeful drapery all external creation.

——“We receive but what we give,

And in our life alone does nature live.”

Let the poet bear into the recesses of woods and shadowy hills a heart full-fraught with the sympathies which will have been fostered by intercourse with his kind—a memory covered with the secret inscriptions which joy and sorrow fail not indelibly to write: then will the voice of every stream respond to him in tones of gladness or melancholy, accordant with those of his own soul, and he himself, by the might of feelings intensely human, may breathe the living spirit of the oracle into the resounding cavern or the whispering oak. We thus admit it essential to his high office, that the chambers of imagery in the heart of the poet must be filled with materials moulded from the sorrows, the affections, the fiery trials, and immortal longings of the human soul. Where love, and faith, and anguish, meet and contend—where the tones of prayer are wrung from the suffering spirit—there lie his veins of treasure; there are the sweet waters ready to flow from the stricken rock. But he will not seek them through the gaudy and hurrying masque of artificial life; he will not be the fettered Samson to make sport for the sons and daughters of fashion. Whilst he shuns no brotherly communion with his kind, he will ever reserve to his nature the power of self-communion—silent hours for

“The harvest of the quiet eye

That broods and sleeps on his own heart,”

and inviolate retreats in the depths of his being—fountains lone and still, upon which only the eye of Heaven shines down in its hallowed serenity. So have those who make us “heirs of truth and freedom by immortal lays,” ever preserved the calm, intellectual ether in which they live and move from the taint of worldly infection; and it appears the object of Goethe, in the work before us, to make the gifted spirit sadder and wiser by the contemplation of one, which, having sold its birthright, and stooped from its “privacy of glorious light,” is forced into perpetual contact with things essentially of the earth earthy. Dante has spoken of what the Italian poets must have learned but too feelingly under their protecting princes—the bitter taste of another’s bread, the weary steps by which the stairs of another’s house are ascended; but it is suffering of a more spiritual nature which is here portrayed. Would that the courtly patronage, at the shrine of which the Italian muse has so often waved her censer, had imposed no severer tasks upon its votaries than the fashioning of the snow statue which it required from the genius of Michael Angelo! The story of Tasso is fraught with yet deeper meaning, though it is not from the period of his most agonising trials that the materials of Goethe’s work are drawn. The poet is here introduced to us as a youth at the court of Ferrara; visionary, enthusiastic, keenly alive to the splendour of the gorgeous world around him, throwing himself passionately upon the current of every newly-excited feeling; a creature of sudden lights and shadows, of restless strivings after ideal perfection, of exultations and of agonies. Why is it that the being thus exhibited as endowed with all these trembling capacities for joy and pain, with noble aspirations and fervid eloquence, fails to excite a more reverential interest, a more tender admiration? He is wanting in dignity, in the sustaining consciousness of his own high mission; he has no city of refuge within himself, and thus—

“Every little living nerve,

That from bitter words doth swerve,”

has the power to shake his whole soul from its pride of place. He is thus borne down by the cold, triumphant worldliness of the courtier Antonio, from the collision with whom, and the mistaken endeavour of Tasso’s friends to reconcile natures dissimilar as the sylph and gnome of fanciful creations, the conflicting elements of the piece are chiefly derived. There are impressive lessons to be drawn from the contemplation of these scenes, though, perhaps, it is not quite thus that we could have wished him delineated who “poured his spirit over Palestine;” and it is occasionally almost too painful to behold the high-minded Tasso, recognised by his country as superior with the sword and the pen to all men, struggling in so ignoble an arena, and finally overpowered by so unworthy an antagonist. This world is indeed “too much with us,” and but too powerful is often its withering breath upon the ethereal natures of love, devotion, and enthusiasm, which, in other regions,

“May bear bright, golden flowers, but not in this soil.”

Yet who has not known victorious moments, in which the lightly-armed genii of ridicule have quailed!—the conventional forms of life have shrunk as a shrivelled scroll before the Ithuriel touch of some generous feeling, some high and overshadowing passion suddenly aroused from the inmost recesses of the folded soul, and striking the electric chain which mysteriously connects all humanity? We could have wished that some such thrilling moment had been here introduced by the mighty master of Germany—something to relieve the too continuous impression of inherent weakness in the cause of the vanquished—something of a transmuting power in the soul of Tasso, to glorify the clouds which accumulate around it—to turn them into “contingencies of pomp” by the interpenetration of its own celestial light. Yet we approach with reverence the work of a noble hand; and, whilst entering upon our task of translation, we acknowledge, in humility, the feebleness of all endeavour to pour into the vase of another language the exquisitely subtle spirit of Goethe’s poetry—to transplant and naturalise the delicate felicities of thought and expression by which this piece is so eminently distinguished.

The visionary rapture which takes possession of Tasso upon being crowned with laurel by the Princess Leonora d’Este, the object of an affection which the youthful poet has scarcely yet acknowledged to himself, is thus portrayed in one of the earlier scenes:—

“Let me then bear the burden of my bliss

To some deep grove that oft hath veil’d my grief;

There let me roam in solitude: no eye

Shall then recall the triumph undeserved.

And if some shining fountain suddenly

On its clear mirror to my sight should give

The form of one who, strangely, brightly crown’d,

Seems musing in the blue reflected heaven,

As it streams down through rocks and parted trees,

Then will I dream that on the enchanted wave

I see Elysium pictured! I will ask

Who is the bless’d departed one?—the youth

From long past ages with his glorious wreath?

Who shall reveal his name?—who speak his worth?

Oh! that another and another there

Might press, with him to hold bright communing!

Might I but see the minstrels and the chiefs

Of the old time on that pure fountain-side.

For evermore inseparably link’d

As they were link’d in life! Not steel to steel

Is bound more closely by the magnet’s power

Than the same striving after lofty things

Doth bind the bard and warrior. Homer’s life

Was self-forgetfulness—he pour’d it forth,

One rich libation to another’s fame:

And Alexander through th’ Elysian grove

To seek Achilles and his poet flies.

Might I behold their meeting!”

But he is a reed shaken with the wind. Antonio

reaches the Court of Ferrara at this crisis, in all the importance of a successful negotiation with the Vatican. He strikes down the wing of the poet’s delicate imagination with the arrows of a careless irony, and Tasso is for a time completely dazzled and overpowered by the worldly science of the skilful diplomatist. The deeper wisdom of his own simplicity is yet veiled from his eyes. Life seems to pass before him, as portrayed by the discourse of Antonio, like a mighty triumphal procession, in the exulting movements and clarion-sounds of which he alone has no share; and at last the forms of beauty, peopling his own spiritual world, seem to dissolve into clouds, even into faint shadows of clouds, before the strong glare of the external world, leaving his imagination as a desolate house, whence light and music have departed. He thus pours forth, when alone with the Princess Leonora, the impressions produced upon him by Antonio’s descriptions:—

They still disturb my heart—

Still do they crowd my soul tumultuously—

The troubling images of that vast world,

Which—living, restless, fearful as it is—

Yet, at the bidding of one master-mind,

E’en as commanded by a demigod,

Seems to fulfil its course. With eagerness,

Yea, with a strange delight, my soul drank in

The strong words of the experienced; but, alas!

The more I listen’d, still the more I sank

In mine own eyes; I seem’d to die away

As into some faint echo of the rocks—

A shadowy sound—a nothing!

There is something of a very touching beauty in the character of the Princess Leonora d’Este. She does not, indeed, resemble some of the lovely beings delineated by Shakspeare—the females, “graceful without design, and unforeseeing,” in whom, even under the pressure of heaviest calamity, it is easy to discern the existence of the sunny and gladsome nature which would spring up with fawn-like buoyancy were but the crushing weight withdrawn. The spirit of Leonora has been at once elevated and subdued by early trial: high thoughts, like messengers from heaven, have been its visitants in the solitude of the sick-chamber; and looking upon life and creation, as it were, through the softening veil of remembered suffering, it has settled into such majestic loveliness as the Italian painters delight to shadow forth on the calm brow of their Madonna. Its very tenderness is self-resignation; its inner existence serene, yet sad—“a being breathing thoughtful breath.” She is worshipped by the poet as his tutelary angel, and her secret affection for him might almost become that character. It has all the deep devotedness of a woman’s heart, with the still purity of a seraphic guardian, taking no part in the passionate dreams of earthly happiness. She feels his genius with a reverential appreciation; she watches over it with a religious tenderness, for ever interposing to screen its unfolding powers from every ruder breath. She rejoices in his presence as a flower filling its cup with gladness from the morning light; yet, preferring his wellbeing to all earthly things, she would meekly offer up, for the knowledge of his distant happiness, even the fulness of that only and unutterable joy. A deep feeling of woman’s lot on earth—the lot of endurance and of sacrifice—seems ever present to her soul, and speaks characteristically in these lines, with which she replies to a wish of Tasso’s for the return of the golden age:—

When earth has men to reverence female hearts,

To know the treasure of rich truth and love,

Set deep within a high-soul’d woman’s breast;

When the remembrance of our summer prime

Keeps brightly in man’s heart a holy place;

When the keen glance that pierces through so much

Looks also tenderly through that dim veil

By time or sickness hung round drooping forms,

When the possession, stilling every wish,

Draws not desire away to other wealth—

A brighter dayspring then for us may dawn,

Then may we solemnise our golden age.

A character thus meditative, affectionate, and self-secluding, would naturally be peculiarly sensitive to the secret intimations of coming sorrow. Forebodings of evil arise in her mind from the antipathy so apparent between Tasso and Antonio; and, after learning that the cold, keen irony of the latter has irritated the poet almost to frenzy, she thus, to her friend Leonora de Sanvitale, reproaches herself for not having listened to the monitory whispers of her soul:—

Alas! that we so slowly learn to heed

The secret signs and omens of the breast!

An oracle speaks low within our hearts—

Low, still, yet clear, its prophet-voice forewarns

What to pursue, what shun.


Yes! my whole soul misgave me silently

When he and Tasso met.

She admits to her friend the necessity for his departure from Ferrara; but thus reverts, with fondly-clinging remembrance, to the time when he first became known to her:—

Oh! mark’d and singled was the hour when first

He met mine eye! Sickness and grief just then

Had pass’d away: from long, long suffering freed,

I lifted up my brow, and silently

Gazed upon life again. The sunny day,

The sweet looks of my kindred, made a light

Of gladness round me, and my freshen’d heart

Drank the rich, healing balm of hope once more.

Then onward, through the glowing world, I dared

To send my glance, and many a kind, bright shape

There beckon’d from afar. Then first the youth,

Led by a sister’s hand, before me stood,

And my soul clung to him e’en then, O friend!

To cling for evermore.

Leo. Lament it not,

My princess!—to have known heaven’s gifted ones

Is to have gather’d into the full soul

Inalienable wealth!

Prin. Oh, precious things!

The richly graced, the exquisite, are things

To fear, to love with trembling! Beautiful

Is the pure flame when on thy hearth it shines,

When in the friendly torch it gives thee light,

How gracious and how calm!—but, once unchain’d,

Lo! ruin sweeps along its fatal path!

She then announces her determination to make the sacrifice of his society, in which alone her being seems to find its full completion.

Alas, dear friend! my soul indeed is fix’d—

Let him depart! Yet cannot I but feel

Even now the sadness of long days to come—

The cold void left me by a lost delight!

No more shall sunrise from my opening eye

Chase his bright image glorified in dreams;

Glad hope to see him shall no longer stir

With joyous flutterings my scarce-waken’d soul;

And vainly, vainly, through yon garden bowers,

Amidst the dewy shadows, my first look

Shall seek his form! How blissful was the thought

With him to share each golden evening’s peace!

How grew the longing, hour by hour, to read

His spirit yet more deeply! Day by day

How my own being, tuned to happiness,

Gave forth a voice of finer harmony!—

Now is the twilight-gloom around me fallen:

The festal day, the sun’s magnificence,

All riches of this many-colour’d world,

What are they now?—dim, soulless, desolate!

Veil’d in the cloud that sinks upon my heart.

Once was each day a life!—each care was mute,

Even the low boding hush’d within the soul;

And the smooth waters of a gliding stream,

Without the rudder’s aid, bore lightly on

Our fairy bark of joy!

Her companion endeavours, but in vain, to console her.

Leon. If the kind words of friendship cannot soothe,

The still, sweet influences of this fair world

Shall win thee back unconsciously to peace.

Prin. Yes! beautiful it is, the glowing world!

So many a joy keeps flitting to and fro

In all its paths, and ever, ever seems

One step, but one, removed; till our fond thirst

For the still fading fountain, step by step,

Lures to the grave! So seldom do we find

What seem’d by Nature moulded for our love,

And for our bliss endow’d—or, if we find,

So seldom to our yearning hearts can hold!

That which once freely made itself our own

Bursts from us!—that which eagerly we press’d

We coldly loose! A treasure may be ours,

Only we know it not, or know, perchance,

Unconscious of its worth!

But the dark clouds are gathering within the spirit of Tasso itself, and the devotedness of affection would in vain avert their lightnings by the sacrifice of all its own pure enjoyments. In the solitary confinement to which the Duke has sentenced him, as a punishment for his duel with Antonio, his jealous imagination, like that of the self-torturing Rousseau, pictures the whole world as arrayed in one conspiracy against him, and he doubts even of her truth and gentleness whose watching thoughts are all for his welfare. The following passages affectingly mark the progress of the dark despondency which finally overwhelms him, though the concluding lines of the last are brightened by a ray of those immortal hopes, the light of which we could have desired to recognise more frequently in this deeply thoughtful work.


Alas! too well I feel, too true a voice

Within me whispers, that the Mighty Power

Which, on sustaining wings of strength and joy,

Bears up the healthful spirit, will but cast

Mine to the earth—will rend me utterly!——

I must away!


Rightly thou speak’st—I am myself no more;

And yet in worth not less than I have been.

Seems this a dark, strange riddle? Yet,’tis none!

The gentle moon that gladdens thee by night—

Thine eye, thy spirit irresistibly

Winning with beams of love—mark! how it floats

Through the day’s glare, a pale and powerless cloud!

I am o’ercome by the full blaze of noon;

Ye know me, and I know myself no more!


Vainly, too vainly, ’gainst the power I strive,

Which, night and day, comes rushing through my soul!

Without that pouring forth of thought and song

My life is life no more!

Wilt thou forbid the silkworm to spin on,

When hourly, with the labour’d line, he draws

Nearer to death. In vain!—the costly web

Must from his inmost being still be wrought,

Till he lies wrapp’d in his consummate shroud.

Oh! that a gracious God to us may give

The lot of that bless’d worm!—to spread free wings,

And burst exultingly on brighter life,

In a new realm of sunshine!

He is at last released, and admitted into the presence of the Princess Leonora, to take his leave of her before commencing a distant journey. Notwithstanding his previous doubts of her interest in him, he is overcome by the pitying tenderness of her manner, and breaks into a strain of passionate gratitude and enthusiasm:—

Thou art the same pure angel, as when first

Thy radiance cross’d my path! Forgive, forgive,

If for a moment, in his blind despair,

The mortal’s troubled glance hath read thee wrong!

Once more he knows thee! His expanding soul

Flows forth to worship thee for evermore,

And his full heart dissolves in tenderness.

* * * * * *

Is it false light which draws me on to thee?

Is it delirium?—Is it thought inspired,

And grasping first high truth divinely clear?

Yes! ’tis even so—the feeling which alone

Can make me bless’d on earth!

The wildness of his ecstasy at last terrifies his gentle protectress from him; he is forsaken by all as a being lost in hopeless delusion, and, being left alone tn the insulting pity of Antonio, his strength of heart is utterly subdued: he passionately bewails his weakness, and even casts down his spirit almost in wondering admiration before the calm self-collectedness of his enemy, who himself seems at last almost melted by the extremity of the poet’s desolation, as thus poured forth:—

Can I then image no high-hearted man

Whose pangs and conflicts have surpass’d mine own,

That my vex’d soul might win sustaining power

From thoughts of him? I cannot!—all is lost!

One thing alone remains, one mournful boon:

Nature on us, her suffering children, showers

The gift of tears—the impassion’d cry of grief,

When man can bear no more;—and with my woe,

With mine above all others, hath been link’d

Sad music, piercing eloquence, to pour

All, all its fulness forth! To me a God

Hath given strong utterance for mine agony,

When others, in their deep despair, are mute!

* * * * * *

Thou standest calm and still, thou noble man!

I seem before thee as the troubled wave:

But oh! be thoughtful!—in thy lofty strength

Exult thou not! By nature’s might alike

That rock was fix’d, that quivering wave was made

The sensitive of storm! She sends her blasts—

The living water flies—it quakes and swells,

And bows down tremblingly with breaking foam;

Yet once that mirror gave the bright sun back

In calm transparence—once the gentle stars

Lay still upon its undulating breast!

Now the sweet peace is gone—the glory now

Departed from the wave! I know myself

No more in these dark perils, and no more

I blush to lose that knowledge. From the bark

Is wrench’d the rudder, and through all its frame

The quivering vessel groans. Beneath my feet

The rocking earth gives way—to thee I cling—

I grasp thee with mine arms. In wild despair

So doth the struggling sailor clasp the rock

Whereon he perishes!

And thus painfully ends this celebrated drama, the catastrophe being that of the spiritual wreck within, unmingled with the terrors drawn from outward circumstances and change. The majestic lines in which Byron has embodied the thoughts of the captive Tasso, will form a fine contrast and relief to the music of despair with which Goethe’s work is closed:—

“All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,

But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;

For I have baffled with mine agony,

And made me wings wherewith to overfly

The narrow circus of my dungeon-wall;

And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall;

And revell’d among men and things divine,

And pour’d my spirit over Palestine,

In honour of the sacred war for Him,

The God who was on earth and is in heaven;

For He hath strengthen’d me in heart and limb.

That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,

I have employ’d my penance to record

How Salem’s shrine was won, and how adored.”



There is a charm of antique grace, of the majestic repose resulting from a faultless symmetry, about the whole of this composition, which inclines us to rank it as among the most consummate works of art ever achieved by the master-mind of its author. The perfection of its design and finish is analogous to that of a Grecian temple, seen as the crown of some old classic height, with all its pure outlines—all the delicate proportions of its airy pillars—brought into bold relief by the golden sunshine, and against the unclouded blue of its native heavens. Complete within itself, the harmonious edifice is thus also to the mind and eye of the beholder; they are filled, and desire no more—they even feel that more would be but encumbrance upon the fine adjustment of the well-ordered parts constituting the graceful whole. It sends no vague dreams to wander through infinity, such as are excited by a Gothic minster, where the slight pinnacles striving upward, like the free but still baffled thought of the architect—the clustering pillars and high arches imitating the bold combinations of mysterious forests—the many-branching cells, and long visionary aisles, of which waving torchlight or uncertain glimpses of the moon seem the fittest illumination—ever suggest ideas of some conception in the originally moulding mind, far more vast than the means allotted to human accomplishment—of struggling endeavour, and painfully submitted will. Akin to the spirit of such creations is that of the awful but irregular Faust, and other works of Goethe, in which the restless questionings, the lofty aspirations, and dark misgivings of the human soul, are perpetually called up to “come like shadows, so depart,” across the stormy splendours of the scene; and the mind is engaged in ceaseless conflict with the interminable mysteries of life. It is otherwise with the work before us: overshadowed, as it were, by the dark wings of the inflexible Destiny which hovers above the children of Tantalus, the spirit of the imaginary personages, as well as of the reader, here moves acquiescently within the prescribed circle of events, and is seldom tempted beyond, to plunge into the abyss of general speculations upon the lot of humanity.

* * * * * *


O sweetest voice! O bless’d familiar sound

Of mother-words heard in the stranger’s land!

I see the blue hills of my native shore,

The far blue hills again! those cordial tones,

Before the captive bid them freshly rise

For ever welcome! Oh, by this deep joy,

Know the true son of Greece!


Oh, hear me! look upon me! How my heart,

After long desolation, now unfolds

Unto this new delight, to kiss thy head,

Thou dearest, dearest one of all on earth!

To clasp thee with my arms, which were but thrown

On the void winds before! Oh, give me way!

Give my soul’s rapture way! The eternal fount

Leaps not more brightly forth from cliff to cliff

Of high Parnassus, down the golden vale,

Than the strong joy bursts gushing from my heart,

And swells around me to a flood of bliss—

Orestes!—O my brother!


Man by the battle’s hour immortalised

May fall, yet leave his name to living song;

But of forsaken woman’s countless tears,

What recks the after-world? The poet’s voice

Tells naught of all the slow, sad, weary days,

And long, long nights, through which the lonely soul

Pour’d itself forth, consumed itself away,

In passionate adjurings, vain desires,

And ceaseless weepings for the early lost,

The loved and vanish’d!


One draught from Lethe’s flood!—reach me one draught,

One last cool goblet fill’d with dewy peace!

Soon will the spasm of life departing leave

My bosom free! Soon shall my spirit flow

Along the deep waves of forgetfulness,

Calmly and silently! away to you,

Ye dead! Ye dwellers of the eternal cloud!

Take home the son of earth, and let him steep

His o’erworn senses in your dim repose

For evermore.


Hark! in the trembling leaves

Mysterious whispers: hark! a rushing sound

Sweeps through yon twilight depth!—e’en now they come,

They throng to greet their guest! And who are they

Rejoicing each with each in stately joy,

As a king’s children gather’d for the hour

Of some high festival! Exultingly,

And kindred-like, and godlike, on they pass—

The glorious, wandering shapes! aged and young,

Proud men and royal women! Lo! my race—

My sire’s ancestral race!



O festal Spring! midst thy victorious glow,

Far-spreading o’er the kindled woods and plains,

And streams, that bound to meet thee from their chains,

Well might there lurk the shadow of a woe

For human hearts, and in the exulting flow

Of thy rich songs a melancholy tone,

Were we of mould all earthly—we alone,

Sever’d from thy great spell, and doom’d to go

Farther, still farther, from our sunny time,

Never to feel the breathings of our prime,

Never to flower again! But we, O Spring!

Cheer’d by deep spirit-whispers not of earth,

Press to the regions of thy heavenly birth,

As here thy flowers and birds press on to bloom and sing.


Far from the rustlings of the poplar-bough,

Which o’er my opening life wild music made,

Far from the green hills with their heathery glow

And flashing streams whereby my childhood play’d;

In the dim city, midst the sounding flow

Of restless life, to thee in love I turn

O thou rich Sky! and from thy splendours learn

How song-birds come and part, flowers wane and blow.

With thee all shapes of glory find their home,

And thou hast taught me well, majestic dome!

By stars, by sunsets, by soft clouds which rove

Thy blue expanse, or sleep in silvery rest,

That Nature’s God hath left no spot unbless’d

With founts of beauty for the eye of love.


Oh! judge in thoughtful tenderness of those

Who, richly dower’d for life, are call’d to die

Ere the soul’s flame, through storms, hath won repose

In truth’s divinest ether, still and high!

Let their mind’s riches claim a trustful sigh!

Deem them but sad, sweet fragments of a strain,

First notes of some yet struggling harmony,

By the strong rush, the crowding joy and pain

Of many inspirations met, and held

From its true sphere,—oh! soon it might have swell’d

Majestically forth! Nor doubt that He,

Whose touch mysterious may on earth dissolve

Those links of music, elsewhere will evolve

Their grand consummate hymn, from passion-gusts made free!


Upward and upward still!—in pearly light

The clouds are steep’d! the vernal spirit sighs

With bliss in every wind, and crystal skies

Woo thee, O bird! to thy celestial height.

Bird, piercing heaven with music! thy free flight

Hath meaning for all bosoms; most of all

For those wherein the rapture and the might

Of poesy lie deep, and strive, and burn,

For their high place. O heirs of genius! learn

From the sky’s bird your way! No joy may fill

Your hearts, no gift of holy strength be won

To bless your songs, ye children of the sun!

Save by the unswerving flight, upward and upward still!


My earliest memories to thy shores are bound,

Thy solemn shores, thou ever-chanting main!

The first rich sunsets, kindling thought profound

In my lone being, made thy restless plain

As the vast, shining floor of some dread fane,

All paved with glass and fire. Yet, O blue deep!

Thou that no trace of human hearts dost keep,

Never to thee did love with silvery chain

Draw my soul’s dream, which through all nature


What waves deny,—some bower of steadfast bliss,

A home to twine with fancy, feeling, thought,

As with sweet flowers. But chasten’d hope for this

Now turns from earth’s green valleys, as from thee,

To that sole changeless world, where “there is no more sea.”


Yet, rolling far up some green mountain-dale,

Oft let me hear, as ofttimes I have heard,

Thy swell, thou deep! when evening calls the bird

And bee to rest; when summer-tints grow pale,

Seen through the gathering of a dewy veil;

And peasant-steps are hastening to repose,

And gleaming flocks lie down, and flower-cups close

To the last whisper of the falling gale.

Then midst the dying of all other sound,

When the soul hears thy distant voice profound,

Lone worshipping, and knows that through the night

’Twill worship still, then most its anthem-tone

Speaks to our being of the Eternal One,

Who girds tired nature with unslumbering might.


O Cambrian river! with slow music gliding

By pastoral hills, old woods, and ruin’d towers;

Now midst thy reeds and golden willows hiding,

Now gleaming forth by some rich bank of flowers;

Long flow’d the current of my life’s clear hours

Onward with thine, whose voice yet haunts my dream,

Tho’ time and change, and other mightier powers,

Far from thy side have borne me. Thou, smooth stream!

Art winding still thy sunny meads along,

Murmuring to cottage and gray hall thy song,

Low, sweet, unchanged. My being’s tide hath pass’d

Through rocks and storms; yet will I not complain,

If, thus wrought free and pure from earthly stain,

Brightly its waves may reach their parent-deep at last.


Doth thy heart stir within thee at the sight

Of orchard-blooms upon the mossy bough?

Doth their sweet household-smile waft back the glow

Of childhood’s morn—the wondering, fresh delight

In earth’s new colouring, then all strangely bright,

A joy of fairyland? Doth some old nook,

Haunted by visions of thy first-loved book,

Rise on thy soul, with faint-streak’d blossoms white

Shower’d o’er the turf, and the lone primrose-knot,

And robin’s nest, still faithful to the spot,

And the bee’s dreary chime? O gentle friend!

The world’s cold breath, not Time’s, this life bereaves

Of vernal gifts: time hallows what he leaves,

And will for us endear spring-memories to the end.

8th May.


Still are the cowslips from thy bosom springing,

O far-off, grassy dell?—and dost thou see,

When southern winds first wake their vernal singing,

The star-gleam of the wood anemone?

Doth the shy ringdove haunt thee yet? the bee

Hang on thy flowers as when I breathed farewell

To their wild blooms? and, round my beechen tree,

Still, in green softness, doth the moss-bank swell?

Oh, strange illusion! by the fond heart wrought,

Whose own warm life suffuses nature’s face!

My being’s tide of many-colour’d thought

Hath pass’d from thee; and now, rich, leafy place!

I paint thee oft, scarce consciously, a scene,

Silent, forsaken, dim, shadow’d by what hath been.


O vale and lake, within your mountain-urn

Smiling so tranquilly, and set so deep!

Oft doth your dreamy loveliness return,

Colouring the tender shadows of my sleep

With light Elysian; for the hues that steep

Your shores in melting lustre, seem to float

On golden clouds from spirit-lands remote,

Isles of the blest; and in our memory keep

Their place with holiest harmonies. Fair scene,

Most loved by evening and her dewy star!

Oh! ne’er may man, with touch unhallow’d, jar

The perfect music of thy charm serene!

Still, still unchanged, may one sweet region wear

Smiles that subdue the soul to love, and tears, and prayer.


Trees, gracious trees!—how rich a gift ye are,

Crown of the earth! to human hearts and eyes!

How doth the thought of home, in lands afar,

Link’d with your forms and kindly whisperings rise!

How the whole picture of a childhood lies

Oft midst your boughs forgotten, buried deep!

Till, gazing through them up the summer skies,

As hush’d we stand, a breeze perchance may creep,

And old, sweet leaf-sounds reach the inner world

Where memory coils—and lo! at once unfurl’d,

The past, a glowing scroll, before our sight

Spreads clear; while, gushing from their long-seal’d urn,

Young thoughts, pure dreams, undoubting prayers return,

And a lost mother’s eye gives back its holy light.


And ye are strong to shelter!—all meek things,

All that need home and covert, love your shade!

Birds of shy song, and low-voiced quiet springs,

And nun-like violets, by the winds betray’d.

Childhood beneath your fresh green tents hath play’d

With his first primrose-wreath: there love hath sought

A veiling gloom for his unutter’d thought;

A refuge for her tears; and ofttimes there

Hath lone devotion found a place of prayer,

A native temple, solemn, hush’d, and dim;

For wheresoe’er your murmuring tremours thrill

The woody twilight, there man’s heart hath still

Confess’d a spirit’s breath, and heard a ceaseless hymn.


O gentle story of the Indian isle!

I loved thee in my lonely childhood well

On the sea-shore, when day’s last, purple smile

Slept on the waters, and their hollow swell

And dying cadence lent a deeper spell

Unto thine ocean-pictures. Midst thy palms

And strange bright birds, my fancy joy’d to dwell,

And watch the southern cross through midnight calms,

And track the spicy woods. Yet more I bless’d

Thy vision of sweet love—kind, trustful, true,

Lighting the citron groves, a heavenly guest,

With such pure smiles as Paradise once knew.

Even then my young heart wept o’er this world’s power

To reach with blight that holiest Eden-flower.


Still that last look is solemn! though thy rays,

O sun! to-morrow will give back, we know,

The joy to nature’s heart. Yet through the glow

Of clouds that mantle thy decline, our gaze

Tracks thee with love half-fearful: and in days

When earth too much adored thee, what a swell

Of mournful passion, deepening mighty lays,

Told how the dying bade thy light farewell,

O sun of Greece! O glorious, festal sun!

Lost, lost!—for them thy golden hours were done,

And darkness lay before them! Happier far

Are we, not thus to thy bright wheels enchain’d,

Not thus for thy last parting unsustain’d—

Heirs of a purer day, with its unsetting star.


Calm scenes of patriarch life! how long a power

Your unworn pastoral images retain

O’er the true heart, which in its childhood’s hour

Drank their pure freshness deep! The camels’ train

Winding in patience o’er the desert plain—

The tent, the palm-tree, the reposing flock,

The gleaming fount, the shadow of the rock—

Oh! by how subtle, yet how strong a chain,

And in the influence of its touch how bless’d,

Are these things link’d, in many a thoughtful breast,

To household-memories, thro’ all change endear’d!

—The matin bird, the ripple of a stream

Beside our native porch, the hearth-light’s gleam,

The voices, earliest by the soul revered!


What secret current of man’s nature turns

Unto the golden East with ceaseless flow?

Still, where the sunbeam at its fountain burns,

The pilgrim-spirit would adore and glow;

Rapt in high thoughts, though weary, faint, and slow,

Still doth the traveller through the deserts wind,

Led by those old Chaldean stars, which know

Where pass’d the shepherd-fathers of mankind.

Is it some quenchless instinct, which from far

Still points to where our alienated home

Lay in bright peace? O thou true Eastern star!

Saviour! atoning Lord! where’er we roam,

Draw still our hearts to thee, else, else how vain

Their hope, the fair lost birthright to regain!


Not long thy voice amongst us may be heard,

Servant of God!—thy day is almost done;

The charm now lingering in thy look and word

Is that which hangs about thy setting sun—

That which the meekness of decay hath won

Still from revering love. Yet doth the sense

Of life immortal—progress but begun—

Pervade thy mien with such clear eloquence,

That hope, not sadness, breathes from thy decline;

And the loved flowers which round thee smile farewell

Of more than vernal glory seem to tell,

By thy pure spirit touch’d with light divine;

While we, to whom its parting gleams are given,

Forget the grave in trustful thoughts of heaven.


Oh! what a joy to feel that, in my breast,

The founts of childhood’s vernal fancies lay

Still pure, though heavily and long repress’d

By early-blighted leaves, which o’er their way

Dark summer-storms had heaped. But free, glad play

Once more was given them: to the sunshine’s glow,

And the sweet wood-song’s penetrating flow,

And to the wandering primrose-breath of May,

And the rich hawthorn-odours, forth they sprung.

Oh! not less freshly bright, that now a thought

Of spiritual presence o’er them hung,

And of immortal life! a germ, unwrought

In childhood’s soul to power—now strong, serene,

And full of love and light, colouring the whole blest scene.


Come forth, and let us through our hearts receive

The joy of verdure! See! the honey’d lime

Showers cool green light o’er banks where wild-flowers weave

Thick tapestry, and woodbine-tendrils climb

Up the brown oak from buds of moss and thyme.

The rich deep masses of the sycamore

Hang heavy with the fulness of their prime;

And the white poplar, from its foliage hoar,

Scatters forth gleams like moonlight, with each gale

That sweeps the boughs: the chestnut-flowers are past,

The crowning glories of the hawthorn fail,

But arches of sweet eglantine are cast

From every hedge. Oh! never may we lose,

Dear friend! our fresh delight in simplest nature’s hues!

2d June.


Father in heaven! from whom the simplest flower,

On the high Alps or fiery desert thrown,

Draws not sweet odour or young life alone,

But the deep virtue of an inborn power,

To cheer the wanderer in his fainting hour

With thoughts of Thee—to strengthen, to infuse

Faith, love, and courage, by the tender hues

That speak thy presence! oh, with such a dower

Grace thou my song!—the precious gift bestow

From thy pure Spirit’s treasury divine,

To wake one tear of purifying flow,

To soften one wrung heart for thee and thine;

So shall the life breathed through the lowly strain

Be as the meek wild-flower’s—if transient, yet not vain.


“What in me is dark,

Illumine; what is low, raise and support.”—Milton.

Far are the wings of intellect astray

That strive not, Father! to thy heavenly seat;

They rove, but mount not, and the tempests beat

Still on their plumes. O Source of mental day!

Chase from before my spirit’s track the array

Of mists and shadows, raised by earthly care,

In troubled hosts that cross the purer air,

And veil the opening of the starry way,

Which brightens on to thee! Oh, guide thou right

My thought’s weak pinion; clear my inward sight,

The eternal springs of beauty to discern,

Welling beside thy throne; unseal mine ear,

Nature’s true oracles in joy to hear;

Keep my soul wakeful still to listen and to learn.


Yes! all things tell us of a birthright lost—

A brightness from our nature pass’d away!

Wanderers we seem that from an alien coast

Would turn to where their Father’s mansion lay;

And but by some lone flower, that midst decay

Smiles mournfully, or by some sculptured stone,

Revealing dimly, with gray moss o’ergrown,

The faint, worn impress of its glory’s day,

Can trace their once-free heritage, though dreams,

Fraught with its picture, oft in startling gleams

Flash o’er their souls. But One, oh! One alone,

For us the ruin’d fabric may rebuild,

And bid the wilderness again be fill’d

With Eden-flowers—One mighty to atone!

27th June.



Once more the eternal melodies from far

Woo me like songs of home: once more discerning,

Through fitful clouds, the pure majestic star

Above the poet’s world serenely burning,

Thither my soul, fresh-wing’d by love, is turning,

As o’er the waves the wood-bird seeks her nest,

For those green heights of dewy stillness yearning,

Whence glorious minds o’erlook this earth’s unrest.

Now be the Spirit of heaven’s truth my guide

Through the bright land!—that no brief gladness, found

In passing bloom, rich odour, or sweet sound,

May lure my footsteps from their aim aside:

Their true, high quest—to seek, if ne’er to gain,

The inmost, purest shrine of that august domain.

9th September.


There are who climb the mountain’s heathery side,

Or, in life’s vernal strength triumphant, urge

The bark’s fleet rushing through the crested surge,

Or spur the courser’s fiery race of pride

Over the green savannahs, gleaming wide

By some vast lake; yet thus, on foaming sea,

Or chainless wild, reign far less nobly free

Than thou, in that lone dungeon, glorified

By thy brave suffering. Thou from its dark cell

Fierce thought and baleful passion didst exclude,

Filling the dedicated solitude

With God; and where His Spirit deigns to dwell,

Though the worn frame in fetters withering lie,

There throned in peace divine is liberty!


How flows thy being now?—like some glad hymn

One strain of solemn rapture?—doth thine eye

Wander through tears of voiceless feeling dim

O’er the crown’d Alps, that, midst the upper sky,

Sleep in the sunlight of thine Italy?

Or is thy gaze of reverent love profound

Unto these dear, parental faces bound,

Which, with their silvery hair, so oft glanced by,

Haunting thy prison-dreams? Where’er thou art,

Blessings be shed upon thine inmost heart!

Joy, from kind looks, blue skies, and flowery sod,

For that pure voice of thoughtful wisdom sent

Forth from thy cell, in sweetness eloquent

Of love to man, and quenchless trust in God!


’Twas a bright moment of my life when first,

O thou pure stream through rocky portals flowing!

That temple-chamber of thy glory burst

On my glad sight! Thy pebbly couch lay glowing

With deep mosaic hues; and, richly throwing

O’er thy cliff-walls a tinge of autumn’s vest,

High bloom’d the heath-flowers, and the wild wood’s crest

Was touch’d with gold. Flow ever thus, bestowing

Gifts of delight, sweet stream! on all who move

Gently along thy shores; and oh! if love—

True love, in secret nursed, with sorrow fraught—

Should sometimes bear his treasured griefs to thee,

Then full of kindness let thy music be,

Singing repose to every troubled thought!


Majestic plant! such fairy dreams as lie,

Nursed, where the bee sucks in the cowslip’s bell,

Are not thy train. Those flowers of vase-like swell,

Clear, large, with dewy moonlight fill’d from high,

And in their monumental purity

Serenely drooping, round thee seem to draw

Visions link’d strangely with that silent awe

Which broods o’er sculpture’s works. A meet ally

For those heroic forms, the simply grand

Art thou: and worthy, carved by plastic hand,

Above some kingly poet’s tomb to shine

In spotless marble; honouring one whose strain

Soar’d, upon wings of thought that knew no stain,

Free through the starry heavens of truth divine.



“Stop, Christian passer-by! stop, child of God!

And read with gentle breast:—Beneath this sod

A Poet lies, or that which once seem’d he:

Oh! lift one thought in prayer for S. T. C.!

That he, who once in vain, with toil of breath,

Found death in life, may here find life in death:

Mercy, for praise—to be forgiven, for fame—

He ask’d and hoped through Christ. Do thou the same.”

Spirit! so oft in radiant freedom soaring

High through seraphic mysteries unconfined,

And oft, a diver through the deep of mind,

Its caverns, far below its waves, exploring;

And oft such strains of breezy music pouring,

As, with the floating sweetness of their sighs,

Could still all fevers of the heart, restoring

Awhile that freshness left in Paradise;

Say, of those glorious wanderings what the goal?

What the rich fruitage to man’s kindred soul

From wealth of thine bequeathed? O strong and high,

And sceptred intellect! thy goal confess’d

Was the Redeemer’s Cross—thy last bequest

One lesson breathing thence profound humility!


They float before my soul, the fair designs

Which I would body forth to life and power,

Like clouds, that with their wavering hues and lines

Portray majestic buildings:—dome and tower,

Bright spire, that through the rainbow and the shower

Points to th’ unchanging stars; and high arcade,

Far-sweeping to some glorious altar, made

For holiest rites. Meanwhile the waning hour

Melts from me, and by fervent dreams o’erwrought,

I sink. O friend! O link’d with each high thought!

Aid me, of those rich visions to detain

All I may grasp; until thou see’st fulfill’d,

While time and strength allow, my hope to build

For lowly hearts devout, but one enduring fane!

18th October.


If e’er again my spirit be allow’d

Converse with Nature in her chambers deep,

Where lone, and mantled with the rolling cloud,

She broods o’er new-born waters, as they leap

In sword-like flashes down the heathery steep

From caves of mystery;—if I roam once more

Where dark pines quiver to the torrent’s roar,

And voiceful oaks respond;—may I not reap

A more ennobling joy, a loftier power,

Than e’er was shed on life’s more vernal hour

From such communion? Yes! I then shall know

That not in vain have sorrow, love, and thought

Their long, still work of preparation wrought,

For that more perfect sense of God reveal’d below.


Oft in still night-dreams a departed face

Bends o’er me with sweet earnestness of eye,

Wearing no more of earthly pains a trace,

But all the tender pity that may lie

On the clear brow of Immortality,

Calm, yet profound. Soft rays illume that mien;

Th’ unshadow’d moonlight of some far-off sky

Around it floats transparently serene

As a pure veil of waters. O rich Sleep!

The spells are mighty in thy regions deep,

To glorify with reconciling breath,

Effacing, brightening, giving forth to shine

Beauty’s high truth; and how much more divine

Thy power when link’d, in this, with thy strong brother—Death!


Nobly thy song, O minstrel! rush’d to meet

Th’ Eternal on the pathway of the blast,

With darkness round him as a mantle cast,

And cherubim to waft his flying seat.

Amidst the hills that smoked beneath his feet,

With trumpet-voice thy spirit call’d aloud,

And bade the trembling rocks his name repeat,

And the bent cedars, and the bursting cloud.

But far more gloriously to earth made known

By that high strain, than by the thunder’s tone,

The flashing torrents, or the ocean’s roll,

Jehovah spake, through thee imbreathing fire,

Nature’s vast realms for ever to inspire

With the deep worship of a living soul.


“Par correr miglior acqua alza le vele,

Omai la navicella del mio Intelletto.”—Dante.

My soul was mantled with dark shadows, born

Of lonely Fear, disquieted in vain;

Its phantoms hung around the star of morn,

A cloud-like, weeping train:

Thro’ the long day they dimm’d the autumn gold

On all the glistening leaves, and wildly roll’d,

When the last farewell flush of light was glowing

Across the sunset sky,

O’er its rich isles of vaporous glory throwing

One melancholy dye.

And when the solemn night

Came rushing with her might

Of stormy oracles from caves unknown,

Then with each fitful blast

Prophetic murmurs pass’d,

Wakening or answering some deep Sybil-tone

Far buried in my breast, yet prompt to rise

With every gusty wail that o’er the wind-harp flies.

“Fold, fold thy wings,” they cried, “and strive no more—

Faint spirit! strive no more: for thee too strong

Are outward ill and wrong,

And inward wasting fires! Thou canst not soar

Free on a starry way,

Beyond their blighting sway,

At heaven’s high gate serenely to adore!

How shouldst thou hope earth’s fetters to unbind!

O passionate, yet weak! O trembler to the wind!

“Never shall aught but broken music flow

From joy of thine, deep love, or tearful woe—

Such homeless notes as through the forest sigh,

From the reeds’ hollow shaken,

When sudden breezes waken

Their vague, wild symphony.

No power is theirs, and no abiding-place

In human hearts; their sweetness leaves no trace—

Born only so to die!

“Never shall aught but perfume, faint and vain,

On the fleet pinion of the changeful hour,

From thy bruised life again

A moment’s essence breathe;

Thy life, whose trampled flower

Into the blessed wreath

Of household-charities no longer bound,

Lies pale and withering on the barren ground.

“So fade, fade on! Thy gift of love shall cling

A coiling sadness round thy heart and brain—

A silent, fruitless, yet undying thing,

All sensitive to pain!

And still the shadow of vain dreams shall fall

O’er thy mind’s world, a daily darkening pall.

Fold, then, thy wounded wing, and sink subdued

In cold and unrepining quietude!”

Then my soul yielded: spells of numbing breath

Crept o’er it heavy with a dew of death—

Its powers, like leaves before the night-rain, closing;

And, as by conflict of wild sea-waves toss’d

On the chill bosom of some desert coast,

Mutely and hopelessly I lay reposing.

When silently it seem’d

As if a soft mist gleam’d

Before my passive sight, and, slowly curling,

To many a shape and hue

Of vision’d beauty grew,

Like a wrought banner, fold by fold unfurling.

Oh! the rich scenes that o’er mine inward eye

Unrolling then swept by

With dreamy motion! Silvery seas were there,

Lit by large dazzling stars, and arch’d by skies

Of southern midnight’s most transparent dyes;

And gemm’d with many an island, wildly fair,

Which floated past me into orient day,

Still gathering lustre on th’ illumin’d way,

Till its high groves of wondrous flowering-trees

Colour’d the silvery seas.

And then a glorious mountain-chain uprose,

Height above spiry height!

A soaring solitude of woods and snows,

All steep’d in golden light!

While as it pass’d, those regal peaks unveiling,

I heard, methought, a waving of dread wings,

And mighty sounds, as if the vision hailing,

From lyres that quiver’d through ten thousand strings—

Or as if waters, forth to music leaping

From many a cave, the Alpine Echo’s hall,

On their bold way victoriously were sweeping,

Link’d in majestic anthems!—while through all

That billowy swell and fall,

Voices, like ringing crystal, fill’d the air

With inarticulate melody, that stirr’d

My being’s core; then, moulding into word

Their piercing sweetness, bade me rise, and bear

In that great choral strain my trembling part,

Of tones by love and faith struck from a human heart.

Return no more, vain bodings of the night!

A happier oracle within my soul

Hath swell’d to power; a clear, unwavering light

Mounts through the battling clouds that round me roll;

And to a new control

Nature’s full harp gives forth rejoicing tones,

Wherein my glad sense owns

The accordant rush of elemental sound

To one consummate harmony profound—

One grand Creation-Hymn,

Whose notes the seraphim

Lift to the glorious height of music wing’d and crown’d.

Shall not those notes find echoes in my lyre,

Faithful though faint? Shall not my spirit’s fire,

If slowly, yet unswervingly, ascend

Now to its fount and end?

Shall not my earthly love, all purified,

Shine forth a heavenward guide,

An angel of bright power—and strongly bear

My being upward into holier air,

Where fiery passion-clouds have no abode,

And the sky’s temple-arch o’erflows with God?

The radiant hope new-born

Expands like rising morn

In my life’s life: and as a ripening rose

The crimson shadow of its glory throws

More vivid, hour by hour, on some pure stream;

So from that hope are spreading

Rich hues, o’er nature shedding

Each day a clearer, spiritual gleam.

Let not those rays fade from me!—once enjoy’d,

Father of Spirits! let them not depart—

Leaving the chill’d earth, without form and void,

Darken’d by mine own heart!

Lift, aid, sustain me! Thou, by whom alone

All lovely gifts and pure

In the soul’s grasp endure;

Thou, to the steps of whose eternal throne

All knowledge flows—a sea for evermore

Breaking its crested waves on that sole shore—

Oh, consecrate my life! that I may sing

Of thee with joy that hath a living spring,

In a full heart of music! Let my lays

Through the resounding mountains waft thy praise,

And with that theme the wood’s green cloisters fill.

And make their quivering, leafy dimness thrill

To the rich breeze of song! Oh! let me wake

The deep religion, which hath dwelt from yore

Silently brooding by lone cliff and lake,

And wildest river-shore!

And let me summon all the voices dwelling

Where eagles build, and cavern’d rills are welling,

And where the cataract’s organ-peal is swelling,

In that one spirit gather’d to adore!

Forgive, O Father! if presumptuous thought

Too daringly in aspiration rise!

Let not thy child all vainly have been taught

By weakness, and by wanderings, and by sighs

Of sad confession! Lowly be my heart,

And on its penitential altar spread

The offerings worthless, till thy grace impart

The fire from heaven, whose touch alone can shed

Life, radiance, virtue!—let that vital spark

Pierce my whole being, wilder’d else and dark!

Thine are all holy things—oh, make me thine!

So shall I, too, be pure—a living shrine

Unto that Spirit which goes forth from thee,

Strong and divinely free,

Bearing thy gifts of wisdom on its flight,

And brooding o’er them with a dove-like wing,

Till thought, word, song, to thee in worship spring,

Immortally endow’d for liberty and light.


I stand upon the threshold stone

Of mine ancestral hall;

I hear my native river moan;

I see the night o’er my old forests fall.

I look round on the darkening vale

That saw my childhood’s plays;

The low wind in its rising wail

Hath a strange tone, a sound of other days.

But I must rule my swelling breast:

A sign is in the sky!

Bright o’er yon gray rock’s eagle-nest

Shines forth a warning star—it bids me fly.

My father’s sword is in my hand,

His deep voice haunts mine ear;

He tells me of the noble band

Whose lives have left a brooding glory here.

He bids their offspring guard from stain

Their pure and lofty faith;

And yield up all things, to maintain

The cause for which they girt themselves to death.

And I obey. I leave their towers

Unto the stranger’s tread,

Unto the creeping grass and flowers,

Unto the fading pictures of the dead.

I leave their shields to slow decay,

Their banners to the dust:

I go, and only bear away

Their old majestic name—a solemn trust!

I go up to the ancient hills.

Where chains may never be,

Where leap in joy the torrent-rills,

Where man may worship God, alone and free.

There shall an altar and a camp

Impregnably arise;

There shall be lit a quenchless lamp,

To shine, unwavering, through the open skies.

And song shall midst the rocks be heard,

And fearless prayer ascend;

While, thrilling to God’s holy word,

The mountain-pines in adoration bend.

And there the burning heart no more

Its deep thought shall suppress,

But the long-buried truth shall pour

Free currents thence, amidst the wilderness.

Then fare thee well, my mother’s bower!

Farewell, my father’s hearth!—

Perish my home! where lawless power

Hath rent the tie of love to native earth.

Perish! let deathlike silence fall

Upon the lone abode;

Spread fast, dark ivy! spread thy pall;—

I go up to the mountains with my God.


By the blue waters—the restless ocean-waters,

Restless as they with their many-flashing surges,

Lonely I wander, weeping for my lost one!

I pine for thee through all the joyless day—

Through the long night I pine: the golden sun

Looks dim since thou hast left me, and the spring

Seems but to weep. Where art thou, my beloved?

Night after night, in fond hope vigilant,

By the old temple on the breezy cliff,

These hands have heap’d the watch-fire, till it stream’d

Red o’er the shining columns—darkly red

Along the crested billows!—but in vain:

Thy white sail comes not from the distant isles—

Yet thou wert faithful ever. Oh! the deep

Hath shut above thy head—that graceful head;

The sea-weed mingles with thy clustering locks;

The white sail never will bring back the loved!

By the blue waters—the restless ocean-waters,

Restless as they with their many-flashing surges,

Lonely I wander, weeping for my lost one!

Where art thou?—where? Had I but lingering press’d

On thy cold lips the last long kiss—but smooth’d

The parted ringlets of thy shining hair

With love’s fond touch, my heart’s cry had been still’d

Into a voiceless grief: I would have strew’d

With all the pale flowers of the vernal woods—

White violets, and the mournful hyacinth,

And frail anemone, thy marble brow,

In slumber beautiful! I would have heap’d

Sweet boughs and precious odours on thy pyre,

And with mine own shorn tresses hung thine urn,

And many a garland of the pallid rose:

Save the wild moaning of the wave, is thine:

No pyre—save, haply, some long-buried wreck;

Thou that wert fairest—thou that wert most loved!

By the blue waters—the restless ocean-waters,

Restless as they with their many-flashing surges,

Lonely I wander, weeping for my lost one!

Come, in the dreamy shadow of the night,

And speak to me! E’en though thy voice be changed,

My heart would know it still. Oh, speak to me!

And say if yet, in some dim, far-off world,

Which knows not how the festal sunshine burns,

If yet, in some pale mead of asphodel,

We two shall meet again! Oh, I would quit

The day rejoicingly—the rosy light—

All the rich flowers and fountains musical,

And sweet, familiar melodies of earth,

To dwell with thee below! Thou answerest not!

The powers whom I have call’d upon are mute:

The voices buried in old whispery caves,

And by lone river-sources, and amidst

The gloom and mystery of dark prophet-oaks,

The wood-gods’ haunt—they give me no reply!

All silent—heaven and earth! For evermore

From the deserted mountains thou art gone—

For ever from the melancholy groves,

Whose laurels wail thee with a shivering sound!

And I—I pine through all the joyous day,

Through the long night I pine—as fondly pines

The night’s own bird, dissolving her lorn life

To song in moonlight woods. Thou hear’st me not!

The heavens are pitiless of human tears:

The deep sea-darkness is about thy head;

The white sail never will bring back the loved!

By the blue waters—the restless ocean-waters,

Restless as they with their many-flashing surges,

Lonely I wander, weeping for my lost one!



O Thought! O Memory! gems for ever heaping

High in the illumined chambers of the mind—

And thou, divine Imagination! keeping

Thy lamp’s lone star mid shadowy hosts enshrined;

How in one moment rent and disentwined,

At Fever’s fiery touch, apart they fall,

Your glorious combinations! broken all,

As the sand-pillars by the desert’s wind

Scatter’d to whirling dust! Oh, soon uncrown’d!

Well may your parting swift, your strange return,

Subdue the soul to lowliness profound,

Guiding its chasten’d vision to discern

How by meek Faith heaven’s portals must be pass’d,

Ere it can hold your gifts inalienably fast.


Thou art like Night, O Sickness! deeply stilling

Within my heart the world’s disturbing sound,

And the dim quiet of my chamber filling

With low, sweet voices by Life’s tumult drown’d.

Thou art like awful Night! thou gatherest round

The things that are unseen—though close they lie;

And with a truth, clear, startling, and profound,

Giv’st their dread presence to our mental eye.

Thou art like starry, spiritual Night!

High and immortal thoughts attend thy way,

And revelations, which the common light

Brings not, though wakening with its rosy ray

All outward life:—Be welcome, then, thy rod,

Before whose touch my soul unfolds itself to God.


Well might thine awful image thus arise

With that high calm upon thy regal brow,

And the deep, solemn sweetness in those eyes,

Unto the glorious artist! Who but thou

The fleeting forms of beauty can endow

For him with permanence? who make those gleams

Of brighter life, that colour his lone dreams,

Immortal things? Let others trembling bow,

Angel of Death! before thee;—not to those

Whose spirits with Eternal Truth repose,

Art thou a fearful shape! And oh! for me,

How full of welcome would thine aspect shine,

Did not the cords of strong affection twine

So fast around my soul, it cannot spring to thee!


O Nature! thou didst rear me for thine own,

With thy free singing-birds and mountain-brooks;

Feeding my thoughts in primrose-haunted nooks,

With fairy fantasies and wood-dreams lone;

And thou didst teach me every wandering tone

Drawn from thy many-whispering trees and waves,

And guide my steps to founts and sparry caves,

And where bright mosses wove thee a rich throne

Midst the green hills: and now that, far estranged

From all sweet sounds and odours of thy breath,

Fading I lie, within my heart unchanged,

So glows the love of thee, that not for death

Seems that pure passion’s fervour—but ordain’d

To meet on brighter shores thy majesty unstain’d.


Whither, oh! whither wilt thou wing thy way?

What solemn region first upon thy sight

Shall break, unveil’d for terror or delight?

What hosts, magnificent in dread array,

My spirit! when thy prison-house of clay,

After long strife is rent? Fond, fruitless quest!

The unfledged bird, within his narrow nest,

Sees but a few green branches o’er him play,

And through their parting leaves, by fits reveal’d,

A glimpse of summer sky; nor knows the field

Wherein his dormant powers must yet be tried.

Thou art that bird!—of what beyond thee lies

Far in the untrack’d, immeasurable skies,

Knowing but this—that thou shalt find thy Guide?


Welcome, O pure and lovely forms! again

Unto the shadowy stillness of my room!

For not alone ye bring a joyous train

Of summer-thoughts attendant on your bloom—

Visions of freshness, of rich bowery gloom,

Of the low murmurs filling mossy dells,

Of stars that look down on your folded bells

Through dewy leaves, of many a wild perfume

Greeting the wanderer of the hill and grove

Like sudden music: more than this ye bring—

Far more; ye whisper of the all-fostering love

Which thus hath clothed you, and whose dove-like wing

Broods o’er the sufferer drawing fever’d breath,

Whether the couch be that of life or death.


Back, then, once more to breast the waves of life,

To battle on against the unceasing spray,

To sink o’erwearied in the stormy strife,

And rise to strive again; yet on my way,

Oh! linger still, thou light of better day!

Born in the hours of loneliness: and you,

Ye childlike thoughts! the holy and the true—

Ye that came bearing, while subdued I lay,

The faith, the insight of life’s vernal morn

Back on my soul, a clear, bright sense, new-born,

Now leave me not! but as, profoundly pure,

A blue stream rushes through a darker lake

Unchanged, e’en thus with me your journey take,

Wafting sweet airs of heaven thro’ this low world obscure.



How many blessed groups this hour are bending,

Thro’ England’s primrose meadow-paths, their way

Towards spire and tower, midst shadowy elms ascending,

Whence the sweet chimes proclaim the hallow’d day!

The halls from old heroic ages gray

Pour their fair children forth; and hamlets low,

With whose thick orchard-blooms the soft winds play,

Send out their inmates in a happy flow,

Like a freed vernal stream. I may not tread

With them those pathways—to the feverish bed

Of sickness bound; yet, O my God! I bless

Thy mercy, that with Sabbath-peace hath fill’d

My chasten’d heart, and all its throbbings still’d

To one deep calm of lowliest thankfulness!

26th April 1835.

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