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COMPOSITIONS resembling those here collected are
not unfrequently condemned for their querulous
Egotism. But Egotism is to be condemned then only
when it offends against time and place, as in a His-
tory or an Epic Poem. To censure it in a Monody
or Sonnet is almost as absurd as to dislike a circle
for being round. Why then write Sonnets or Mono-
dies? Because they give me pleasure when perhaps
nothing else could. After the more violent emotions
of Sorrow, the mind demands amusement, and can
find it in employment alone: but, full of its late suf-
ferings, it can endure no employment not in some
measure connected with them. Forcibly to turn
away our attention to general subjects is a painful
and most often an unavailing effort.
But O! how grateful to a wounded heart
The tale of Misery to impart-
From others' eyes bid artless sorrows flow,
And raise esteem upon the base of Woe!
Love and the wish of Poets when their tongue
Would teach to others' bosoms, what so charms
Pleasures of Imagination. There is one species of Egotism which is truly disgusting; not that which leads us to communicate our feelings to others but that which would reduce the feelings of others to an identity with our own. The Atheist, who exclaims "pshaw!" when he glances his eye on the praises of Deity, is an Egotist: an old man, when he speaks contemptuously of Loveverses, is an Egotist: and the sleek Favorites of Fortune are Egotists, when they condemn all "melancholy, discontented" verses. Surely, it would be candid not merely to ask whether the poem pleases ourselves, but to consider whether or no there may not be others, to whom it is well calculated to give an innocent pleasure.
The communicativeness of our Nature leads us to describe our own sorrows; in the endeavor to deI shall only add, that each of my readers will, I scribe them, intellectual activity is exerted; and hope, remember, that these Poems on various subfrom intellectual activity there results a pleasure, jects, which he reads at one time and under the inwhich is gradually associated, and mingles as a cor- fluence of one set of feelings, were written at differrective, with the painful subject of the description. ent times and prompted by very different feelings; -True!" (it may be answered) "but how are the PUBLIC interested in your sorrows or your Description?" We are for ever attributing personal Unities to imaginary Aggregates. What is the PUBLIC, but a term for a number of scattered individuals? of whom as many will be interested in these sorrows, as have experienced the same or similar.
and therefore that the supposed inferiority of one Poem to another may sometimes be owing to the temper of mind in which he happens to peruse it.
My poems have been rightly charged with a pro fusion of double-epithets, and a general turgidness I have pruned the double-epithets with no sparing hand; and used my best efforts to tame the swell and glitter both of thought and diction.* This latter
* Without any feeling of anger, I may yet be allowed to
Which mourning soothes the mourner on his way. If I could judge of others by myself, I should not hesitate to affirm, that the most interesting passages are those in which the Author develops his own express some degree of surprise, that after having run the feelings? The sweet voice of Cona* never sounds a too ornate and elaborately poetic diction, and nothing havcritical gauntlet for a certain class of faults, which I had, viz. so sweetly, as when it speaks of itself; and I should ing come before the judgment-seat of the Reviewers during almost suspect that man of an unkindly heart, who could read the opening of the third book of the Paradise Lost without peculiar emotion. By a Law of our Nature, he, who labors under a strong feeling, is
the long interval, I should for at least seventeen years, quarter after quarter, have been placed by them in the foremost rank of the proscribed, and made to abide the brunt of abuse and
ridicule for faults directly opposite, viz. bald and prosaic language, and an affected simplicity both of matter and manner -faults which assuredly did not enter into the character of my compositions.-Literary Life, i. 51. Published 1817
And when thou lovest thy pale orb to shroud
Behind the gather'd blackness lost on high;
And when thou dartest from the wind-rent cloud
Thy placid lightning o'er the awaken'd sky
Ah such is Hope' as changeful and as fair!
Now dimly peering on the wistful sight;
Now hid behind the dragon-wing'd Despair ·
But soon emerging in her radiant might,
She o'er the sorrow-clouded breast of Care
Sails, like a meteor kindling in its flight.
TIME, REAL AND IMAGINARY.
fault however had insinuated itself into my Religious Musings with such intricacy of union, that sometimes I have omitted to disentangle the weed from the fear of snapping the flower. A third and heavier accusation has been brought against me, that of obscurity; but not, I think, with equal justice. An Author is obscure, when his conceptions are dim and imperfect, and his language incorrect, or unappropriate, or involved. A poem that abounds in allusions, like the Bard of Gray, or one that impersonates high and abstract truths, like Collins's Ode on the poetical character, claims not to be popularbut should be acquitted of obscurity. The deficiency is in the Reader. But this is a charge which every poet, whose imagination is warm and rapid, must expect from his contemporaries. Milton did not escape it; and it was adduced with virulence against Gray and Collins. We now hear no more of it: not that their poems are better understood at present, than they were at their first publication; but their fame is established; and a critic would accuse himself of frigidity or inattention, who should profess not to understand them. But a living writer is yet sub judice; and if we cannot follow his conceptions or enter into his feelings, it is more consoling to our pride to consider him as lost beneath, than as soaring above us. If any man expect from my poems the O'er rough and smooth with even step he pass'd, same easiness of style which he admires in a drink- And knows not whether he be first or last. ing-song, for him I have not written. Intelligibilia,
I expect neither profit nor general fame by my writings; and I consider myself as having been amply repaid without either. Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward:" it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude: and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the Good and the Beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me. S. T. C.
MAID of my Love, sweet Genevieve!
In beauty's light you glide along :
Your eye is like the star of eve,
And sweet your voice, as seraph's song.
Yet not your heavenly beauty gives
This heart with passion soft to glow:
Within your soul a voice there lives!
It bids you hear the tale of woe.
When sinking low the sufferer wan
Beholds no hand outstretch'd to save,
Fair, as the bosom of the swan
That rises graceful o'er the wave,
I've seen your breast with pity heave,
And therefore love I you, sweet Genevieve!
MILD Splendor of the various-vested Night!
Mother of wildly-working visions! hail!
I watch thy gliding, while with watery light
Thy weak eye glimmers through a fleecy veil ;
ON the wide level of a mountain's head
(I knew not where, but 't was some faery place
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,
A sister and a brother!
This far outstript the other;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind:
For he, alas! is blind!
MONODY ON THE DEATH OF
O WHAT a wonder seems the fear of death,
Seeing how gladly we all sink to sleep,
Babes, Children, Youths and Men,
Night following night for threescore years and ter
But doubly strange, where life is but a breath
To sigh and pant with, up Want's rugged steep.
Away, Grim Phantom! Scorpion King, away
Reserve thy terrors and thy stings display
For coward Wealth and Guilt in robes of state
Lo! by the grave I stand of one, for whom
A prodigal Nature and a niggard Doom
(That all bestowing, this withholding all)
Made each chance knell from distant spire or dome
Sound like a seeking Mother's anxious call,
Return, poor Child! Home, weary Truant, home!
Thee, Chatterton! these unblest stones protect
From want, and the bleak freezings of neglect.
Too long before the vexing Storm-blast driven,
Here hast thou found repose! beneath this sod!
Thou! O vain word! thou dwell'st not with the clod
Amid the shining Host of the Forgiven
Thou at the throne of Mercy and thy God
The triumph of redeeming Love dost hymn
(Believe it, O my soul!) to harps of Seraphim.
Yet oft, perforce ('t is suffering Nature's call,)
I weep, that heaven-born Genius so shall fall;
And oft, in Fancy's saddest hour, my soul
Averted shudders at the poison'd bowl.
Now groans my sickening heart, as still I view
Thy corse of livid hue;
Now indignation checks the feeble sigh,
Or flashes through the tear that glistens in mine eye
Is this the land of song-ennobled line?
Is this the land, where Genius ne'er in vain
Pour'd forth his lofty strain?
Ah me! yet Spenser, gentlest bard divine,
Beneath chill Disappointment's shade
Ha weary limbs in lonely anguish laid.
And o'er her darling dead
Pity hopeless hurg her head,
While " 'mid the pelting of that merciless storm," Sunk to the cold earth Otway's famish'd form!
Sublime of thought, and confident of fame,
From vales where Avon winds, the Minstrel* came.
Light-hearted youth! aye, as he hastes along,
He meditates the future song,
How dauntless Ella fray'd the Dacian foe;
And while the numbers flowing strong
In eddies whirl, in surges throng,
Exulting in the spirits' genial throe,
In tides of power his life-blood seems to flow.
And now his cheeks with deeper ardors flame,
His eyes have glorious meanings, that declare
More than the light of outward day shines there,
A holier triumph and a sterner aim!
Wings grow within him; and he soars above
Or Bard's, or Minstrel's lay of war or love.
Friend to the friendless, to the Sufferer health,
He hears the widow's prayer, the good man's praise;
To scenes of bliss transmutes his fancied wealth,
And young and old shall now see happy days.
On many a waste he bids trim gardens rise,
Gives the blue sky to many a prisoner's eyes;
And now in wrath he grasps the patriot steel,
And her own iron rod he makes Oppression feel.
But that Despair and Indignation rose,
And told again the story of thy woes;
Told the keen insult of the unfeeling heart;
The dread dependence on the low-born mind;
Told every pang, with which thy soul must smart,
Neglect, and grinning Scorn, and Want combined!
Recoiling quick, thou bad'st the friend of pain
Roll the black tide of Death through every freezing
Ye woods! that wave o'er Avon's rocky steep,
To Fancy's ear sweet is your murmuring deep!
For here she loves the cypress wreath to weave,
Watching, with wistful eye, the saddening tints of eve
Here, far from men, amid this pathless grove,
In solemn thought the Minstrel wont to rove,
Like star-beam on the slow sequester'd tide
Lone-glittering, through the high tree branching wide
And here, in Inspiration's eager hour,
When most the big soul feels the mastering power,
These wilds, these caverns roaming o'er,
Round which the screaming sea-gul's soar,
With wild unequal steps he pass'd along,
Oft pouring on the winds a broken song:
Anon, upon some rough rock's fearful brow
Would pause abrupt-and gaze upon the waves
Poor Chatterton! farewell! of darkest hues
This chaplet cast I on thy unshaped tomb;
But dare no longer on the sad theme muse,
Lest kindred woes persuade a kindred doom:
For oh! big gall-drops, shook from Folly's wing,
Have blacken'd the fair promise of my spring;
Sweet Flower of Hope! free Nature's genial child! And the stern Fate transpierced with viewless dart
That didst so fair disclose thy early bloom,
Filling the wide air with a rich perfume!
For thee in vain all heavenly aspects smiled;
From the hard world brief respite could they win-
The frost nipp'd sharp without, the canker prey'd
Ah' where are fled the charms of vernal Grace,
Awd Joy's wild gleams that lighten'd o'er thy face?
Youth of tumultuous soul, and haggard eye!
Thy wasted form, thy hurried steps, I view,
On thy wan forehead starts the lethal dew,
And oh! the anguish of that shuddering sigh!
Such were the struggles of the gloomy hour, When Care, of wither'd brow, Prepar'd the poison's death-cold power: Already to thy lips was raised the bowl, When near thee stood Affection meek
(Her bosom bare, and wildly pale her cheek,) Thy sullen gaze she bade thee roll
On scenes that well might melt thy soul; Thy native cot she flash'd upon thy view, Thy native cot, where still, at close of day, face smiling sate, and listen'd to thy lay; Thy Sester's shrieks she bade thee hear, And mark thy Mother's thrilling tear;
See, see her breast's convulsive throe, Her silent agony of woe! Ah! dash the poison'd chalice from thy hand! And thou hadst dash'd it, at her soft command, * Avon, a river near Bristol; the birth-place of Chatterton.
The last pale Hope that shiver'd at my heart!
Hence, gloomy thoughts! no more my soul sha dwell
On joys that were! No more endure to weigh
The shame and anguish of the evil day,
Sublime of Hope I seek the cottaged dell,
Wisely forgetful! O'er the ocean swell
Where Virtue calm with careless step may stray
And, dancing to the moon-light roundelay,
The wizard Passions weave a holy spell!
O Chatterton! that thou wert yet alive!
Sure thou wouldst spread the canvas to the gale
And love with us the tinkling team to drive
O'er peaceful Freedom's undivided dale;
And we, at sober eve, would round thee throng,
Hanging, enraptured, on thy stately song!
And greet with smiles the young-eyed Poesy
All defily mask'd, as hoar Antiquity.
Alas vain Phantasies! the fleeting brood
Of Woe self-solaced in her dreamy mood!
Yet will I love to follow the sweet dream,
Where Susquehannah pours his untamed stream
And on some hill, whose forest-frowning side
Waves o'er the murmurs of his calmer tide
Will raise a solemn Cenotaph to thee,
Sweet Harper of time-shrouded Minstrelsy!
And there, soothed sadly by the dirgeful wind,
Muse on the sore ills I had left behind
O'er his hush'd soul our soothing witcheries shed,
And twine our faery garlands round his head.
When Evening's dusky car,
Crown'd with her dewy star,
The Pixies, in the superstition of Devonshire, are a race of
beings invisibly small, and harmless or friendly to man. At a
Ball distance from a village in that county, half-way up a
wood-covered hill, is an excavation called the Pixies' Parlor. Steals o'er the fading sky in shadowy flight
The roots of old trees form its ceiling; and on its sides are
innumerable ciphers, among which the author discovered his
own cipher and those of his brothers, cut by the hand of their
childhood. At the foot of the hill flows the river Otter.
To this place the Author conducted a party of young Ladies, during the Summer months of the year 1793; one of whom, of stature elegantly small, and of complexion colorless yet clear, was proclaimed the Faery Queen. On which occasion the following irregular Ode was written.
WHOм the untaught Shepherds call
Pixies in their madrigal,
Fancy's children, here we dwell:
Welcome, Ladies! to our cell.
Here the wren of softest note
Builds its nest and warbles well;
Here the blackbird strains his throat;
Welcome, Ladies! to our cell.
When fades the moon all shadowy-pale,
And scuds the cloud before the gale,
Ere Morn with living gems bedight
Purples the East with streaky light,
We sip the furze-flower's fragrant dews
Clad in robes of rainbow hues :
Or sport amid the rosy gleam,
Soothed by the distant-tinkling team,
While lusty Labor scouting sorrow
Bids the Dame a glad good-morrow,
Who jogs the accustom'd road along,
And paces cheery to her cheering song.
But not our filmy pinion
We scorch amid the blaze of day,
When Noontide's fiery-tressed minion
Flashes the fervid ray.
Aye from the sultry heat
We to the cave retreat
O'ercanopied by huge roots intertwined
With wildest texture, blacken'd o'er with age:
Round them their mantle green the ivies bind,
Beneath whose foliage pale,
Fann'd by the unfrequent gale,
We shield us from the Tyrant's mid-day rage.
Thither, while the murmuring throng
Of wild-bees hum their drowsy song,
By Indolence and Fancy brought,
A youthful Bard, "unknown to Fame,"
Wooes the Queen of Solemn Thought,
And heaves the gentle misery of a sigh,
Gazing with tearful eye,
As round our sandy grot appear
Many a rudely-sculptured name
To pensive Memory dear!
Weaving gay dreams of sunny-tinctured hue,
We glance before his view:
On leaves of aspen trees
We tremble to the breeze,
Veil'd from the grosser ken of mortal sight
Or, haply, at the visionary hour,
Along our wildly-bower'd sequester'd walk,
We listen to the enamour'd rustic's talk;
Heave with the heavings of the maiden's breast,
Where young-eyed Loves have built their turtle
Or guide of soul-subduing power
The electric flash, that from the melting eye
Darts the fond question and the soft reply.
Or through the mystic ringlets of the vale
We flash our faery feet in gamesome prank,
Or, silent-sandall'd, pay our defier court
Circling the Spirit of the Western Gale,
Where wearied with his flower-caressing sport
Supine he slumbers on a violet bank;
Then with quaint music hymn the parting gleam
By lonely Otter's sleep-persuading stream;
Or where his waves with loud unquiet song
Dash'd o'er the rocky channel froth along
Or where, his silver waters smoothed to rest,
The tall tree's shadow sleeps upon his breast.
Hence, thou lingerer, Light!
Eve saddens into Night.
Mother of wildly-working dreams! we view.
The sombre hours, that round thee stand
With downcast eyes (a duteous band!)
Their dark robes dripping with the heavy dew
Sorceress of the ebon throne!
Thy power the Pixies own,
When round thy raven brow
Heaven's lucent roses glow,
And clouds, in watery colors drest,
Float in light drapery o'er thy sable vest:
What time the pale moon sheds a softer day,
Mellowing the woods beneath its pensive beam:
For mid the quivering light 't is ours to play,
Aye dancing to the cadence of the stream.
Welcome, Ladies! to the cell
Where the blameless Pixies dwell:
But thou, sweet Nymph! proclaim'd our Faery
With what obeisance meet
Thy presence shall we greet?
For lo! attendant on thy steps are seen
Graceful Ease in artless stole,
And white-robed Purity of soul,
With Honor's softer mien;
Mirth of the loosely-flowing hair,
And meek-eyed Pity eloquentiy fair,
Whose tearful checks are lovely to the view
As snow-drop wet with dew.
Unboastful maid! though now the Lily pale
Transparent grace thy beauties meek;
Yet ere again along the empurpling vale,
The purpling vale and elfin-haunted grove,
Young Zephyr his fresh flowers profusely throws,
We'll tinge with livelier hues thy cheek;
And haply, from the nectar-breathing Rose
Extract a blush for love!
A CHRISTMAS TALE, TOLD BY A SCHOOL-BOY TO HIS LITTLE BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
UNDERNEATH a huge oak tree
There was, of swine, a huge company,
That grunted as they crunch'd the mast:
For that was ripe, and fell full fast.
Then they trotted away, for the wind grew high:
One acorn they left, and no more might you spy.
Next came a raven, that liked not such folly:
He belong d, they did say, to the witch Melancholy!
Blacker was he than blackest jet,
Flew low in the rain, and his feathers not wet.
He pick'd up the acorn and buried it straight
By the side of a river both deep and great.
Where then did the Raven go?
He went high and low,
Over hill, over dale, did the black Raven go.
Many Autumns, many Springs
Travell'd he with wandering wings:
Many Summers, many Winters-
I can't tell half his adventures.
At length he came back, and with him a She,
And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.
They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
And young ones they had, and were happy enow.
But soon came a woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He'd an ax in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor Raven's own oak.
His young ones were kill'd; for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.
The boughs from the trunk the woodman did sever; And they floated it down on the course of the river. They saw'd it in planks, and its bark they did strip, And with this tree and others they made a good ship. The ship it was launch'd; but in sight of the land Such a storm there did rise as no ship could withstand.
It bulged on a rock, and the waves rush'd in fast: The old Raven flew round and round, and caw'd to the blast.
He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls--
See! see! o'er the topmast the mad water rolls!
Right glad was the Raven, and off he went fleet,
And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet,
And he thank'd him again and again for this treat:
They had taken his all, and Revenge was sweet!
A FAREWELL ODE ON QUITTING SCHOOL FOR JESUS
WHERE graced with many a classic spoil
Cam rolls his reverend stream along,
I haste to urge the learned toil
That sternly chides my lovelorn song:
Ah me! too mindful of the days
Illumed by Passion's orient rays,
When Peace, and Cheerfulness, and Health Enrich'd me with the best of wealth.
Ah fair delights! that o'er my soul
On Memory's wing, like shadows fly!
Ah Flowers! which Joy from Eden stole
While Innocence stood smiling by!-
But cease, fond heart! this bootless moan:
Those hours on rapid pinions flown
Shall yet return, by Absence crown'd
And scatter lovelier roses round.
The Sun who ne'er remits his fires
On heedless eyes may pour the day:
The Moon, that oft from Heaven retires,
Endears her renovated ray.
What though she leaves the sky unblest
To mourn awhile in murky vest?
When she relumes her lovely light,
We bless the wanderer of the night.
LINES ON AN AUTUMNAL EVENING.
O THOU, Wild Fancy, check thy wing! No more
Those thin white flakes, those purple clouds explore.
Nor there with happy spirits speed thy flight
Bathed in rich amber-glowing floods of light;
Nor in yon gleam, where slow descends the day,
With western peasants hail the morning ray!
Ah! rather bid the perish'd pleasures move,
A shadowy train, across the soul of Love!
O'er Disappointment's wintry desert fling
Each flower that wreathed the dewy locks of Spring
When blushing, like a bride, from Hope's trim
She leap'd, awaken'd by the pattering shower.
Now sheds the sinking Sun a deeper gleam,
Aid, lovely Sorceress! aid thy poet's dream!
With fairy wand O bid the Maid arise,
Chaste Joyance dancing in her bright-blue eyes;
As erst when from the Muses' calm abode
I came, with Learning's meed not unbestow'd;
When as she twined a laurel round my brow,
And met my kiss, and half return'd my vow,
O'er all my frame shot rapid my thrill'd heart,
And every nerve confess'd th' electric dart.
O dear deceit! I see the Maiden rise,
Chaste Joyance dancing in her bright-blue eyes!
When first the lark, lugh soaring, swells his throat,
Mocks the tired eye, and scatters the wild note,
I trace her footsteps on the acc istom'd lawn,
I mark her glancing 'mid the gleam of dawn.
When the bent flower beneath the night-dew weeps
And on the lake the silver lustre sleeps,