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And from the gate the Pilgrim turned,1
To seek such covert as the field

Or heath-besprinkled copse might yield,
Or lofty 2 wood, shower-proof.

He paced along; and, pensively,

Halting beneath a shady tree,

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Whose moss-grown root might serve for couch or seat, Fixed on a Star his upward eye;

Then, from the tenant of the sky

He turned, and watched with kindred look,
A Glow-worm, in a dusky nook,
Apparent at his feet.

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The murmur of a neighbouring stream
Induced a soft and slumbrous dream,

A pregnant dream, within whose shadowy bounds
He recognised the earth-born Star,

And That which glittered from afar ; 3

And (strange to witness!) from the frame
Of the ethereal Orb, there came

Intelligible sounds.

Much did it taunt the humble Light 4

That now, when day was fled, and night

Hushed the dark earth, fast closing weary eyes,5

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A very reptile could presume
To show her taper in the gloom,
As if in rivalship with One
Who sate a ruler on his throne
Erected in the skies.

"Exalted Star!" the Worm replied,
"Abate this unbecoming pride,

;

Or with a less uneasy lustre shine
Thou shrink'st as momently thy rays
Are mastered by the breathing haze ;
While neither mist, nor thickest cloud
That shapes in heaven its murky shroud,
Hath power to injure mine.

But not for this do I aspire

To match the spark of local fire,

That at my will burns on the dewy lawn,

With thy acknowledged glories ;-No!

Yet, thus upbraided, I may show 2
What favours do attend me here,
Till, like thyself, I disappear

Before the purple dawn."

When this in modest guise was said,
Across the welkin seemed to spread

A boding sound-for aught but sleep unfit !
Hills quaked, the rivers backward ran ;
That Star, so proud of late, looked wan;
And reeled with visionary stir

In the blue depth, like Lucifer
Cast headlong to the pit!

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Fire raged and, when the spangled floor

Of ancient ether was no more,

New heavens succeeded, by the dream brought forth :

And all the happy Souls that rode

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Transfigured through that fresh 1 abode
Had heretofore, in humble trust,
Shone meekly 'mid their native dust,
The Glow-worms of the earth!

This knowledge, from an Angel's voice
Proceeding, made the heart rejoice
Of Him who slept upon the open lea :
Waking at morn he murmured not;
And, till life's journey closed, the spot
Was to the Pilgrim's soul endeared,

Where by that 2 dream he had been cheered
Beneath the shady tree.

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INSCRIPTIONS SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A HERMIT'S CELL

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1818

Composed 1818.-Published 1820

The five poems which follow were placed among the Inscriptions," from 1820 onwards. —ED.

I

HOPES, WHAT ARE THEY?-BEADS OF MORNING"

1 1820.

2 1820.

HOPES, what are they?——Beads of morning

Strung on slender 3 blades of grass;

fair abode

this

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Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.1

What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm 2 where harm is not;
And deluding the unwary

Till the fatal bolt is shot!

3

What is glory?—in the socket
See how dying tapers fare!

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IO

What is pride?—a whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.

What is friendship?—do not trust her,
Nor the vows which she has made;
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From a palsy-shaken head.

What is truth?—a staff rejected; 4
Duty?—an unwelcome clog;
Joy?

-a moon by fits reflected 5
In a swamp or watery bog; 6

Bright, as if through ether steering,7
To the Traveller's eye it shone:
He hath hailed it re-appearing—
And as quickly it is gone;

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Such is Joy as quickly hidden,1
Or mis-shapen to the sight,
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.2

What is youth ?- -a dancing billow,
(Winds behind, and rocks before ! )3
Age?a drooping, tottering willow
On a flat and lazy shore.4

What is peace?—when pain is over,
And love ceases to rebel,
Let the last faint sigh discover
That precedes the passing knell !

Compare Carlyle's Cui Bono

What is Hope? A smiling rainbow
Children follow through the wet;
'Tis not here, still yonder, yonder :
Never urchin found it yet.

What is Life? A thawing iceboard
On a sea with sunny shore ;-
Gay we sail; it melts beneath us;
We are sunk, and seen no more.

What is Man? A foolish baby,

Vainly strives, and fights, and frets;

1 1837.

Gone, as if for ever hidden,

2 1820.

Bright, as if through ether steering,
Not a moment past it shone ;

Can we trust its reappearing?
No, 'tis dim, mis-shapen, gone.

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1820.

MS.

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