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TO THE LADY MARY LOWTHER,
WITH A SELECTION FROM THE POEMS OF ANNE, COUNTESS OF WINCHELSEA ; AND EXTRACTS OF SIMILAR CHARACTER FROM OTHER WRITERS; TRANSCRIBED BY A FEMALE FRIEND.
LADY! I rifled a Parnassian Cave
(But seldom trod) of mildly-gleaming ore;
And culled, from sundry beds, a lucid store
Of genuine crystals, pure as those that pave
The azure brooks where Dian joys to lave
Her spotless limbs; and ventured to explore
Dim shades for reliques, upon Lethe's shore,
Cast up at random by the sullen wave.
To female hands the treasures were resigned;
And lo this Work!
a grotto bright and clear
From stain or taint; in which thy blameless mind
May feed on thoughts though pensive not austere;
Or, if thy deeper spirit be inclined
To holy musing, it may enter here.
THERE is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only Poets know; -'twas rightly said;
Whom could the Muses else allure to tread
Their smoothest paths, to wear their lightest chains ?
When happiest Fancy has inspired the Strains,
How oft the malice of one luckless word
Pursues the Enthusiast to the social board,
Haunts him belated on the silent plains!
Yet he repines not, if his thought stand clear,
At last, of hinderance and obscurity, '
Fresh as the Star that crowns the brow of Morn;
Bright, speckless, as a softly-moulded tear
The moment it has left the Virgin's eye,
Or rain-drop lingering on the pointed Thorn.
THE Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little Cloud, in ether spread,
And penetrated all with tender light,
She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
dazzling the Beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right,
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparagèd.
Meanwhile that Veil, removed or thrown aside,
Went, floating from her, darkening as it went;
And a huge Mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament;
Who meekly yields, and is obscured;
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.
HAIL, Twilight, sovereign of one peaceful hour!
Not dull art Thou as undiscerning Night;
But studious only to remove from sight
Day's mutable distinctions. Ancient Power!
Thus did the waters gleam, the mountains lower,
To the rude Briton, when, in wolf-skin vest
Here roving wild, he laid him down to rest
On the bare rock, or through a leafy bower
Looked ere his eyes were closed. By him was seen
The self-same Vision which we now behold,
At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power! brought forth;
These mighty barriers, and the gulf between;
The floods, - the stars, a spectacle as old
As the beginning of the heavens and earth!
WITH how sad steps, O Moon, thou climbest the sky,
How silently, and with how wan a face!*
Where art thou? Thou whom I have seen on high
Running among the clouds a wood-nymph's race!
Unhappy Nuns, whose common breath's a sigh
Which they would stifle, move at such a pace!
The northern Wind, to call thee to the chase,
Must blow to-night his bugle horn. Had I
The power of Merlin, Goddess! this should be:
And the keen Stars, fast as the clouds were riven,
Should sally forth, an emulous Company,
All hurrying with thee through the clear blue heaven;
But, Cynthia! should to thee the palm be given,
Queen both for beauty and for majesty.
EVEN as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a black recess
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless:
The Lake below reflects it not; the sky,
Muffled in clouds, affords no company
To mitigate and cheer its loneliness.
Yet, round the body of that joyless Thing
Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated in domestic ring
A gay society with faces bright,
Conversing, reading, laughing;
While hearts and voices in the song unite.
From a Sonnet of Sir Philip Sidney.
MARK the concentred Hazels that enclose
Yon old grey Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns : and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows
Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,
In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains.
Live, ye Trees!
And Thou, grey Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chamber where the Mighty sleep:
For more than Fancy to the influence bends
When solitary Nature condescends
To mimic Time's forlorn humanities.
"As the cold aspect of a sunless way
Strikes through the Traveller's frame with deadlier chill, Oft as appears a grove, or obvious hill,
Glistening with unparticipated ray,
Or shining slope where he must never stray;
So joys, remembered without wish or will,
Sharpen the keenest edge of present ill,
On the crushed heart a heavier burthen lay.
Just Heaven, contract the compass of my
To fit proportion with my altered state!
Quench those felicities whose light I find
Reflected in my bosom all too late! -
O be my spirit, like my thraldom, strait;
And, like mine eyes that stream with sorrow, blind!"
BROOK! whose society the Poet seeks,
Intent his wasted spirits to renew;
And whom the curious Painter doth pursue
Through rocky passes, among flowery creeks,
And tracks thee dancing down thy water-breaks;
If wish were mine some type of thee to view,
Thee, and not thee thyself, I would not do
Like Grecian Artists, give thee human cheeks,
Channels for tears; no Naiad should'st thou be,
Have neither limbs, feet, feathers, joints nor hairs:
It seems the Eternal Soul is clothed in thee
With purer robes than those of flesh and blood,
And hath bestowed on thee a better good;
Unwearied joy, and life without its cares.
XIX.- COMPOSED ON THE BANKS OF A ROCKY STREAM.
DOGMATIC Teachers, of the snow-white fur!
Ye wrangling Schoolmen, of the scarlet hood!
Who, with a keenness not to be withstood,
Press the point home,—or falter and demur,
Checked in your course by many a teasing burr;
These natural council-seats your acrid blood
Might cool; and, as the Genius of the flood
Stoops willingly to animate and spur
Each lighter function slumbering in the brain,
Yon eddying balls of foam these arrowy gleams,
That o'er the pavement of the surging streams
Welter and flash. -a synod might detain
With subtle speculations, haply vain,
But surely less so than your far-fetched themes!