Imágenes de páginas

The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail,
While yet a Child, with a Child's eagerness,
Incessantly to turn his ear and eye

On all things which the moving seasons brough
To feed such appetite: nor this alone
Appeased his yearning: in the after day
Of Boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn,
And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags,
He sate, and even in their fixed lineaments,
Or from the power of a peculiar eye,
Or by creative feeling overborne,
Or by predominance of thought oppressed,
Even in their fixed and steady lineaments
He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind,
Expression ever varying!

Thus informed,

He had small need of books; for many a Tale
Traditionary, round the mountains hung,
And many a Legend, peopling the dark woods,
Nourished Imagination in her growth,
And gave the Mind that apprehensive power
By which she is made quick to recognize
The moral properties and scope of things.
But eagerly he read, and read again,
Whate'er the Minister's old Shelf supplied;
The life and death of Martyrs, who sustained,
With will inflexible, those fearful pangs
Triumphantly displayed in records left
Of Persecution, and the Covenant — times
Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour!
And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved
A straggling volume, torn and incomplete,
That left half-told the preternatural tale -
Romance of Giants, chronicle of Fiends,

Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts

Strange and uncouth; dire faces, figures dire,
Sharp-knee'd, sharp-elbow'd, and lean-ankled too.
With long and ghostly shanks-forms which once seen
Could never be forgotten!

In his heart,

Where Fear sate thus, a cherished visitant,
Was wanting yet the pure delight of love
By sound diffused, or by the breathing air,
Or by the silent looks of happy things,
Or flowing from the universal face

Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power
Of Nature, and already was prepared,

By his intense conceptions, to receive
Deeply the lesson deep of love which he
Whom Nature, by whatever means, has taught
To feel intensely, cannot but receive.

Such was the Boy-but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth

And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay

In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touched
And in their silent faces did he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form,
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live: they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,

Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him; it was blessedness and love!

A Herdsman on the lonely mountain tops,
Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Was his existence oftentimes possessed.
O then how beautiful, how bright appeared
The written Promise! Early had he learned
To reverence the volume that displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die;
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
All things, responsive to the Writing, there
Breathed immortality, revolving life,
And greatness still revolving; infinite;
There littleness was not; the least of things
Seemed infinite; and there his spirit shaped
Her prospects; nor did he believe he saw.
What wonder if his being thus became
Sublime and comprehensive! Low desires,
Low thoughts had there no place; yet was his neart
Lowly; for he was meek in gratitude,

Oft as he called those ecstacies to mind,

And whence they flowed; and from them he acquired
Wisdom, which works thro' patience; thence he learn'd,
In oft-recurring hours of sober thought,

To look on Nature with a humble heart
Self-questioned where it did not understand,
And with a superstitious eye of love.

So passed the time; yet to the nearest Town
He duly went with what small overplus

His earnings might supply, and brought away
The Book that most had tempted his desires
While at the stall he read. Among the hills
He gazed upon that mighty Orb of Song,
The divine Milton. Lore of different kind,
The annual savings of a toilsome life,
His Schoolmaster supplied; books that explain
The purer elements of truth involved

In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe,
(Especially perceived where Nature droops
And feeling is suppressed,) preserve the mind
Busy in solitude and poverty.

These occupations oftentimes deceived

The listless hours, while in the hollow vale,
Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf
In pensive idleness. What could he do,
Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life,
With blind endeavors? Yet, still uppermost,
Nature was at his heart, as if he felt,

Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power
In all things that from her sweet influence

Might tend to wean him. Therefore, with her hues,
Her forms, and with the spirit of her forms,
He clothed the nakedness of austere truth.
While yet he lingered in the rudiments
Of science, and among her simplest laws,
His triangles--they were the stars of heaven,
The silent stars! Oft did he take delight
To measure the altitude of some tall crag
That is the eagle's birth-place, or some peak
Familiar with forgotten years, that shows
Inscribed, as with the silence of the thought,
Upon its bleak and visionary sides,

The history of many a winter storm,
Or obscure records of the path of fire.

And thus, before his eighteenth year was told,
Accumulated feelings pressed his heart

With still increasing weight; he was o'erpowered
By Nature, by the turbulence subdued

Of his own mind; by mystery and hope,
And the first virgin passion of a soul
Communing with the glorious Universe.
Full often wished he that the winds might rage
When they were silent; far more fondly now
Than in his earlier season did he love

Tempestuous nights the conflict and the sounds
That live in darkness - from his intellect
And from the stillness of abstracted thought
He asked repose; and, failing oft to win

The peace required, he scanned the laws of light
Amid the roar of torrents, where they send
From hollow clefts up to the clearer air
A cloud of mist, that, smitten by the sun,
Varies its rainbow hues. But vainly thus,
And vainly by all other means, he strove
To mitigate the fever of his heart.

In dreams, in study, and in ardent thought,
Thus was he reared, much wanting to assist
The growth of intellect, yet gaining more,
And every moral feeling of his soul
Strengthened and braced, by breathing in content
The keen, the wholesome air of poverty,
And drinking from the well of homely life.

- But, from past liberty, and tried restraints,
He now was summoned to select the course
Of humble industry that promised best
To yield him no unworthy maintenance.
Urged by his Mother, he essayed to teach

A Village school — but wandering thoughts were then

« AnteriorContinuar »