Page images
PDF
EPUB

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or in a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hc ok Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers : And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider press, with patient look,

Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy bue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly boarn ,

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft ;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies

TO THE NIGHTINGALE.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock 1 had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,

Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singêst of summer in full-throated ease.

0, for a draught of vintage ! that hath been Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green;

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim :

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan, Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre thin, and dies ; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow

Away! away ! for I will fly to thee,

Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy,

Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night, !

And haply the Queen-moon is on her throne,
Clustered around by all her starry fays ;

But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,

Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows

The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild ;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets covered up in leaves ;

And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,

The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,

To take into the air my quiet breath;

While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy!
Still would'st thou sing, and I have ears in vain-

To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird !

No hungry generations tread thee down;

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn ;

The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam

Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn,

Forlorn ! the very word is like a bell

To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill side ; and now 'tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream ?

Fled is that music :-Do I wake or sleep!

No! those days are gone away,
And their hours are old and gray,
And their minutes buried all
Under the down-trodden pall
Of the leaves for many years ;
Many times have winter's shears,
Frozen North and chilling East,
Sounded tempests, to the feast
Of the forest's whispering fleeces,

No, the bugle sounds no more,
And the twanging bow no more ;
Silent is the ivory shrill
Past the heath and up the hill,
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone echo gives the half
To some wight, amazed to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.
On the fairest time of June
You may go, with sun or moon,
Or the seven stars to light you,
Or the polar ray to right you,
But you never may behold
Little John, or Robin bold;
Never one, of all the clan,
Thrumming on an empty can.
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile

« PreviousContinue »