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“ Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone
Wi' the auld moone in bir arme.”
Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence, Percy's Reliques.
ONCE I could hail (howe'er serene the sky)
The Moon re-entering her monthly round,
No faculty yet given me to espy
The dusky Shape within her arms imbound,
That thin memento of effulgence lost
Which some have named her Predecessor's Ghost.
Young, like the Crescent that above me shone,
Nought I perceived within it dull or dim;
All that appeared was suitable to One
Whose fancy had a thousand fields to skim;
To expectations spreading with wild growth,
And hope that kept with me her plighted troth.
I saw (ambition quickening at the view)
A silver boat launched on a boundless flood;
A pearly crest, like Dian's when it threw
Its brightest splendour round a leafy wood;
But not a hint from under-ground, no sign
Fit for the glimmering brow of Proserpine.
Or was it Dian's self that seemed to move
Before me? — nothing blemished the fair sight;
On her I looked whom jocund Fairies love,
Cynthia, who puts the little stars to flight,
And by that thinning magnifies the great,
For exaltation of her sovereign state.
And when I learned to mark the Spectral-shape
As each new Moon obeyed the call of Time,
If gloom fell on me, swift was my escape;
Such happy privilege hath Life's gay Prime, ,
To see or not to see, as best may please
A buoyant Spirit, and a heart at ease.
Now, dazzling Stranger ! when thou meet'st my glance,
Thy dark Associate ever I discern;
Emblem of thoughts too eager to advance
While I salute my joys, thoughts sad or stern;
Shades of past bliss, or phantoms that to gain
Their fill of promised lustre wait in vain.
So changes mortal Life with fleeting years ;
A mournful change, should Reason fail to bring
The timely insight that can temper fears,
And from vicissitude remove its sting ;
While Faith aspires to seats in that Domain
Where joys are perfect, neither wax nor wane.
O FOR a dirge! But why complain ?
Ask rather a triumphal strain
When FERMOR's race is run;
A garland of immortal boughs
To bind around the Christian's brows,
Whose glorious work is done.
We pay a high and holy debt;
No tears of passionate regret
Shall stain this votive lay;
Ill-worthy, Beaumont ! were the grief
That flings itself on wild relief
When Saints have passed away.
Sad doom, at Sorrow's shrine to kneel,
For ever covetous to feel,
And impotent to bear:
Such once was hers — to think and think
On severed love, and only sink
From anguish to despair!
But nature to its inmost part
Had Faith refined, and to her heart
A peaceful cradle given:
Calm as the dew-drop's, free to rest
Within a breeze-fanned rose's breast
Till it exhales to heaven.
Was ever Spirit that could bend
So graciously ? — that could descend,
Another's need to suit,
So promptly from her lofty throne ? —
In works of love, in these alone,
How restless, how minute !
Pale was her hue; yet mortal cheek
Ne'er kindled with a livelier streak
When aught had suffered wrong, —
When aught that breathes had felt a wound;
Such look the Oppressor might confound,
However proud and strong.
But hushed be every thought that springs
From out the bitterness of things;
Her quiet is secure;
No thorns can pierce her tender feet,
Whose life was, like the violet, sweet,
As climbing jasmine, pure; -
As snowdrop on an infant's grave,
Or lily heaving with the wave
That feeds it and defends;
As Vesper, ere the star hath kissed
The mountain top, or breathed the mist
That from the vale ascends.
Thou takest not away, O Death!
Thou strik'st — and absence perisheth,
Indifference is no more;
The future brightens on our sight;
For on the past hath fallen a light
That tempts us to adore.
INVOCATION TO THE EARTH.
1. “ REST, rest, perturbéd Earth! “O rest, thou doleful Mother of Mankind!” A Spirit sang in tones more plaintive than the wind: “ From regions where no evil thing has birth “I come — thy stains to wash away, “ Thy cherished fetters to unbind, - To open thy sad eyes upon a milder day.
“ The Heavens are thronged with martyrs that have risen
“From out thy noisome prison;
“ The penal caverns groan “ With tens of thousands rent from off the tree “ Of hopeful life, — by Battle's whirlwind blown “ Into the deserts of Eternity. - Unpitied havoc! Victims unlamented ! “ But not on high, where madness is resented, “ And murder causes some sad tears to flow, “ Though, from the widely-sweeping blow, “ The choirs of Angels spread, triumphantly augmented.
“ False Parent of Mankind !
“ Obdurate, proud, and blind, “ I sprinkle thee with soft celestial dews, “ Thy lost maternal heart to re-infuse! “ Scattering this far-fetched moisture from my wings, “Upon the act a blessing I implore, “ Of which the rivers in their secret springs, " The rivers stained so oft with human gore, “ Are conscious ; — may the like return no more! “ May Discord — for a Seraph's care “ Shall be attended with a bolder prayer — “ May she, who once disturbed the seats of bliss
“ These mortal spheres above, " Be chained for ever to the black abyss !
And thou, O rescued Earth, by peace and love, “ And merciful desires, thy sanctity approve !”
The Spirit ended his mysterious rite,
And the pure vision closed in darkness infinite.