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And, tired with sport, wouldst sink asleep
Upon the couchant Lion's mane!
With rolling years thy strength increased ;
And, far beyond thy native East,
To thee, by varying titles known,
As variously thy power was shown,
Did incense-bearing Altars rise,
Which caught the blaze of sacrifice,
From Suppliants panting for the skies!
What though this ancient Earth be trod
No more by step of Demi-god,
Mounting from glorious deed to deed
As thou from clime to clime didst lead,
Yet still, the bosom beating high,
And the hushed farewell of an eye
Where no procrastinating gaze
A last infirmity betrays,
Prove that thy heaven-descended sway
Shall ne'er submit to cold decay.
By thy divinity impelled,
The Stripling seeks the tented field;
The aspiring Virgin kneels; and, pale
With awe, receives the hallowed veil,
A soft and tender Heroine
Vowed to severer discipline;
Inflamed by thee, the blooming Boy
Makes of the whistling shrouds a toy,
And of the Ocean's dismal breast
A play-ground and a couch of rest;
Thou to his dangers dost enchain,
Mid the blank world of snow and ice,
The Chanois-chaser, awed in vain
By chasm or dizzy precipice;
And hast Thou not with triumph seen
How soaring Mortals glide serene
From cloud to cloud, and brave the light
With bolder than Icarian flight?
Or, in their bells of crystal, dive
where winds and waters cease to strive,
For no unholy visitings,
Among the monsters of the Deep,
And all the sad and precious things
Thy call an abject Nation can restore,
When but a single mind resolves to crouch no more.
Dread Minister of wrath
Who to their destined punishment dost urge
The Pharaohs of the earth, the men of hardened heart!
Not unassisted by the flattering stars,
Thou strew'st temptation o'er the path
When they in pomp depart,
With trampling horses and refulgent cars—
Soon to be swallowed by the briny surge;
Or cast, for lingering death, on unknown strands;
Or stifled under weight of desert sands—
An Army now, and now a living hill
Heaving with convulsive throes,
It quivers—and is still;
Or to forget their madness and their woes,
Wrapt in a winding-sheet of spotless snows!
Back flows the willing current of my Song:
If to provoke such doom the Impious dare,
Why should it daunt a blameless prayer?
—Hold Goddess! range our Youth among;
Nor let thy genuine impulse fail to beat
In hearts no longer young;
Still may a veteran Few have pride
In thoughts whose sternness makes them sweet;
In fixed resolves by reason justified;
That to their object cleave like sleet
Whitening a pine-tree's northern side,
While fields are naked far and wide.
But, if such homage thou disdain
As doth with mellowing years agree,
One rarely absent from thy train
More humble favours may obtain
For thy contented Votary.
She, who incites the frolic lambs
In presence of their heedless dams,
And to the solitary fawn
Vouchsafes her lessons—bounteous Nymph
That wakes the breeze—the sparkling lymph
Doth hurry to the lawn;
She, who inspires that strain of joyance holy
Which the sweet Bird, misnamed the melancholy
Pours forth in shady groves, shall plead for me;
And vernal mornings opening bright.
With views of undefined dright,
And cheerful songs, and suns that shine
on busy days, with thankful nights, be mine.
But thou, O Goddess! in thy favourite Isle
(Freedom's impregnable redoubt,
The wide Earth's store-house fenced about
with breakers roaring to the gales
That stretch a thousand thousand sails)
Quicken the Slothful, and exalt the Vile!
Thy impulse is the life of Fame;
Glad Hope would almost cease to be
If torn from thy society;
And Love, when worthiest of the name,
Is proud to walk the Earth with thee!
Duning the month of December, 1820, i accompanied a much loved and honoured Friend in a walk through different parts of his Estate, with a view to fix upon the site of a New Church which he intended to erect. It was one of the most beautiful mornings of a mild season, – our feelings were in harmony with the cherishing influences of the scene; and, such being our purpose, we were naturally led to look back upon past events with wonder and gratitude, and on the future with hope. Not long afterwards, some of the Sonnets which will be found towards the close of this Series were produced as a private memorial of that morning's occupation. The Catholic Question, which was agitated in Parliament about that time, kept my thoughts in the same course; and it struck me that certain points in the Ecclesiastical History of our Country might advantageously be presented to view in Verse. Accordingly I took up the subject, and what I now offer to the Reader was the result. When this work was far advanced, I was agreeably surprised to find that my Friend, Mr Southev, was engaged, with similar views, in writing a concise History of the Church in England. If our Productions, thus unintentionally coinciding, shall be found to illustrate each other, it will prove a high gratification to me, which I am sure my Friend will participate.
Rydal Mount, January 24, 1822.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY INTo Bhita iN, to the consu MMAtion Of the PAPAL DOMiNiON.
I, who accompanied with faithful pace Cerulean Duddon from his cloud-fed spring, And loved with Spirit ruled by his to sing Of mountain quiet and boon nature's grace; I, who essay'd the nobler Stream to trace
* For the convenience of passing from one point of the subject to another without shocks of abruptness, this work has taken the shape of a series of Sonnets : but the Reader, it is hoped, will find that the pictures are often so closely connected as to have the effect of a poem in a form of stanza, to which there is no objection but one that bears on the Poet only—its difficulty.
Of Liberty, and smote the plausive string
Till the check'd torrent, proudly triumphiug,
Won for herself a lasting resting-place:
Now seek upon the heights of Time the source
Of a Holy River, on whose banks are found
Sweet pastoral flowers, and laurels that have crown'd
Full of the unworthy brow of lawless force;
Where, for delight of him who tracks its course,
Immortal amaranth and palms abound.
If there be Prophets on whose spirits rest
Past things, reveal’d like future, they can tell
What Powers, presiding o'er the sacred Well
Of Christian Faith, this savage Island bless'd
with its first bounty. Wandering through the West.
Did holy Paul a while in Britain dwell,
And call the Fountain forth by miracle,
And with dread signs the nascent Stream invest?
Or He, whose bonds dropped off, whose prison doors
Flew open, by an Angel's voice unbarr'd ".
Or some of humbler name, to these wild shores
Storm-driven, who, having seen the cup of woe
Pass from their Master, sojourn'd here to guard
The precious Current they had taught to flow?
TREPIDATION OF The DRUIDS.
Scheams round the Arch-druid's brow the Seamewa—
As Menai's foam; and tow'rd the mystic ring
Where augurs stand, the future questioning,
Slowly the Cormorant aims her heavy flight,
Portending ruin to each baleful rite,
That, in the lapse of ages hath crept o'er
Diluvian truths, and patriarchal lore.
Haughty the Bard;—can these meek doctrines blight
His transports? wither his heroic strains?
But all shall be fulfill'd :-the Julian spear
A way first open'd : and, with Roman chains,
The tidings come of Jesus crucified;
They corne—they spread—the weak, the suffering, hear
Receive the faith, and in the hope abide.
Mercy and Love have met thee on thy road,
Thou wretched Outcast, from the gift of fire
And food cut off by sacerdotal ire,
From every sympathy that man bestow'd
Yet shall it claim our reverence, that to God,
Ancient of days! that to the eternal Sire
These jealous Ministers of law aspire,
As to the one sole fount whence Wisdom flow'd,
Justice, and Order. Tremblingly escaped,
As if with prescience of the coming storm,
That intimation when the stars were shaped;
And still, mid yon thick woods, the primal truth
Glimmers through many a superstitious form
That fills the soul with unavailing ruth.
Even so, in many a re-constructed fane,
Have the Survivors of this Storm renew'd
Their holy rites with vocal gratitude:
And solemn ceremonials they ordain
To celebrate their great deliverance;
Most feelingly instructed 'mid their fear,
That persecution, blind with rage extreme,
May not the less, through Heaven's mild countenance,
Even in her own despite, both feed and cheer;
For all things are less dreadful than they seem.
TEMPTATIONS FROM ROMAN REFINEMENTS.
WAtch, and be firm' for soul-subduing vice,
Heart-killing luxury, on your steps await.
Fair houses, baths, and banquets delicate
And temples flashing, bright as polar ice,
Their radiance through the woods, may yet suffice
To sap your hardy virtue, and abate
Your love of him upon whose forehead sate
The crown of thorns; whose life-blood flow'd, the price
Of your redemption. Shun the insidious arts
That Rome provides, less dreading from her frown
Than from her wily praise, her peaceful gown,
Language and letters;–these, though fondly view'd
As humanizing graces, are but parts
And instruments of deadliest servitude!
That heresies should strike (if truth be scann'd
Presumptuously) their roots both wide and deep
Is natural as dreams to feverish sleep.
Lo! Discord at the Altar dares to stand
Uplifting tow'rd high Heaven her fiery brand,
A cherished Priestess of the new-baptized'
But chastisement shall follow peace despised.
The Pictish cloud darkens the enervate land
by Rome abandon'd; vain are suppliant cries,
And prayers that would undo her forced farewell,
For she returns not —Awed by her own knell,
She casts the Britons upon strange Allies,
Soon to become more dreaded enemies
Than heartless misery call'd them to repel.
STRUGGLE OF THE BRITONS AGAINST THE BARBARIANS.
Rise!—they have risen: of brave Aneurin ask
how they have scourg'd old foes, perfidious friends:
The spirit of Caractacus defends
The Patriots, animates their glorious task:-
Amazement runs before the towering casque
of Arthur, bearing through the stormy field
The virgin sculptured on his Christian shield:-
stretch'd in the sunny light of victory bask
The hosts that follow'd Urien as he strode
O'er heaps of slain;-from Cambrian wood and moss
Druids descend, auxiliars of the Cross;
Bards, nursed on blue Plinlimmon's still abode,
Rush on the fight, to harps preferring swords,
And everlasting deeds to burning words'
Noa wants the cause the panic-striking aid
Of Hallelujahs tost from hill to hill—
For instant victory. But Heaven's high will
Permits a second and a darker shade
Of Pagan night. Afflicted and dismayed,
The Relics of the sword flee to the mountains:
0 wretched Land! whose tears have slowed like fountains;
Whose arts and honours in the dust are laid,
By men yet scarcely conscious of a care
For other monuments than those of Earth; *
Who, as the fields and woods have given them birth,
Will build their savage fortunes only there;
Content, if foss, and barrow, and the girth
Of long-drawn rampart, witness what they were.
MONASTERY OF OLD BANGOR.3
The oppression of the tumult—wrath and scorn—
The tribulation—and the gleaming blades—
Such is the impetuous spirit that pervades
The song of Taliesin;4—Ours shall mourn
The unarmed Host who by their prayers would turn
The sword from Bangor's walls, and guard the store
Of Aboriginal and Roman lore,
And Christian monuments, that now must burn
To senseless ashes. Mark! how all things swerve
From their known course, or vanish like a dream;
Another language spreads from coast to coast;
Only perchance some melancholy Stream
And some indignant Hills old names preserve,
When laws, and creeds, and people all are lost
A bright-haired company of youthful Slaves,
Beautiful Strangers, stand within the pale
Of a sad market, ranged for public sale,
Where Tiber's stream the immortal City laves;
* Alluding to the victory gained under Germanus.—See Bede.
* The last six lines of this Sonnet are chiefly from the prose of Daniel ; and here I will state (though to the steaders whom this Poem will chiefly interest it is unnecessary), that my obligations to other Prose Writers are frequent, —obligations which, even if I had not a pleasure in courting, it would have been presumptuous to shun, in treating an historical subject. I must, however, particularise Fuller, to whom I am indebted in the Sonnet upon Wicliffe, and in other instances. And upon the Acquittal of the Seven Bishops I have done little more than versify a lively description of that Event in the Memoirs of the first Lord Lonsdale.
* - Ethelforth reached the Convent of Bangor, he perceived the Monks, twelve hundred in number, offering prayers for the success of their Country men: ' If they are praying against us,’ he exclaimed, they are fighting against us; and he ordered them to be first attacked : they were destroyed; and, appalled by their fate, the courage of Brocmail wavered, and he fled from the field in dismay. Thus abandoned by their leader, his army soon gave way, and Ethelforth obtained a decisive conquest. Ancient Rangor itself soon fell into his hands, and was demolished ; the noble monastery was levelled to the ground ; its library, which is mentioned as a large one, the collection of ages, the repository of the most precious monuments of the ancient Britons, was consumed; half-ruined walls, gates, and rubbish, were all that remained of the magniticent edifice. — See Turner's valuable History of the AngloSaxons.
The account Rede gives of this remarkable event, suggests a most striking warning against National and Religious prejudices.
* Taliesin was present at the battle which preceded this desolation.
For ever hallowed be this morning fair,
Blest be the unconscious shore on which ye tread,
And blest the silver Cross, which ye, instead
Of martial banner, in procession bear;
The Cross preceding Him who floats in air,
The pictured Saviour !—By Augustin led,
They come—and onward travel without dread,
Chanting in barbarous ears a tuneful prayer,
Sung for themselves, and those whom they would free!
Rich conquest waits them:—the tempestuous sea
Of Ignorance, that ran so rough and high,
And heeded not the voice of clashing swords,
These good men humble by a few bare words,
And calm with fear of God's divinity.
Edwin, as related by him, is highly interesting—and the breaking up of this Council accompanied with an event so striking and tharacteristic, that I am tempted to give it at length, in a translation. • Who, exclaimed the King, when the Council was ended, shall first desecrate the Altars and the Temples: 1, answered the thief Priest, for who more fit than myself, through the wisdom which the true God hath given me to destroy, for the good example of others, what in foolishness I worshipped Immediately, casting away vain superstition, he besought the king to grant him. what the laws did not allow to a priest, arms and a courser ; which mounting, and furnished with a sword and lance, he proceeded to destroy the Idols. The crowd, seeing this, thought him mad-be however halted not, but, approaching, he profaned the Temple,
Housed with rejoicing Friends, is seen to slit
Safe from the storm, in comfort tarrying.
Here did it enter—there, on hasty wing
Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold;
But whence it came we know not, nor behold
Whither it goes. Even such that transient Thing,
The human Soul; not utterly unknown
While in the Body lodged, her warm abode;
But from what world She came, what woe or weal
On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown;
This mystery if the Stranger can reveal,
|lis be a welcome cordially bestowed on
Prompt transformation works the novel lore,
The Council closed, the Priest in full career
Rides forth, an armed man, and hurls a spear
To desecrate the Fame which heretofore
He served in folly.—Woden falls—and Thor
ls overturned ; the mace, in battle heaved
'So might they dream) till victory was achieved,
Drops, and the God himself is seen no more.
Temple and Altar sink, to hide their shame
Amid oblivious weeds. “O come to me,
re heavy laden 'm such the inviting voice
Ileard near fresh streams,'—and thousands, who rejoice
In the new Rite—the pledge of sanctity,
Shall, by regenerate life, the promise claim.
Non scorn the aid which Fancy oft doth lend
The Soul's eternal interests to promote ;
Death, darkness, danger, are our natural lot;
And evil Spirits may our walk attend
For aught the wisest know or comprehend;
Then be good Spirits free to breathe a note
Of clevation; let their odours float
Around these Converts; and their glories blend,
outshining nightly tapers, or the blaze
of the noon-day. Nor doubt that golden cords
of good works, mingling with the visions raise
The soul to purer worlds: and who the line
Shall draw, the limits of the power define,
That even imperfect faith to Man affords?
PRIMITIVE SAXON CLERGY. *
How beautiful your prescnce, how benign, Servants of God! who not a thought will share
roots inst it the lance which he had held in his band, and, --alung in acknowledginent of the worship of the true God, he ordered hi, companion, to pull down the Temple, with all its en-la.are... the place is shown where those idols formerly stood, not far from York, at the source of the river Derwent, and is at this day calle-i Germand Gahan. • • The early propagator. of Christianity were accustomed to preach aear rivers for the convenience of baptism. • maxing spoken of the zeal, disinterestedness, and temperance at the clergy of tune times, lede thus proceeds: - Unde et in magas era, veneratione tempore illo religions habitus, it” " ubicumqa-...-rica, aliqui, out monachus adveniret, Gaudenter ab omnibus ...quare be tanulu, excipcrotur. Eliam si in itiner" perton- in--air-oar, accurrelani, et flewa cervice, vel manu signori. vel ore una. ... beacdici, audebaul. Verbia quoque horum exhortatoriis 4.1% are auditual paleoant." Lib. iii, cap. 36.
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine!
Such Priest, when service worthy of his care
Ilas called him forth to breathe the common air,
Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine
Descended —happy are the eyes that meet
The apparition; evil thoughts are stayed
At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat
A benediction from his voice or hand;
Whence grace, through which the heart can understand;
And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.
Ah, when the Frame, round which in love we clung,
Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail?
Is tender pity then of no avail
Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
A waste of hope!—From this sad source have sprung
Rites that console the spirit, under grief
Which ill can brook more rational relief:
Hence prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung
For those whose doom is fixed . The way is smooth
For Power that travels with the human heart:
Confession ministers, the pang to soothe
In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start.
Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care,
Of your own mighty instruments beware
LANce, shield, and sword relinquished—at his side
A Bead-roll, in his hand a clasped Book,
Or staff more harmless than a Shepherd's crook,
The war-worn Chieftain quits the world—to hide
llis thin autumnal locks where Monks abide
In cloistered privacy. But not to dwell
In soft repose he comes. Within his cell
Round the decaying trunk of human pride,
At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour,
Do penitential cogitations cling :
Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine
In grisly folds and strictures serpentine;
Yet, while they strangle without mercy, bring
For recompense their own perennial bower.
Methinks that to some vacant Hermitage
My feet would rather turn—to some dry nook
Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook
IIurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage,
Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage
In the soft heaven of a translucent pool;
Thence creeping under forest arches cool,
Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage
would elevate my dreams. A beechen bowl,
A maple dish, my furniture should be ;
Crisp, yellow leaves iny bed; the hooting Owl
My night-watch : nor should eer the crested Fowl
From thorp or vill his matins sound for me,
Tired of the world and all its industry.