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For tasting joys like these, sure I should be

Happier, and dearer to society.

At times, 'tis true, I 've felt relief from pain

When some bright thought has darted through my brain:

Through all that day I Ve felt a greater pleasure

Than if I had brought to light a hidden treasure.

As to my sonnets, though none else should heed them,

I feel delighted, still, that you should read them.

Of late, too, I have had much calm enjoyment,

Stretch'd on the grass at my best loved employment

Of scribbling lines for you. These things I thought

While, in my face, the freshest breeze I caught.

E'en now I am pillow'd on a bed of flowers

That crowns a lofty cliff, which proudly towers

Above the ocean waves. The stalks and blades

Chequer my tablet with their quivering shades.

On one side is a field of drooping oats,

Through which the poppies show their scarlet coats,

So pert and useless, that they bring to mind

The scarlet coats that pester human-kind.

And on the other side, outspread, is seen

Ocean's blue mantle, streaked with purple and green;

Now 'tis I see a canvass'd ship, and now

Mark the bright silver curling round her prow.

I see the lark down-dropping to his nest,

And the broad-wing'd sea-gull never at rest;

For when no more he spreads his feathers free,

His breast is dancing on the restless sea.

Now I direct my eyes into the west,

Which at this moment is in sun-beams drest:

Why westward turn? 'Twas but to say adieu!

'Twas but to kiss my hand, dear George, to you!

August, 1816.


Oft have you seen a swan superbly frowning,

And with proud breast his own white shadow crowning;

He slants his neck beneath the waters bright

So silently, it seems a beam of light

Come from the galaxy: anon he sports,—

With outspread wings the Naiad Zephyr courts,

Or ruffles all the surface of the lake

In striving from its crystal face to take

Some diamond water-drops, and them to treasure

In milky nest, and sip them off at leisure.

But not a moment can he there ensure them,

Nor to such downy rest can he allure them;

For down they rush as though they would be free,

And drop like hours into eternity.

Just like that bird am I in loss of time,

Whene'er I venture on the stream of rhyme;

With shatter'd boat, oar snapt, and canvas rent,

I slowly sail, scarce knowing my intent;

Still scooping up the water with my fingers,

In which a trembling diamond never lingers.

By this, friend Charles, you may full plainly see
Why I have never penn'd a line to thee:
Because my thoughts were never free and clear,
And little fit to please a classic ear;
Because my wine was of too poor a savour
For one whose palate gladdens in the flavour
Of sparkling Helicon:—small good it were
To take him to a desert rude and bare,
Who had on Baise's shore reclined at ease,
While Tasso's page was floating in a breeze
That gave soft music from Armida's bowers,
Mingled with fragrance from her rarest flowers:
Small good to one who had by Mulla's stream
Fondled the maidens with the breasts of cream;

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Who had beheld Belphoebe in a brook,

And lovely Una in a leafy nook,

And Archimago leaning o'er his book:

Who had of all that's sweet tasted, and seen,

From silvery ripple, up to beauty's queen;

From the sequester'd haunts of gay Titania,

To the blue dwelling of divine Urania:

One, who, of late had ta'en sweet forest walks

With him who elegantly chats and talks—

The wrong'd Libertas—who has told you stories

Of laurel chaplets, and Apollo's glories;

Of troops chivalrous prancing through a city,

And tearful ladies, made for love and pity:

With many else which I have never known.

Thus have I thought; and days on days have flown

Slowly, or rapidly—unwilling still

For you to try my dull, unlearned quill.

Nor should I now, but that I 've known you long;

That you first taught me all the sweets of song:

The grand, the sweet, the terse, the free, the fine:

What swell'd with pathos, and what right divine:

Spenserian vowels that elope with ease,

And float along like birds o'er summer seas:

Miltonian storms, and more, Miltonian tenderness:

Michael in arms, and more, meek Eve's fair slenderness.

Who read for me the sonnet swelling loudly

Up to its climax, and then dying proudly?

Who found for me the grandeur of the ode,

Growing, like Atlas, stronger from its load«

Who let me taste that more than cordial dram,

The sharp, the rapier-pointed epigram?

Show'd me that epic was of all the king,

Round, vast, and spanning all, like Saturn's ring?

You too up-held the veil from Clio's beauty,

And pointed out the patriot's stern duty;

The might of Alfred, and the shaft of Tell;

The hand of Brutus, that so grandly fell

Upon a tyrant's head. Ah! had I never seen,

Or known your kindness, what might I have been!

What my enjoyments in my youthful years,

Bereft of all that now my life endears?

And can I e'er these benefits forget?

And can I e'er repay the friendly debt?

No, doubly no;—yet should these rhymings please,

I shall roll on the grass with two-fold ease;

For I have long time been my fancy feeding

With hopes that you would one day think the reading

Of my rough verses not an hour mispent;

Should it e'er be so, what a rich content!

Some weeks have passed since last I saw the spires

In lucent Thames reflected:—warm desires

To see the sun o'er-peep the eastern dimness,

And morning-shadows streaking into slimness

Across the tawny fields, and pebbly water;

To mark the time as they grow broad and shorter;

To feel the air that plays about the hills,

And sips its freshness from the little rills;

To see high, golden corn wave in the light

When Cynthia smiles upon a summer's night,

And peers among the cloudlets, jet and white,

As though she were reclining in a bed

Of bean-blossoms, in heaven freshly shed.

No sooner had I stepp'd into these pleasures,

Then I began to think of rhymes and measures;

The air that floated by me seem'd to say

"Write! thou wilt never have a better day."

And so I did. When many lines I 'd written,

Though with their grace I was not oversmitten,

Yet, as my hand was warm, I thought I 'd better

Trust to my feelings, and write you a letter.

Such an attempt required an inspiration

Of a peculiar sort,—a consummation;—

Which, had I felt, these scribblings might have been

Verses from which the soul would never ween;

But many days have past since last my heart

Was warm'd luxuriously by divine Mozart;

By Arne delighted, or by Handel madden'd;

Or by the song of Erin pierced and sadden'd:

What time you were before the music sitting,

And the rich notes to each sensation fitting.

Since I have walk'd with you through shady lames

That freshly terminate in open plains,

And revell'd in a chat that ceased not,

When, at night-fall, among your books we got:

No, nor when supper came, nor after that,—

Nor when reluctantly I took my hat;

No, nor till cordially you shook my hand

Mid-way between our homes:—your accents bland

Still sounded in my ears, when I no more

Could hear your footsteps touch the gravelly floor.

Sometimes I lost them, and then found again;

You changed the foot-path for the grassy plain.

In those still moments I have wish'd you joys

That well you know to honour:—" Life's very toys

With him," said I, " will take B pleasant charm;

It cannot be that aught will work him harm."

These thoughts now come o'er me with all their might:—

Again I shake your hand,—friend Charles, good night.

September, 1816.


Loxdon: Annum And Evikb, Pbiwthrb, Wiiitkfiliabb.

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