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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 assure 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;

Who had beheld Belphoebe in a brook,

Aud lowly Una in a leafy nook,

And Archimago leaning o'er his book:

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

From silwry 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 wrongM Libertas—who has told you stories

Of laurel chaplets, and Apollo's glories;

Of troops chivalrous prancing through the 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 swcll'd with pathos, and what right divine:

Spenserian vowels that elope with ease,

And float along like birds o'er summer seas:

M ill<>ninn storms, and more, Miltonian tenderness:

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

Who read for me tho sonnet swelling loudly

Up to its climax, and then dying proudly i

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 1

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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