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Gleams, and the wood sends up its harmony,
When, gathering round his bed, they climb to
His kisses, and with gentle violence there
Break in upon a dream not half so fair,
Up to the hill-top leads their little feet;
Or by the forest-lodge, perchance to meet
The stag-herd on its march, perchance to hear
The otter rustling in the sedgy mere;
Or to the echo near the Abbot's tree,
That gave him back his words of pleasantry -
When the House stood, no merrier man than he!
And, as they wander with a keen delight,
If but a leveret catch their quicker sight
Down a green alley, or a squirrel then
Climb the gnarl'd oak, and look and climb again,
If but a moth flit by, an acorn fall,
He turns their thoughts to Him who made them all.
BUT ere you enter, yon bold tower survey,
Tall and entire, and venerably gray;
For Time has soften'd what was harsh when new,
And now the stains are all of sober hue;
The living stains which Nature's hand alone,
Profuse of life, pours forth upon the stone;
For ever growing; where the common eye
Can but the bare and rocky bed descry:
There science loves to trace her tribes minute,
The juiceless foliage, and the tasteless fruit;
There she perceives them round the surface creep.
And while they meet, their due distinction keep;
Mix'd, but not blended; each its name retains,
And these are Nature's ever-during stains.
And would'st thou, artist! with thy tints and
Form shades like these? Pretender, where thy blush?
In three short hours shall thy presuming hand
Th' effect of three slow centuries command?
Thou may'st thy various greens and grays contrive,
They are not lichens, nor like aught alive ;-
But yet proceed, and when thy tints are lost,
Fled in the shower, or crumbled by the frost;
When all thy work is done away as clean
As if thou never spread'st thy gray and green,
Then may'st thou see how Nature's work is
How slowly true she lays her colours on;
When her least speck upon the hardest flint,
Has mark and form, and is a living tint;
And so embodied with the rock, that few
Can the small germ upon the substance view.1
Seeds, to our eye invisible, will find, On the rude rock the bed that fits their kind; There, in the rugged soil, they safely dwell, Till showers and snows the subtle atoms swell. And spread th' enduring foliage ;- then we trace The freckled flower upon the flinty base; These all increase, till in unnotic'd years The stony tower as gray with age appears; With coats of vegetation, thinly spread, Coat above coat, the living on the dead; These then dissolve to dust, and make a way For bolder foliage, nurs'd by their decay:
This kind of vegetation is so thin as frequently not to be distinguished from the surface upon which it grows-as, for instance, Lepraria jolithus, an adhesive carmine crust on rocks and old buildings, which was taken even by scientific persons for the substance on which it is spread.
The long-enduring ferns in time will all
Die, and depose their dust upon the wall;
Where the wing'd seed may rest, till many a flower
Show Flora's triumph o'er the falling tower.
I KNOW not that the men of old
Were better than men now,
Of heart more kind, of hand more bold,
Of more ingenuous brow :
I heed not those who pine for force
A ghost of time to raise,
As if they thus could check the course
Of these appointed days.
Still it is true, and ever true,
That I delight to close
This book of life self-wise and new,
And let my thoughts repose
On all that humble happiness,
The world has since foregone,-
The daylight of contentedness
That on those faces shone!
With rights, tho' not too closely scann'd,
Enjoy'd, as far as known,-
With will by no reverse unmann'd,—
With pulse of even tone,
They from to-day and from to-night
Expected nothing more,
Than yesterday and yesternight
Had proffer'd them before.
To them was life a simple art
Of duties to be done,
A game where each man took his part;
A race that all must run;
A battle whose great scheme and scope
They little car'd to know,
Content, as men at arms, to cope
Each with his fronting foe.
Man now his virtue's diadem
Puts on and proudly wears;
Great thoughts, great feelings came to them,
Like instincts, unawares;
Blending their souls' sublimest needs
With tasks of ev'ry day,
They went about their gravest deeds
As noble boys at play.—
And what if Nature's fearful wound
They did not probe and bare,
For that their spirits never swoon'd
To watch the misery there,-
For that their love but flow'd more fast,
Their charities more free,
Not conscious what mere drops they cast
Into the evil sea.
A man's best things are nearest him,
Lie close about his feet 1,
It is the distant and the dim
That we are sick to greet:
1 I always think that common sense is the best indication of a sound mind, and common life is the best means of temporal happiness, else they had never been common.Dr. Cheyne.
For flowers that grow our hands beneath
We struggle and expire,—
Our hearts must die, except they breathe
The air of fresh desire.
Yet, Brothers, who up reason's hill
Advance with hopeful cheer,—
O! loiter not, those heights are chill,
As chill as they are clear;
And still restrain your haughty gaze,
The loftier that ye go,
Remembering distance leaves a haze
On all that lies below.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF PETROCCHI.
I SAID to Time, "This venerable pile,
Its floor the earth, its roof the firmament,
Whose was it once?" He answer'd not, but fled
Fast as before. I turn'd to Fame, and ask'd.
"Names such as his, to thee they must be known.
Speak!" But she answer'd only with a sigh,
And, musing mournfully, look'd on the ground.
Then to Oblivion I address'd myself,
A dismal phantom, sitting at the gate;
And, with a voice as from the grave, she cried,
"Whose it was once I care not; now 'tis mine." I
The same turn of thought is in an ancient inscription which Sir Walter Scott met with.
The Earth walks on the Earth, glistering with gold;
The Earth goes to the Earth, sooner than it wold;
The Earth builds on the Earth temples and towers;
The Earth says to the Earth, "All will be ours."