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THE DAWN OF ROMANTIC POETRY.
226. ROBERT BLAIR. 1699-1746. (Manual, p. 350.)
FROM "THE Grave.”
Thrice welcome Death!
That, after many a painful bleeding step,
Conducts us to our home, and lands us safe
On the long-wished-for shore. Prodigious change!
Our bane turned to a blessing! Death, disarmed,
Loses his fellness quite; all thanks to Him
Who scourged the venom out. Sure the last end
Of the good man is peace! How calm his exit!
Night-dews fall not more gently to the ground,
Nor weary, worn-out winds expire so soft.
Behold him! in the evening tide of life,
A life well spent, whose early care it was
His riper years should not upbraid his green:
By unperceived degrees he wears away;
Yet, like the sun, seems larger at his setting!
High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's hampered, struggles hard to get away!
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast-coming harvest. Then, O, then,
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought! O, how he longs
To have his passport signed, and be dismissed!
'Tis done and now he's happy! The glad soul
Has not a wish uncrowned.
JAMES THOMSON. 1700-1748. (Manual, p. 351.)
227. EVENING IN AUTUMN.
The western sun withdraws the shortened day,
And humid evening, gliding o'er the sky
In her chill progress, to the ground condensed
The vapors throws. Where creeping waters ooze,
Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along
The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon,
Full-orbed, and breaking through the scattered clouds,
Shows her broad visage in the crimson east.
Turned to the sun direct, her spotted disk,
Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
And caverns deep, as optic tube descries,
A smaller earth, gives us his blaze again,
Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime.
Wide the pale deluge floats, and streaming mild
O'er the skied mountain to the shadowy vale,
While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
Of silver radiance, trembling round the world.
228. REFLECTIONS SUGGESTED BY WINTER. "Tis done! - Dread Winter spreads his latest glooms, And reigns tremendous o'er the conquered year. How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man!
See here thy pictured life; pass some few years,
Thy flowering Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength,
Thy sober Autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding Winter comes at last,
And shuts the scene. Ah! whither now are fled
Those dreams of greatness? those unsolid hopes
Of happiness? those longings after fame?
Those restless cares? those busy, bustling days?
Those gay-spent, festive nights? those veering thoughts,
Lost between good and ill, that shared thy life?
All now are vanished! Virtue sole survives,
Immortal never-failing friend of man,
His guide to happiness on high. And see!
'Tis come, the glorious morn! the second birth
Of heaven and earth! awakening Nature hears
The new-creating word, and starts to life,
In every heightened form, from pain and death
Forever free. The great eternal scheme,
Involving all, and in a perfect whole
Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads,
To reason's eye refined, clears up apace.
Ye vainly wise! ye blind presumptuous! now,
Confounded in the dust, adore that Power
And Wisdom oft arraigned: see now the cause,
Why unassuming worth in secret lived,
And died, neglected: why the good man's share
In life was gall and bitterness of soul:
Why the lone widow and her orphans pined
In starving solitude! while Luxury,
In palaces, lay straining her low thought,
To form unreal wants: why heaven-born Truth,
And Moderation fair, wore the red marks
Of Superstition's scourge: why licensed Pain,
That cruel spoiler, that imbosomed foe,
Imbittered all our bliss. Ye good distressed!
Ye noble few! who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up a while,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deemed evil is no more:
The storms of wintry Time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded Spring encircle all.
229. FROM "THE CASTLE OF INDOLENCE."
O mortal man, who livest here by toil,
Do not complain of this thy hard estate;
That like an emmet thou must ever moil
Is a sad sentence of an ancient date,
And, certes, there is for it reason great;
For, though sometimes it makes thee weep and wail,
And curse thy star, and early drudge and late,
Withouten that would come a heavier bale,1
Loose life, unruly passions, and diseases pale.
In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,
With woody hill o'er hill encompassed round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,
Than whom a fiend more fell is nowhere found.
It was, I ween, a lovely spot of ground: And there a season atween June and May, Half-prankt with spring, with summer half-imbrowned, A listless climate made, where, sooth to say, No living wight could work, ne caréd e'en for play.
Was nought around but images of rest;
Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between; And flowery beds that slumberous influence kest," From poppies breathed; and beds of pleasant green, Where never yet was creeping creature seen. Meantime, unnumbered glittering 'streamlets played, And hurled everywhere their waters sheen; That as they bickered through the sunny glade, Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur made.
Joined to the prattle of the purling rills
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale,
And flocks loud bleating from the distant hills,
And vacant shepherds piping in the dale:
And now and then sweet Philomel would wail,
Or stock-doves 'plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale;
And still a coil the grasshopper did keep;
Yet all these sounds yblent inclinéd all to sleep.
3 A murmur, or noise.
Such health do my fountains bestow;
My fountains are bordered with moss,
Where the harebells and violets blow.
WILLIAM SHENSTONE. 1714-1763. (Manual, p. 353.)
230. THE SHEPHERD'S HOME.
My banks they are furnished with bees,
Whose murmur invites one to sleep;
My grottos are shaded with trees,
And my hills are white over with sheep.
I seldom have met with a loss,
Not a pine in my grove is there seen,
But with tendrils of woodbine is bound;
Not a beech's more beautiful green,
But a sweet-brier entwines it around.
Not my fields, in the prime of the year,
More charms than my cattle unfold;
Not a brook that is limpid and clear,
But it glitters with fishes of gold.
One would think she might like to retire
To the bower I have labored to rear;
Not a shrub that I heard her admire,
But I hasted and planted it there.
O, how sudden the jessamine strove
With the lilac to render it gay!
Already it calls for my love
To prune the wild branches away.
From the plains, from the woodlands, and groves,
What strains of wild melody flow!
How the nightingales warble their loves
From thickets of roses that blow!
And when her bright form shall appear,
Each bird shall harmoniously join
In a concert so soft and so clear,
As she may not be fond to resign.
I have found out a gift for my fair,
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed;
But let me such plunder forbear,
She will say 'twas a barbarous deed;
For he ne'er could be true, she averred,
Who would rob a poor bird of its young;
And I loved her the more when I heard
Such tenderness fall from her tongue.
I have heard her with sweetness unfold
How that pity was due to a dove;
That it ever attended the bold,
And she called it the sister of love.
But her words such a pleasure convey,
So much I her accent adore,
Let her speak, and whatever she say,
Methinks I should love her the more.
WILLIAM COLLINS. 1721-1759. (Manual, p. 353.)
231. ODE to Fear.
Thou, to whom the world unknown,
With all its shadowy shapes, is shown,
Who seest appalled the unreal scene,
While Fancy lifts the veil between :