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A few short years, and then these sounds shall hail
And soon again shall music swell the breeze; Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees Vestures of nuptial white; and hymns be sung, And violets scattered round; and old and young, In every cottage-porch with garlands green, Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene, While, her dark eyes declining, by his side, Moves in her virgin veil the gentle bride.
And once, alas! nor in a distant hour, Another voice shall come from yonder tower; When in dim chambers long black weeds are seen, And weeping heard where only joy has been; When, by his children borne, and from his door, Slowly departing to return no more, He rests in holy earth with them that went before. And such is human life; so gliding on, It glimmers like a meteor, and is gone! Yet is the tale, brief though it be, as strange, As full, methinks, of wild and wonderous change, As any that the wandering tribes require, Stretched in the desert round their evening fire; As any sung of old, in hall or bower, To minstrel-harps at midnight's witching hour!
(Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray
Slowly, bareheaded, through the surf we bore
As worshipped forms, the Genii of the Wood!
At length the spell dissolves! The warrior's lance Rings on the tortoise with wild dissonance! And see, the regal plumes, the couch of state! Still where it moves the wise in council wait! See now borne forth the monstrous mask of gold, And ebon chair of many a serpent-fold;
These now exchanged for gifts that thrice surpass
That now with terror starts, with triumph glows!
The more she searched, pleased and perplexed the more!
And looked and laughed, and blushed with quick surprise!
Her lips all mirth, all ecstacy her eyes!
But soon the telescope attracts her view; And lo, her lover in his light canoe Rocking, at noontide, on the silent sea, Before her lies! It cannot, cannot be. Late as he left the shore, she lingered there, Till, less and less, he melted into air! Sigh after sigh steals from her gentle frame, And say that murmur-was it not his name? She turns, and thinks, and, lost in wild amaze, Gazes again, and could for ever gaze!
If thou shouldst ever come by choice or chance
'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth,
She sits, inclining forward as to speak,
It haunts me still, though many a year has fled,
Alone it hangs Over a mouldering heir-loom, its companion, An oaken-chest, half eaten by the worn, But richly carved by Antony of Trent With Scripture-stories from the life of Christ; A chest that came from Venice, and had held The ducal robes of some old ancestor. That by the way-it may be true or falseBut don't forget the picture; and thou wilt not, When thou hast heard the tale they told me there. She was an only child; from infancy The joy, the pride of an indulgent sire. Her mother dying of the gift she gave, That precious gift, what else remained to him? The young Ginevra was his all in life, Still as she grew, for ever in his sight; And in her fifteenth year became a bride, Marrying an only son, Francesco Doria, Her playmate from her birth, and her first love. Just as she looks there in her bridal dress, She was all gentleness, all gaiety, Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue. But now the day was come, the day, the hour; Now, frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time, The nurse, that ancient lady, preached decorum; And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave Her hand, with her heart in it, to Francesco.
Great was the joy; but at the bridal feast, When all sat down, the bride was wanting there. Nor was she to be found! Her father cried, "Tis but to make a trial of our love!'
And filled his glass to all; but his hand shook, And soon from guest to guest the panic spread. "Twas but that instant she had left Francesco, Laughing and looking back, and flying still,
Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger.
That mouldering chest was noticed; and 'twas said
An Italian Song.
Dear is my little native vale,
The ring-dove builds and murmurs there;
The squirrel leaps from tree to tree,
In orange groves and myrtle bowers,
The shepherd's horn at break of day,
To the Butterfly.
Child of the sun! pursue thy rapturous flight,.
Yet wert thou once a worm, a thing that crept
Written in the Highlands of Scotland-1812.
The fairy isles fled far away;
Night fell, and dark and darker grew
When day springs upward from the deep!
Glad sign and sure, for now we hail
Oh blest retreat, and sacred too!
They stand between the mountains and the sea;3
1 Signifying in the Gaelic language an isthmus. 2 Loch Long.
3 The temples of Pæstum are three in number, and have survived, nearly nine centuries, the total destruction of the city. Tradition is silent concerning them, but they must have existed now between two and three thousand years.
All silent now, as in the ages past,
Where once a slave withstood a world in arms.
The air is sweet with violets, running wild 'Mid broken friezes and fallen capitals; Sweet as when Tully, writing down his thoughts, Those thoughts so precious and so lately lost (Turning to thee, divine philosophy, Ever at hand to calm his troubled soul), Sailed slowly by, two thousand years ago, For Athens; when a ship, if north-east winds Blew from the Pæstan gardens, slacked her course. On as he moved along the level shore, These temples, in their splendour eminent 'Mid arcs and obelisks, and domes and towers, Reflecting back the radiance of the west, Well might he dream of glory! Now, coiled up, The serpent sleeps within them; the she-wolf Suckles her young; and as alone I stand In this, the nobler pile, the elements Of earth and air its only floor and covering, How solemn is the stillness! Nothing stirs Save the shrill-voiced cicala flitting round On the rough pediment to sit and sing; Or the green lizard rustling through the grass, And up the fluted shaft with short quick spring, To vanish in the chinks that time has made.
In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk Seen at his setting, and a flood of light Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries (Gigantic shadows, broken and confused, Athwart the innumerable columns flung), In such an hour he came, who saw and told, Led by the mighty genius of the place.1
Walls of some capital city first appeared, Half razed, half sunk, or scattered as in scorn; And what within them? What but in the midst These three in more than their original grandeur, And, round about, no stone upon another? As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear, And, turning, left them to the elements.
Go-you may call it madness, folly; You shall not chase my gloom away! There's such a charm in melancholy, I would not, if I could, be gay.
Oh, if you knew the pensive pleasure That fills my bosom when I sigh, You would not rob me of a treasure Monarchs are too poor to buy.
They are said to have been discovered by accident about the middle of the last century.
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
The swallow oft beneath my thatch Shall twitter from her clay-built nest; Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch, And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
The village church, among the trees, Where first our marriage vows were given, With merry peals shall swell the breeze, And point with taper spire to heaven.
On a Tear.
Oh that the chemist's magic art
The little brilliant, ere it fell,
Sweet drop of pure and pearly light,
The sage's and the poet's theme,
That very law which moulds a tear, And bids it trickle from its source, That law preserves the earth a sphere, And guides the planets in their course.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, the greatest of metaphysical poets, is a native of Cockermouth, in the county of Cumberland, where he was born on the 7th of April 1770. His parents were enabled to bestow upon their children the advantages of a complete education (his father was law-agent to Lord Lonsdale), and the poet and his brother (now Dr Christopher Wordsworth, long master of Trinity college), after being some years at Hawkesworth school, in Lancashire, were sent to the university of Cambridge. William was entered of St John's in 1787. Poetry has been with him the early and almost the sole business of his life. Having finished his academical course, and taken his degree, he travelled for a short time; and marrying an amiable lady, his cousin, settled down among the lakes and mountains of Westmoreland. A gentleman dying in his neighbourhood left him a handsome legacy; other bequests followed; and about 1814, the patronage of the noble family of Lowther procured for the poet the easy and lucrative situation of Distributor of Stamps, which left the greater part of his time at his own disposal. In 1842 he resigned this situation in favour of his son, and government re
Wordsworth appeared as a poet in his twenty-third year, 1793. The title of his first work was The Evening Walk, and Descriptive Sketches. The walk is among the mountains of Westmoreland; the sketches refer to a tour made in Switzerland by the poet and his friend, the Rev. R. Jones, fellow of St John's college. The poetry is of the style of Goldsmith; but description predominates over reflection. The enthusiastic dreams of liberty which then buoyed up the young poet, and his associates Coleridge and Southey, appear in such lines as the following:
oh give, great God, to freedom's waves to ride
In 1798 was published a collection of Lyrical Ballads, some by Coleridge, but the greater part by
Wordsworth, and designed by him as an experiment how far a simpler kind of poetry than that in use would afford permanent interest to readers. The humblest subjects, he contended, were fit for poetry, and the language should be that really used by men.' The fine fabric of poetic diction which generations of the tuneful tribe had been laboriously rearing, he proposed to destroy altogether. The language of humble and rustic life, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, he considered to be a more permanent and far more philosophical language than that which is frequently substituted for it by poets. The attempt of Wordsworth was either totally neglected or assailed with ridicule. The transition from the refined and sentimental school of verse, with select and polished
diction, to such themes as The Idiot Boy,' and a style of composition disfigured by colloquial plainness, and by the mixture of ludicrous images and associations with passages of tenderness and pathos, was too violent to escape ridicule or insure general success. It was often impossible to tell whether the poet meant to be comic or tender, serious or ludicrous; while the choice of his subjects and illustrations, instead of being regarded as genuine simplicity, had an appearance of silliness or affectation. The faults of his worst ballads were so glaring, that they overpowered, at least for a time, the simple natural beauties, the spirit of gentleness and humanity, with which they were accompanied. It was a first experiment, and it was made without any regard for existing prejudices or feelings, or any
Rydal Lake and Wordsworth's House.
wish to conciliate. The poems, however, were read | elevated character. The influence of Wordsworth by some. Two more volumes were added in 1807; and it was seen that, whatever might be the theory of the poet, he possessed a vein of pure and exalted description and meditation which it was impossible not to feel and admire. The influence of nature upon man was his favourite theme; and though sometimes unintelligible from his idealism, he was also, on other occasions, just and profound. His worship of nature was ennobling and impressive. In real simplicity, however, Wordsworth is inferior to Cowper, Goldsmith, and many others. He has triumphed as a poet, in spite of his own theory. As the circle of his admirers was gradually extending, he continued to supply it with fresh materials of a higher order. In 1814 appeared The Excursion, a philosophical poem in blank verse, by far the noblest production of the author, and containing passages of sentiment, description, and pure eloquence, not excelled by any living poet, while its spirit of enlightened humanity and Christian benevolence-extending over all ranks of sentient and animated being-imparts to the poem a peculiarly sacred and
on the poetry of his age has thus been as beneficial as extensive. He has turned the public taste from pompous inanity to the study of man and nature; he has banished the false and exaggerated style of character and emotion which even the genius of Byron stooped to imitate; and he has enlisted the sensibilities and sympathies of his intellectual brethren in favour of the most expansive and kindly philanthropy. The pleasures and graces of his muse are all simple, pure, and lasting. In working out the plan of his Excursion,' the poet has not, however, escaped from the errors of his early poems. The incongruity or want of keeping in most of Wordsworth's productions is observable in this work. The principal character is a poor Scotch pedlar, who traverses the mountains in company with the poet, and is made to discourse, with clerklike fluency,
Of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope. It is thus that the poet violates the conventional rules of poetry and the realities of life; for surely it