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LETTER TO MARIA GISBORNE.

Lzczoax, July 1, 1823. Taz spider spreads her webs, whether she be In poet's towe, celiar, or barn, or tree; The sikworn in the dark green mulberry leaves His winding sheet and cradle ever weaves; So I, a thing whom moralists call worm, Sit spinning still round this decaying form, From the fine threads of rare and subtle thought — Xo net of words in garish colours wrought To catch the idle buzzers of the dayBut a soft cell, where when that fades away, Memory may clothe in wings my living name And feed it with the asphodels of fame, Which in those hearts which must remember me Grow, making love an immortality.

Whoever should behold me now, I wist,
Would think I were a mighty mechanist,
Bent with sublime Archimedean art
To breathe a soul into the iron heart
Of some machine portentous, or strange gin,
Which by the force of figured spells might win
Its way over the sea, and sport therein;

For round the walls are hung dread engines, such
As Vulcan never wrought for Jove to clutch
Ixion or the Titan :- or the quick
Wit of that man of God, St. Dominic,
To convince Atheist, Turk or Heretic,
Or those in philanthropic council met,
Who thought to pay some interest for the debt
They owed to Jesus Christ for their salvation,
By giving a faint foretaste of damnation
To Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser and the rest
Who made our land an island of the blest,
When lamp-like Spain, who now relumes her fire
On Freedom's hearth, grew dim with Empire : -
With thumbscrews, wheels, with tooth and spike and

jag,
Which fishers found under the utmost crag
Of Cornwall and the storm-encompassed isles,
Where to the sky the rude sea rarely smiles
Unless in treacherous wrath, as on the morn
When the exulting elements in scorn
Satiated with destroyed destruction, lay
Sleeping in beauty on their mangled prey,
As panthers sleep;- and other strange and dread
Magical forms the brick floor overspread
Proteus transformed to metal did not make
More figures, or more strange ; nor did he take

Such shapes of unintelligible brass,
Or heap hírnself in such a horrid mass
Of tin and iron not to be understood;
And forms of unimaginable wood,
To puzzle Tubal Cain and all his brood:
Great screws, and cones, and wheels, and grooved

blocks,
The elements of what will stand the shocks
Of wave and wind and time.- Upon the table
More knacks and quips there be than I am able
To catalogize in this verse of mine :-
A pretty bowl of wood - not full of wine,
But quicksilver; that dew which the gnomes drink
When at their subterranean toil they swink,
Pledging the demons of the earthquake, who
Reply to them in lava - cry halloo !
And call out to the cities o'er their head, -
Roofs, towers and shrines, the dying and the dead,
Crash through the chinks of earth and then all quafi
Another rouse, and hold their sides and laugh.
This quicksilver no gnome has drunk -- within
The walnut bowl it lies, veined and thin,
In colour like the wake of light that stains
The Tuscan deep, when from the moist moon rains
The inmost shower of it's white fire — the breeze
Is still — blue heaven smiles over the pale seas.

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And in this bowl of quicksilver - for I
Yield to the impulse of an infancy
Outlasting manhood — I have made to float
A rude idealism of a paper boat :
A hollow screw with cogs — Henry will know
The thing I mean and laugh at me, - if so
He fears not I should do more mischief. Next
Lie bills and calculations much perplext,
With steam-boats, frigates, and machinery quaint
Traced over them in blue and yellow paint.
Then comes a range of mathematical
Instruments, for plans nautical and statical ;
A heap of rosin, a queer broken glass
With ink in it; a china cup that was
What it will never be again, I think,
A thing from which sweet lips were wont to drink
The liquor doctors rail at and which I
Will quaff in spite of them — and when we die
We'll toss up who died first of drinking tea,
And cry out, - heads or tails? where'er we be.
Near that a dusty paint box, some odd hooks,
A half-burnt match, an ivory block, three books,
Where conic sections, spherics, logarithms,
To great Laplace, from Saunderson and Sims,
Lie heaped in their harmonious disarray
Of figures, — disentangle them who may.

Upon my cheek — and how we often made
Feasts for each other, where good will outweighed
The frugal luxury of our country cheer,
As well it might, were it less firm and clear
Than ours must ever be ;— and how we spun
A shroud of talk to hide us from the sun
Of this familiar life, which seems to be
But is not, - or is but quaint mockery
Of all we would believe, and sadly blame
The jarring and inexplicable frame
Of this wrong world :--and then anatomize
The purposes and thoughts of men whose eyes
Were closed in distant years; -- or widely guess
The issue of the earth's great business,
When we shall be as we no longer are
Like babbling gossips safe, who hear the war
Of winds, and sigh, but tremble not; - or how
You listened to some interrupted flow
Of visionary rhyme, --in joy and pain
Struck from the inmost fountains of my brain,
With little skill perhaps ; -- or how we sought
Those deepest wells of passion or of thought
Wrought by wise poets in the waste of years,
Staining their sacred waters with our tears ;
Quenching a thirst ever to be renewed !
ür how I, wisest lady! then indued

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