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But this is not my theme; and I return
To that which is immediate, and require
Those who find contemplation in the urn,
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while—a passing guest,
Where he became a being ,—whose desire
Was to be glorious ; 't was a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched : yet he knew
How to make madness beautiful, and cast
O'er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
His love was passion's essence—as a tree
On fire by lightning ; with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted ; for to be
Thus, and enamour'd, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o’erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distemper'd though it seems.
This breathed itself to life in Julie, this
Invested her with all that 's wild and sweet ;
This hallow'd, too, the memorable kiss
Which every morn his fever'd lip would greet,
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet ;
But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
Flash'd the thrill'd spirit's love-devouring heat ;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest,
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
His life was one long war with self-sought foes
Or friends by him self-banish'd; for his mind
Had grown suspicion's sanctuary, and chose
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind,
But he was phrenzied, -wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find ;
But he was phrenzied, by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all which wears a reasoning show.
For then he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more :
Did he not this for France, which lay before
Bow'd to the inborn tyranny of years ?
Broken and trembling to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up to too much wrath which follows o'ergrown fears.
They made themselves a fearful monument !
The wreck of old opinions—things which grew
Breathed from the birth of time : the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour re-fillid,
As heretofore, because ambition was self-will’d.
But this will not endure, nor be endured!
Mankind have felt their strength, and made it felt.
They might have used it better, but, allured
By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt
On one another ; pity ceased to melt
With her once natural charities. But they,
Who in oppression's darkness caved had dwelt,
They were not eagles, nourish'd with the day;
What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey ?
What deep wounds ever closed without a scar ?
The heart's bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquish'd, bear
Silence, but not submission : in his lair
Fix'd passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years ; none need despair :
it cometh, and will come,--the power To punish or forgive-in one we shall be slower.
Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth’s troubled waters for a pürer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction : once I loved
Torn ocean's but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear,
Mellow'd and mingling, yet distinctly seen,
Save darken'd Jura, whose capt heights appear
Precipitously steep; and, drawing near,
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood ; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more:
He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill ;-
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill;
But that is fancy, for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into nature's breast the spirit of her hues.
Ye stars ! which are the poetry of Heaven!
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires,-'t is to be forgiven,
That in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you ; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star.
All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most ;
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep :-
All heaven and earth are still : from the high host
Of stars, to the lullid lake and mountain-coast,
All is concentred in a life intense,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
But hath a part of being, and a sense
Of that which is of all Creator and defence,
Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone;
A truth, which through our being then doth melt
And purifies from self: it is a tone,
The soul and source of music, which makes known
Eternal harmony, and sheds a charm,
Like to the fabled Cytherea's zone,
Binding all things with beauty ;-—'t would disarm
The spectre Death, had he substantial power to harm.
Not vainly did the early Persian make
His altar the high places and the peak
Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, ao and thus take
A fit and unwall’d temple, there to seek
The spirit, in whose honour shrines are weak,
Uprear'd of human hands. Come, and compare
Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek,
With nature's realms of worship, earth and air,
Nor fix on fond abodes to circumscribe thy prayer!
The sky is changed !—and such a change! Oh night,”
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong!
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark
in woman! Far along, From peak to peak, the rattling crags among Leaps the live thunder! Nor from one lone cloud, But every
mountain now hath found a tongue, And Jura answers, through her misty shroud, Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud !
And this is in the night :-most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,
A portion of the tempest and of thee !
How the lit lake shines a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 't is black,--and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o’er a young earthquake's birth.
Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his
between Heights which appear, as lovers who have parted In hate, whose mining depths so intervene, That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted; Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted, Love was the very root of the fond rage Which blighted their life's bloom, and then departed; Itself expired, but leaving them an age years all winters,—war within themselves to wage.
Now, where the quick Rhone thus has cleft his way,
The mightiest of the storms hath ta’en his stand:
For here, not one, but many, make their play,
And fling their thunderbolts from hand to hand,
Flashing and cast around : of all the band,
The brightest through these parted hills hath fork'd
His lightnings, -as if he did understand,
That in such gaps as desolation work’d,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurk’d.