The shrill cicalas, people of the pine,
Making their summer lives one ceaseless song,
Were the sole echoes, save my steed's and mine,
And vesper-bell's that rose the boughs along;
The spectre huntsman of Onesti's line,
His hell-dogs, and their chase, and the fair throng,
Which learn'd from this example not to fly
From a true lover, shadow'd my mind's eye.
Oh Hesperus! thou bringest all good things-
Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer,
To the young bird the parent's brooding wings,
The welcome stall to the o' labour'd steer;
Whate'er of peace about our hearthstone clings,
Whate'er our household go protect of dear,
Are gather'd round us by thy look of rest;
Thou bring'st the child, too, to the mother's breast.
Soft hour!" which wakes the wish and melts the heart
Of those who sail the seas, on the first day
When they from their sweet friends are torn apart;
Or fills with love the pilgrim on his way,
As the far bell of vesper makes him start,
Seeming to weep the dying day's decay;
Is this a fancy which our reason scorns?
Ah! surely nothing dies but something mourns!
When Nero perish'd by the justest doom
Which ever the destroyer yet destroy'd,
Amidst the roar of liberated Rome,
Of nations freed, and the world overjoy'd,
Some hands unseen strew'd flowers upon his tomb:"
Perhaps the weakness of a heart not void
Of feeling for some kindness done, when power
Had left the wretch an uncorrupted hour.
But I'm digressing: what on earth has Nero,
Or any such like sovereign buffoons,
To do with the transactions of my hero,
More than such madmen's fellow-man-the moon's?
Sure my invention must be down at zero,
And I grown one of many "wooden spoons
Of verse (the name with which we Cantabs please
To dub the last of honours in degrees).
I feel this tediousness will never do-
'Tis being too epic, and I must cut down
(In copying) this long canto into two:
They'll never find it out, unless I own
The fact, excepting some experienced few;
And then as an improvement 't will be shown: I'll prove that such the opinion of the critic is, From Aristotle passim.-See IIOINTIKηs.
As boy, I thought myself a clever fellow,
And wish'd that others held the same opinion. They took it up when my days grew more mellow, And other minds acknowledged my dominion: Now my sere fancy "falls into the yellow
Leaf," and imagination droops her pinion, And the sad truth which hovers o'er my desk Turns what was once romantic to burlesque. IV.
And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
"T is that I may not weep; and if I weep,
'Tis that our nature cannot always bring
First in the icy depths of Lethe's spring,
Itself to apathy, which we must steep
Ere what we least wish to behold will sleep;
Thetis baptized her mortal son in Styx;
A mortal mother would on Lethe fix.
Some have accused me of a strange design
Against the creed and morals of the land,
And trace it in this poem every line:
I don't pretend that I quite understand
My own meaning when I would be very fine;
But the fact is that I have nothing plann'd,
Unless it was to be a moment merry,
A novel word in my vocabulary.