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“To one, it is ten years of years.
But now, and in this place,
Surely she lean’d o'er me, her hair
Fell all about my face;
Nothing; the Autumn fall of leaves
The whole year sets apace.
“Ah, sweet, even now in that bird's song
Strove not her accents there
Fain to be hearken’d? When those bells
Possess'd the midday air,
Strove not her steps to reach my side
Down all the echoing stair?”.
This is almost equalled in sadness by his
“To-night this sunset spreads two golden wings
Cleaving the western sky;
Wing'd, too, with wind it is, and winnowings
Of birds; as if the day's last hour in rings
Of strenuous flight must die.
“Even thus hope's hours, in ever eddying flight,
To many a refuge tend.
With the first light she laugh’d, and the last light
Glows round her still, who natheless in the night
At length must make an end.
“And now the mustering rooks innumerable
Together sail and soar,
While for the day's death, like a tolling knell,
Unto the heart they seem to cry, Farewell,
No more, farewell, no more!
“Is hope not plum’d, as 'twere a fiery dart?
And O! thou dying day,
Even as thou goest, must she, too, depart,
And sorrow fold such pinions on the heart
As will not fly away?”
Emerson in the following suggestive verses shows the power that scenery connected with his early years had of recalling the past:
“Knows he who tills this lonely field,
To reap its scanty corn,
What mystic fruit his acres yield
At midnight, and at morn?
“In the long Summer afternoon,
The plain was full of ghosts;
I wander'd up, I wander'd down,
Beset by pensive hosts.
“The winding Concord gleam'd below,
Pouring as wide a flood
As when my brothers, long ago,
Came with me to the wood.
“But they are gone, the holy ones
Who trod with me this lovely vale;
The strong, star-bright companions
Are silent, low, and pale.
“I touch this flower of silken leaf,
Which once our childhood knew;
Its soft leaves wound me with a grief
Whose balsam never grew."
And in a similar manner Longfellow writes of the seashore:
"Palingene- "I lay upon the headland height and listen'd
sis.” H. W. To the incessant sobbing of the sea
In caverns under me,
And watch'd the waves that toss’d and fled and glisten’d,
Until the rolling meadows of amethyst
Melted away in mist.
“Then suddenly as one from sleep I started,
For round about me all the sunny capes
Seem'd peopled with the shapes
Of those whom I had known in days departed,
Apparell'd in the loveliness which gleams
On faces seen in dreams.
“A moment only and the light and glory
Faded away, and the disconsolate shore
Stood lonely as before;
And the wild roses of the promontory
Around me shudder'd in the wind, and shed
Their petals of pale red.”
Matthew Arnold gives a more modern version of the ideas Coleridge expressed in the “Ode on Dejection,” which has already been quoted in this chapter. The comparison of the two passages is a very interesting one. The form in which Coleridge gives expression
to his thoughts is more poetical and the treatment more that of a mystic. Matthew Arnold has not the tolerance of the older poet nor his gentle outlook on the world, and his verse lacks somewhat of skill in construction, though it has a strength and charm of its own, and goes very straight to the mark. But both poets see clearly that the feelings and thoughts that arise in the mind from intercourse with nature are personal to the observers, and depend upon the temperament, the constitution, and the environment of each one.
"Fools that these mystics are
Who prate of nature! For she
Hath neither beauty, nor warmth,
Nor life, nor emotion, nor power.
But man has a thousand gifts,
And the generous dreamer invests
The senseless world with them all.
Nature is nothing; her charm
Lives in our eyes which can paint,
Lives in our hearts which can feel.”
And we find, as we would expect in one whose poetry is full of the restlessness of modern life, numerous references to the effects of nature on the feelings:
“Dover “Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.”
“Thyrsis.” “He hearkens not! light comer, he is flown!
What matters it? Next year he will return,
And we shall have him in the sweet spring days,
With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern,
And bluebells trembling by the forest-ways,
And scent of hay new-mown.
But Thyrsis never more we swains shall see.'
“Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
In ever-nearing circle draws her shade.
I see her veil draw soft across the day,
I feel her softly chilling breath invade
The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey;
I feel her finger light
Laid pausefully upon life's headlong train;
The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew,
The heart less bounding at emotions new,
And hope, once crush'd, less quick to spring again.”
One of the modern great poets writes in a very remarkable ode to Autumn, full of imagination and suggestion, and felicitously worded phrases, these stanzas: