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Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,
Thou art the path of that unresting sound-
Dizzy Ravine! and when I gaze on thee
I seem as in a trance sublime and strange
To muse on my own separate phantasy,
My own, my human mind, which passively
Now renders and receives fast influencings,
Holding an unremitting interchange
With the clear universe of things around;
One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,
In the still cave of the witch Poesy,
Seeking among the shadows that pass by,
Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee,
Some phantom, some faint image; till the breast
From which they fled recals them, thou art there!
Some say that gleams of a remoter world
Visit the soul in sleep,-that death is slumber,
And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber
Of those who wake and live.-I look on high;
Has some unknown omnipotence unfurl'd
The veil of life and death? or do I lie
In dream, and does the mightier world of sleep
Spread far around and inaccessibly
Its circles? For the very spirit fails,
Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep
That vanishes among the viewless gales!
Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears,-still, snowy, and serene-
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;
A desert peopled by the storms alone,
Save when the eagle brings some hunter's bone,
And the wolf tracks her there-how hideously
Its shapes are heap'd around! rude, bare, and high,
Ghastly, and scarr'd, and riven.-Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-dæmon taught her young
Ruin? Were these their toys? or did a sea
Of fire envelop once this silent snow?
None can reply—all seems eternal now.
The wilderness has a mysterious tongue
Which teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild,
So solemn, so serene, that man may be
But for such faith with nature reconciled:
Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal
Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood
By all, but which the wise, and great, and good
Interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel.
The fields, the lakes, the forests, and the streams,
Ocean, and all the living things that dwell
Within the dædal earth; lightning, and rain,
Earthquake, and fiery flood, and hurricane,
The torpor of the year when feeble dreams
Visit the hidden buds, or dreamless sleep
Holds every future leaf and flower;-the bound
With which from that detested trance they leap;
The works and ways of man, their death and birth,
And that of him and all that his may be;
All things that move and breathe with toil and sound
Are born and die, revolve, subside and swell.
Power dwells apart in its tranquillity
Remote, serene, and inaccessible:
And this, the naked countenance of earth,
On which I gaze, even these primæval mountains,
Teach the adverting mind. The glaciers creep,
Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains,
Slow rolling on; there, many a precipice
Frost and the Sun in scorn of mortal power
Have piled-dome, pyramid, and pinnacle,
A city of death, distinct with many a tower
And wall impregnable of beaming ice.
Yet not a city, but a flood of ruin
Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky
Rolls its perpetual stream; vast pines are strewing
Its destined path, or in the mangled soil
Branchless and shatter'd stand; the rocks, drawn down
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown
The limits of the dead and living world,
Never to be reclaim'd. The dwelling-place
Of insects, beasts, and birds becomes its spoil;
Their food and their retreat for ever gone,
So much of life and joy is lost. The race
Of man flies far in dread; his work and dwelling
Vanish, like smoke before the tempest's stream,
And their place is not known. Below, vast caves
Shine in the rushing torrents' restless gleam,
Which, from those secret chasms in tumult welling,
Meet in the vale, and one majestic River,
The breath and blood of distant lands, for ever
Rolls its loud waters to the ocean waves,
Breathes its swift vapours to the circling air.
Mont Blanc yet gleams on high :-the power is there,
The still and solemn power of many sights
And many sounds, and much of life and death.
In the calm darkness of the moonless nights,
In the lone glare of day, the snows descend
Upon that Mountain; none beholds them there,
Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun,
Or the star-beams dart through them :-Winds contend
Silently there, and heap the snow with breath
Rapid and strong, but silently! Its home
The voiceless lightning in these solitudes
Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods
Over the snow. The secret strength of things
Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome
Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee!
And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea,
If to the human mind's imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?
SWITZERLAND, June 23, 1816.
ON THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI,
IN THE FLORENTINE GALLERY.
Ir lieth, gazing on the midnight sky,
Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine;
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly;
Its horror and its beauty are divine.
Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie
Loveliness like a shadow, from which shrine,
And from a stone beside, a poisonous eft
Peeps idly into these Gorgonian eyes;
Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft
Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise
Out of the cave this hideous light had cleft,
And he comes hastening like a moth that hies
After a taper; and the midnight sky
Flares, a light more dread than obscurity.
'T is the tempestuous loveliness of terror;
For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare
Kindled by that inextricable error,
Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air
Become a [ ] and ever-shifting mirror
Of all the beauty and the terror there-
A woman's countenance, with serpent locks,
Gazing in death on heaven from those wet rocks.
RARELY, rarely, comest thou,
Spirit of Delight!
Wherefore hast thou left me now
Many a day and night? Many a weary night and day "T is since thou art fled away.
How shall ever one like me
Win thee back again? With the joyous and the free
Thou wilt scoff at pain. Spirit false! thou hast forgot All but those who need thee not.
As a lizard with the shade
Of a trembling leaf, Thou with sorrow art dismay'd; Even the sighs of grief Reproach thee, that thou art not near, And reproach thou wilt not hear.
Let me set my mournful ditty
To a merry measure,
Thou wilt never come for pity,
Thou wilt come for pleasure:
Pity then will cut away
Those cruel wings, and thou wilt stay.
I love all that thou lovest,
Spirit of Delight!
The fresh Earth in new leaves drest,
And the starry night,
Autumn evening, and the morn
When the golden mists are born.
I love snow, and all the forms
Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds, and storms,
Every thing almost
Which is Nature's, and may be
Untainted by man's misery.
I love tranquil solitude,
And such society
As is quiet, wise and good.
Between thee and me
What difference? but thou dost possess
The things I seek, not love them less.
I love Love-though he has wings,
And like light can flee,
But above all other things,
Spirit, I love thee-
Thou art love and life! O come,
Make once more my heart thy home.
THUS to be lost, and thus to sink and die,
Perchance were death indeed!-Constantia, turn!
In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie,
Even though the sounds which were thy voice, which
Between thy lips, are laid to sleep;
Within thy breath, and on thy hair, like odour it is yet, And from thy touch like fire doth leap.
Even while I write, my burning cheeks are wetAlas, that the torn heart can bleed, but not forget!
A breathless awe, like the swift change
Unseen, but felt in youthful slumbers,
Wild, sweet, but uncommunicably strange,
Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers.
The cope of heaven seems rent and cloven
By the enchantment of thy strain,
And on my shoulders wings are woven,
To follow its sublime career,
Beyond the mighty moons that wane
Upon the verge of nature's utmost sphere,
'Till the world's shadowy walls are past and disappear.
Her voice is hovering o'er my soul-it lingers,
O'ershadowing it with soft and lulling wings;
The blood and life within those snowy fingers
Teach witchcraft to the instrumental strings.
My brain is wild, my breath comes quick-
The blood is listening in my frame,
And thronging shadows, fast and thick,
Fall on my overflowing eyes;
My heart is quivering like a flame;
As morning dew, that in the sunbeam dies, I am dissolved in these consuming ecstacies.
I have no life, Constantia, now, but thee,
Whilst, like the world-surrounding air, thy song
Flows on, and fills all things with melody.—
Now is thy voice a tempest swift and strong,
On which, like one in trance upborne,
Secure o'er rocks and waves I sweep, Rejoicing like a cloud of morn.
Now 't is the breath of summer night, Which, when the starry waters sleep,
Round western isles, with incense-blossoms bright, Lingering, suspends my soul in its voluptuous flight.
THE waters are flashing,
The white hail is dashing,
The lightnings are glancing,
The hoar-spray is dancing-
The whirlwind is rolling,
The thunder is tolling,
The forest is swinging,
The minster bells ringingCome away!
The Earth is like Ocean, Wreck-strewn and in motion: Bird, beast, man and worm Have crept out of the stormCome away!
Our boat has one sail, And the helmsman is pale ;A bold pilot I trow,
Who should follow us now,.
And she cried: Ply the oar!
Put off gaily from shore!-
As she spoke, bolts of death
Mix'd with hail speck'd their path
O'er the sea.
And from isle, tower and rock, The blue beacon cloud broke, And though dumb in the blast, The red cannon flash'd fast
And fear'st thou, and fear'st thou? And see'st thou, and hear'st thou ?
And drive we not free
O'er the terrible sea,
I and thou?>>
One boat-cloak did cover
The loved and the lover
Their blood beats one measure, They murmur proud pleasure Soft and low;
While around the lash'd Ocean,
Like mountains in motion,
Is withdrawn and uplifted,
Sunk, shatter'd and shifted,
To and fro.
In the court of the fortress,
Beside the pale portress,
Like a blood-hound well beaten,
The bridegroom stands, eaten
On the topmost watch-turret, As a death-boding spirit, Stands the grey tyrant father, To his voice the mad weather Seems tame;
And with curses as wild
As ere clung to child,
He devotes to the blast
The best, loveliest, and last Of his name!
SWIFTER far than summer's flight, Swifter far than youth's delight, Swifter far than happy night,
Art thou come and gone :
As the earth when leaves are dead,
As the night when sleep is sped,
As the heart when joy is fled,
I am left lone, alone.
The swallow Summer comes again,
The owlet Night resumes her reign,
But the wild swan Youth is fain
To fly with thee, false as thou.
My heart each day desires the morrow,
Sleep itself is turn'd to sorrow,
Vainly would my winter borrow
Sunny leaves from any bough.
Lilies for a bridal bed,
Roses for a matron's head,
Violets for a maiden dead,
Pansies let my flowers be:
On the living grave I bear,
Scatter them without a tear,
Let no friend, however dear,
Waste one hope, one fear for me.
THE PINE FOREST
OF THE CASCINE, NEAR PISA.
DEAREST, best and brightest,
To the woods and to the fields!
Dearer than this fairest day,
Which like thee to those in sorrow,
Comes to bid a sweet good-morrow
To the rough year just awake
In its cradle in the brake.