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THERE IS NO WORK, NOR DEVICE, NOR KNOWLEDGE, NOR WISDOM, IN THE GRAVE, WHITHER THOU GOEST.
The pale, the cold, and the moony smile
Which the meteor beam of a starless night Sheds on a lonely and sea-girt isle,
Ere the dawning of morn's undoubted light, Is the flame of life so fickle and wan That flits round our steps till their strength is gone.
O man ! hold thee on in courage of soul
Through the stormy shades of thy worldly way, And the billows of cloud that around thee roll
Shall sleep in the light of a wondrous day, Where hell and heaven shall leave thee free To the universe of destiny,
This world is the nurse of all we know,
This world is the mother of all we feel,
And the coming of death is a fearful blow
To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel;
When all that we know, or feel, or see,
Shall pass like an unreal mystery.
The secret things of the grave are there,
Where all but this frame must surely be,
Though the fine-wrought eye and the wondrous ear
No longer will live to hear or to see
All that is great and all that is strange
In the boundless realm of unending change.
Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death?
Who lifteth the veil of what is to come ? Who painteth the shadows that are beneath
The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb ? Or uniteth the hopes of what shall be With the fears and the love for that which we see ? 30
A SUMMER-EVENING CHURCH-YARD,
The wind has swept from the wide atmosphere
Each vapour that obscured the sunset's ray;
And pallid evening twines its beaming hair
In duskier braids around the languid eyes of day:
Silence and twilight, unbeloved of men,
Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.
They breathe their spells towards the departing day,
Encompassing the earth, air, stars, and sea;
Light, sound, and motion own the potent sway,
Responding to the charm with its own mystery.
The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass
Knows not their gentle motions as they pass.
Thou too, aerial Pile! whose pinnacles
Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire,
Obeyest in silence their sweet solemn spells,
Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire,
Around whose lessening and invisible height
Gather among the stars the clouds of night.
The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres:
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound
Half sense, half thought, among the darkness stirs,
Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around,
And mingling with the still night and mute sky
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.
Thus solemnized and softened, death is mild
And terrorless as this serenest night:
Here could I hope, like some enquiring child
Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human siglit
Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep
That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep.
POET of Nature, thou hast wept to know
That things depart which never may return:
Childhood and youth, friendship and love's first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:
Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood
Above the blind and battling multitude:
In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty,
Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.
ON THE FALL OF BONAPARTE.
I HATED thee, fallen tyrant! I did groan
To think that a most unambitious slave,
Like thou, shouldst dance and revel on the grave
Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne
Where it had stood even now: thou didst prefer
A frail and bloody pomp which time has swept
In fragments towards oblivion. Massacre,
For this I prayed, would on thy sleep have crept
Treason and Slavery, Rapine, Fear, and Lust,
And stifled thee, their minister. I know
Too late, since thou and France are in the dust,
That virtue owns a more eternal foe
Than force or fraud: old Custom, legal Crime,
And bloody Faith the foulest birth of time.
[An EXCERPT FROM QUEEN MAB.]
Thou taintest all thou lookest upon! The stars,
Which on thy cradle beamed so brightly sweet,
Were gods to the distempered playfulness
Of thy untutored infancy; the trees,
The grass, the clouds, the mountains, and the sea,
All living things that walk, swim, creep, or fly,
Were gods: the sun had homage, and the moon
Her worshipper. Then thou becamest, a boy,
More daring in thy frenzies : every shape,
Monstrous or vast, or beautifully wild,
Which, from sensation's relics, fancy culls;
The spirits of the air, the shuddering ghost,
The genii of the elements, the powers
That give a shape to nature's varied works,
Had life and place in the corrupt belief
Of thy blind heart: yet still thy youthful hands
Were pure of human blood. Then manhood gave
Its strength and ardour to thy frenzied brain;
Thine eager gaze scanned the stupendous scene,
Whose wonders mocked the knowledge of thy pride: 20
Their everlasting and unchanging laws
Reproached thine ignorance. Awhile thou stoodest
Baffled and gloomy; then thou didst sum up
The elements of all that thou didst know;
The changing seasons, winter's leafless reign,
The budding of the heaven-breathing trees,
The eternal orbs that beautify the night,
The sun-rise, and the setting of the moon
Earthquakes and wars, and poisons and disease,
And all their causes, to an abstract point
Converging thou didst give it name, and form,
Intelligence, and unity, and power.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF DANTE.
Dante Alighieri to Guido Caralcanti.
GUIDO, I would that Lappo, thou, and I,
Led by some strong enchantment, might ascend
A magic ship, whose charmed sails should fly
With winds at will where'er our thoughts might wend,
And that no change, nor any evil chance
Should mar our joyous voyage; but it might be,
That even satiety should still enhance
Between our hearts their strict community:
And that the bounteous wizard then would place
Vanna and Bice and my gentle love,
Companions of our wandering, and would grace
With passionate talk wherever we might rove
Our time, and each were as content and free
As I believe that thou and I should be.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK OF MOSCHUS.
Ταν αλα ταν γλαυκαν όταν άνεμος ατρεμα βαλλυ, κ.τ.λ. WHEN winds that move not its calm surface sweep The azure sea, I love the land no more; The siniles of the serene and tranquil deep Tempt my unquiet mind.—But when the roar Of ocean's gray abyss resounds, and foam Gathers upon the sea, and vast waves burst, I turn from the drear aspect to the home Of earth and its deep woods, where interspersed, When winds blow loud, pines make sweet melody. Whose house is some lone bark, whose toil the sea, Whose prey the wandering fish, an evil lot Has chosen.-But I my languid limbs will fling Beneath the plane, where the brook's murmuring Moves the calm spirit, but disturbs it not.