Verses Addressed To My Two Nephews
ON SAINT HELEN'S DAY, 1809.
DEAR Boys!--dismiss'd awhile from school,
From sober learning's thorny rule,--
The annual race of glory run,
The prize bestow'd, the laurels won,--
Ye leave the scientific dome,
While noisy rapture hails your home:
Home--cherish'd spot! whose magic power
Can charm with hope the studious hour;
And where the heart--however far--
Points, like the needle to its star!
And now, with many a fond oration,
Ye ask, to crown this dear vacation,
Saturnian time of sport and play,
A FÊTE !--to grace SAINT HELEN'S DAY !
But will the Saint propitious see
A Fête dear Boys! prepar'd for me?
I!--who her altar never sought,
An heretic! who idly thought
She liv'd alone in pagan fame,
And half forgot her sainted name!
But--since that name, entwin'd with palms,
The legend's deathless page embalms,
And since historic truth must own
Her crested votary fill'd a throne--
We'll lay our offerings at her shrine,
And call her, as she is, divine!
Then haste, dear Boys! and deck the bowers,
This chosen day, with festive flowers!
The votive bouquet joyful bring;
And bid your muse, on lofty wing,
The steep Parnassian summits climb,
And weave the tributary rhyme.
The soothing song which ye rehearse--
Though form'd of perishable verse,
And, like the bouquet , born to die--
Shall fill with tears affection's eye;
Shall touch, with eloquence confest,
The chords which vibrate in her breast!
Then hither bring the early friend,
With whom your bounding hearts unbend;
Till then, in vain the Fête prepared--
What Fête, unless by friendship shar'd?
Together, happy band! advance;
Together frame the sportive dance;
Together tread the mimic stage,
The TALMAS of another age;
And then, to crown this favor'd night,
Unquestion'd symbol of delight,
The soaring rocket swift shall rise,
And, sweeping, gild the midnight skies;
Bright wheels of fire shall rapid turn;
And suns, that soon must set, shall burn;
SAINT HELEN , with a smile, shall view
Her rites all paid in order due.
The Saint, become my patron now,
To her and you I breathe my vow:
Listen, dear Boys! nor take amiss
A lesson, with a parting kiss--
Your life has clos'd its baby span,
And childhood ripens into man:
On youth's gay threshold now ye tread;
The path unfolds, with roses spread,
That leads the unsuspecting guest
Where Pleasure holds her Circean feast;
With bosoms yet from evil free,
Now promise to the Saint and me,
Oft as the years, on circling wing,
This fond returning day shall bring,
While o'er the world ye lightly roam,
Far from the long-lost scene of home,
This day in Pleasure's course to pause,
This day let Reason plead her cause!
When come the years--for come they must--
When her ye love is laid in dust;
Her who for you has learn'd to prove
A mother's care--a mother's love!
From you all ill has sought to chase,
And fill a mother's vacant place:
Still on this day, to duty true,
Remember that she liv'd for you!
Ah! give her one recording sigh,
Nor pass this day with tearless eye!
Still may its chosen hours impart
The throb of virtue to the heart,
And be the talisman whose spell
Shall Passion's wild delirium quell;
Controul, with some good angel's power,
Seduction in her smiling hour.
This day, from all her wiles secure,
With nobler hopes, with purpose pure,
Resolve to feel that best delight
Reserv'd for those who live aright:
And thus, dear Boys! your tribute pay;
Thus consecrate SAINT HELEN'S DAY!
An Epistle To Dr. Moore
Whether dispensing hope, and ease
To the pale victim of disease,
Or in the social crowd you sit,
And charm the group with sense and wit,
Moore's partial ear will not disdain
Attention to my artless strain.
An Epistle To Dr. Moore, Author Of A View Of Society And Manners In France, Switzerland And Germany
I mean no giddy heights to climb,
And vainly toil to be sublime;
While every line with labour wrought,
Is swell'd with tropes for want of thought:
Nor shall I call the Muse to shed
Castalian drops upon my head;
Or send me from Parnassian bowers
A chaplet wove of fancy's flowers.
At present all such aid I slight—
My heart instructs me how to write.
That softer glide my hours along,
That still my griefs are sooth'd by song,
That still my careless numbers flow
To your successful skill I owe;
You, who when sickness o'er me hung,
And languor had my lyre unstrung,
With treasures of the healing art,
With friendship's ardor at your heart,
From sickness snatch'd her early prey
And bade fair health—the goddess gay,
With sprightly air, and winning grace,
With laughing eye, and rosy face,
Accustom'd when you call to hear,
On her light pinion hasten near,
And swift restore with influence kind,
My weaken'd frame, my drooping mind.
With like benignity, and zeal,
The mental malady to heal,
To stop the fruitless, hopeless tear,
The life you lengthen'd, render dear,
To charm by fancy's powerful vein,
'The written troubles of the brain,'
From gayer scenes, compassion led
Your frequent footsteps to my shed:
And knowing that the Muses' art
Has power to ease an aching heart,
You sooth'd that heart with partial praise,
And I before too fond of lays,
While others pant for solid gain,
Grasp at a laurel sprig—in vain—
You could not chill with frown severe
The madness to my soul so dear;
For when Apollo came to store
Your mind with salutary lore,
The god I ween, was pleas'd to dart
A ray from Pindus on your heart;
Your willing bosom caught the fire,
And still is partial to the lyre.
But now from you at distance plac'd
Where Epping spreads a woody waste;
Tho' unrestrain'd my fancy flies,
And views in air her fabrics rise,
And paints with brighter bloom the flowers,
Bids Dryads people all the bowers,
And Echoes speak from every hill,
And Naiads pour each little rill,
And bands of Sylphs with pride unfold
Their azure plumage mix'd with gold,
My heart remembers with a sigh
That you are now no longer nigh.
The magic scenes no more engage,
I quit them for your various page;
Where, with delight I traverse o'er
The foreign paths you trod before:
Ah not in vain those paths you trac'd,
With heart to feel, with powers to taste!
Amid the ever-jocund train
Who sport upon the banks of Seine,
In your light Frenchman pleas'd I see
His nation's gay epitome;
Whose careless hours glide smooth along,
Who charms MISFORTUNE with a song.
She comes not as on Albion's plain,
With death, and madness in her train;
For here, her keenest sharpest dart
May raze, but cannot pierce the heart.
Yet he whose spirit light as air
Calls life a jest, and laughs at care,
Feels the strong force of pity's voice,
And bids afflicted love rejoice;
Love, such as fills the poet's page
Love, such as form'd the golden age—
FANCHON, thy grateful look I see—
I share thy joys—I weep with thee—
What eye has read without a tear
A tale to nature's heart so dear!
There, dress'd in each sublimer grace
Geneva's happy scene I trace;
Her lake, from whose broad bosom thrown
Rushes the loud impetuous Rhone,
And bears his waves with mazy sweep
In rapid torrents to the deep—
Oh for a Muse less weak of wing,
High on yon Alpine steeps to spring,
And tell in verse what they disclose
As well as you have told in prose;
How wrapt in snows and icy showers,
Eternal winter, horrid lowers
Upon the mountain's awful brow,
While purple summer blooms below;
How icy structures rear their forms
Pale products of ten thousand storms;
Where the full sun-beam powerless falls
On crystal arches, columns, walls,
Yet paints the proud fantastic height
With all the various hues of light.
Why is no poet call'd to birth
In such a favour'd spot of earth?
How high his vent'rous Muse might rise,
And proudly scorn to ask supplies
From the Parnassian hill, the fire
Of verse, Mont Blanc might well inspire.
O SWITZERLAND! how oft these eyes
Desire to view thy mountains rise;
How fancy loves thy steeps to climb,
So wild, so solemn, so sublime;
And o'er thy happy vales to roam,
Where freedom rears her humble home.
Ah, how unlike each social grace
Which binds in love thy manly race,
The HOLLANDERS phlegmatic ease
Too cold to love, too dull to please;
Who feel no sympathetic woe,
Nor sympathetic joy bestow,
But fancy words are only made
To serve the purposes of trade,
And when they neither buy, nor sell,
Think silence answers quite as well.
Now in his happiest light is seen
VOLTAIRE, when evening chas'd his spleen,
And plac'd at supper with his friends,
The playful flash of wit descends—
Of names renown'd you clearly shew
The finer traits we wish to know—
To Prussia's martial clime I stray
And see how FREDERIC spends the day;
Behold him rise at dawning light
To form his troops for future fight;
Thro' the firm ranks his glances pierce,
Where discipline, with aspect fierce,
And unrelenting breast, is seen
Degrading man to a machine;
My female heart delights to turn
Where GREATNESS seems not quite so stern:
Mild on th' IMPERIAL BROW she glows,
And lives to soften human woes.
But lo! on ocean's stormy breast
I see majestic VENICE rest;
While round her spires the billows rave,
Inverted splendours gild the wave.
Fair liberty has rear'd with toil,
Her fabric on this marshy soil.
She fled those banks with scornful pride,
Where classic Po devolves her tide:
Yet here her unrelenting laws
Are deaf to nature's, freedom's cause.
Unjust! they seal'd FOSCARI'S doom,
An exile in his early bloom.
And he, who bore the rack unmov'd,
Divided far from those he lov'd,
From all the social hour can give,
From all that make it bliss to live,
These worst of ills refus'd to bear,
And died, the victim of despair.
An eye of wonder let me raise,
While on imperial ROME I gaze.
But oh! no more in glory bright
She fills with awe th' astonish'd sight:
Her mould'ring fanes in ruin trac'd,
Lie scatter'd on Campania's waste.
Nor only these—alas! we find
The wreck involves the human mind:
The lords of earth now drag a chain
Beneath a pontiff's feeble reign;
The soil that gave a Cato birth
No longer yields heroic worth,
Whose image lives but on the bust,
Or consecrates the medal's rust:
Yet if no heart of modern frame
Glows with the antient hero's flame,
The dire Arena's horrid stage
Is banish'd from this milder age;
Those savage virtues too are fled
At which the human feelings bled.
While now at Virgil's tomb you bend,
O let me on your steps attend!
Kneel on the turf that blossoms round,
And kiss, with lips devout, the ground.
I feel how oft his magic powers
Shed pleasure on my lonely hours.
Tho' hid from me the classic tongue,
In which his heav'nly strain was sung,
In Dryden's tuneful lines, I pierce
The shaded beauties of his verse.
Bright be the rip'ning beam, that shines
Fair FLORENCE, on thy purple vines!
And ever pure the fanning gale
That pants in Arno's myrtle vale!
Here, when the barb'rous northern race,
Dire foes to every muse, and grace,
Had doom'd the banish'd arts to roam
The lovely wand'rers found a home;
And shed round Leo's triple crown
Unfading rays of bright renown.
Who e'er has felt his bosom glow
With knowledge, or the wish to know;
Has e'er from books with transport caught
The rich accession of a thought;
Perceiv'd with conscious pride, he feels
The sentiment which taste reveals;
Let all who joys like these possess,
Thy vale, enchanting FLORENCE bless—
O had the arts benignant light
No more reviv'd from Gothic night,
Earth had been one vast scene of strife,
Or one drear void had sadden'd life;
Lost had been all the sage has taught,
The painter's sketch, the poet's thought,
The force of sense, the charm of wit,
Nor ever had your page been writ;
That soothing page, which care beguiles,
And dresses truth in fancy's smiles:
For not with hostile step you prest
Each foreign soil, a thankless guest!
While travellers who want the skill
To mark the shapes of good and ill,
With vacant stare thro' Europe range,
And deem all bad, because 'tis strange;
Thro' varying modes of life, you trace
The finer trait, the latent grace,
And where thro' every vain disguise
You view the human follies rise,
The stroke of irony you dart
With force to mend, not wound the heart.
While intellectual objects share
Your mind's extensive view, you bear,
Quite free from spleen's incumb'ring load,
The little evils on the road—
So, while the path of life I tread,
A path to me with briers spread;
Let me its tangled mazes spy
Like you, with gay, good-humour'd eye;
Nor at those thorny tracts repine,
The treasure of your friendship, mine.
An Address To Poetry
While envious crowds the summit view,
Where Danger with Ambition strays;
Or far, with anxious step, pursue
Pale Av'rice, thro' his winding ways;
The selfish passions in their train,
Whose force the social ties unbind,
And chill the love of human kind,
And make fond Nature's best emotions vain;
O, poesy! O nymph most dear,
To whom I early gave my heart,--
Whose voice is sweetest to my ear
Of aught in nature or in art;
Thou, who canst all my breast controul,
Come, and thy harp of various cadence bring,
And long with melting music swell the string
That suits the present temper of my soul.
O! ever gild my path of woe,
And I the ills of life can bear;
Let but thy lovely visions glow,
And chase the forms of real care;
O still, when tempted to repine
At partial Fortune's frown severe,
Wipe from my eyes the anxious tear,
And whisper that thy soothing joys are mine!
When did my fancy ever frame
A dream of joy by thee unblest?
When first my lips pronounc'd thy name,
New pleasure warm'd my infant breast.
I lov'd to form the jingling rhyme,
The measur'd sounds, tho' rude, my ear could please,
Could give the little pains of childhood ease,
And long have sooth'd the keener pains of time.
The idle crowd in fashion's train,
Their trifling comment, pert reply,
Who talk so much, yet talk in vain,
How pleas'd for thee, O nymph, I fly!
For thine is all the wealth of mind,
Thine the unborrow'd gems of thought;
The flash of light by souls refin'd,
From heav'n's empyreal source exulting caught.
And ah! when destin'd to forego
The social hour with those I love,--
That charm which brightens all below,
That joy all other joys above,
And dearer to this breast of mine,
O Muse! than aught thy magic power can give,--
Then on the gloom of lonely sadness shine,
And bid thy airy forms around me live.
Thy page, O SHAKESPEARE ! let me view,
Thine! at whose name my bosom glows;
Proud that my earliest breath I drew
In that blest isle where SHAKESPEARE rose!
Where shall my dazzled glances roll?
Shall I pursue gay Ariel's flight?
Or wander where those hags of night
With deeds unnam'd shall freeze my trembling soul?
Plunge me, foul sisters! in the gloom
Ye wrap around yon blasted heath:
To hear the harrowing rite I come,
That calls the angry shades from death!
Away--my frighted bosom spare!
Let true Cordelia pour her filial sigh,
Let Desdemona lift her pleading eye,
And poor Ophelia sing in wild despair!
When the bright noon of summer streams
In one wide flash of lavish day,
As soon shall mortal count the beams,
As tell the powers of SHAKESPEARE'S lay!
O, Nature's Poet! the untaught,
The simple mind thy tale pursues,
And wonders by what art it views
The perfect image of each native thought.
In those still moments, when the breast,
Expanded, leaves its cares behind,
Glows by some higher thought possest,
And feels the energies of mind;
Then, awful MILTON , raise the veil
That hides from human eye the heav'nly throng!
Immortal sons of light! I hear your song,
I hear your high-tun'd harps creation hail!
Well might creation claim your care,
And well the string of rapture move,
When all was perfect, good, and fair,
When all was music, joy, and love!
Ere Evil's inauspicious birth
Chang'd Nature's harmony to strife;
And wild Remorse, abhorring life,
And deep Affliction, spread their shade on earth.
Blest Poesy! O, sent to calm
The human pains which all must feel,
Still shed on life thy precious balm,
And every wound of nature heal!
Is there a heart of human frame
Along the burning track of torrid light,
Or 'mid the fearful waste of polar night,
That never glow'd at thy inspiring name?
Ye Southern Isles,* emerg'd so late
Where the Pacific billow rolls,
Witness, though rude your simple state,
How heav'n-taught verse can melt your souls!
Say, when you hear the wand'ring bard,
How thrill'd ye listen to his lay,
By what kind arts ye court his stay,--
All savage life affords his sure reward.
So, when great HOMER 'S chiefs prepare,
Awhile from War's rude toils releas'd,
The pious hecatomb, and share
The flowing bowl, and genial feast:
Some heav'nly minstrel sweeps the lyre,
While all applaud the poet's native art;
For him they heap the viand's choicest part,
And copious goblets crown the Muse's fire.
Ev'n here , in scenes of pride and gain,
Where faint each genuine feeling glows;
Here , Nature asks, in want and pain,
The dear illusions verse bestows;
The poor, from hunger, and from cold,
Spare one small coin, the ballad's price,
Admire their poet's quaint device,
And marvel much at all his rhymes unfold.
Ye children, lost in forests drear,
Still o'er your wrongs each bosom grieves,
And long the red-breast shall be dear,
Who strew'd each little corpse with leaves;
For you my earliest tears were shed,
For you the gaudy doll I pleas'd forsook,
And heard, with hands uprais'd, and eager look,
The cruel tale, and wish'd ye were not dead!
And still on Scotia's northern shore,
"At times, between the rushing blast,"
Recording mem'ry loves to pour
The mournful song of ages past;
Come, lonely Bard "of other years!"
While dim the half-seen moon of varying skies,
While sad the wind along the grey moss sighs,
And give my pensive heart "the joy of tears!"
The various tropes that splendour dart
Around the modern poet's line,
Where, borrow'd from the sphere of art,
Unnumber'd gay allusions shine,
Have not a charm my breast to please
Like the blue mist, the meteor's beam,
The dark-brow'd rock, the mountain stream,
And the light thistle waving in the breeze.
Wild Poesy, in haunts sublime,
Delights her lofty note to pour;
She loves the hanging rock to climb,
And hear the sweeping torrent roar!
The little scene of cultur'd grace
But faintly her expanded bosom warms;
She seeks the daring stroke, the awful charms,
Which Nature's pencil throws on Nature's face.
O, Nature! thou whose works divine
Such rapture in this breast inspire,
As makes me dream one spark is mine
Of Poesy's celestial fire;
When doom'd, "in cities pent," to leave
The kindling morn's unfolding view,
Which ever wears some aspect new,
And all the shadowy forms of soothing eve;
Then, THOMSON , then be ever near,
And paint whatever season reigns;
Still let me see the varying year,
And worship Nature in thy strains;
Now, when the wint'ry tempests roll,
Unfold their dark and desolating form,
Rush in the savage madness of the storm,
And spread those horrors that exalt my soul!
And, POPE the music of thy verse
Shall winter's dreary gloom dispel,
And fond remembrance oft rehearse
The moral song she knows so well;
The sportive sylphs shall flutter here,--
There Eloise, in anguish pale,
"Kiss with cold lips the sacred veil,
"And drop with every bead too soft a tear!"
When disappointment's sick'ning pain
With chilling sadness numbs my breast,
That feels its dearest hope was vain,
And bids its fruitless struggles rest;
When those for whom I wish to live,
With cold suspicion wrong my aching heart;
Or, doom'd from those for ever lov'd to part,
And feel a sharper pang than death can give;
Then with the mournful Bard I go,
Whom "melancholy mark'd her own,"
While tolls the curfew, solemn, slow,
And wander amid graves unknown;
With yon pale orb, lov'd poet, come!
While from those elms long shadows spread,
And where the lines of light are shed,
Read the fond record of the rustic tomb!
Or let me o'er old Conway's flood
Hang on the frowning rock, and trace
The characters that, wove in blood,
Stamp'd the dire fate of EDWARD'S race;
Proud tyrant! tear thy laurell'd plume;
How poor thy vain pretence to deathless fame!
The injur'd Muse records thy lasting shame,
And she has power to "ratify thy doom."
Nature, when first she smiling came,
To wake within the human breast
The sacred Muse's hallow'd flame,
And earth, with heav'n's rich spirit blest!
Nature in that auspicious hour,
With awful mandate, bade the Bard
The register of glory guard,
And gave him o'er all mortal honours power.
Can Fame on Painting's aid rely?
Or lean on Sculpture's trophy'd bust?--
The faithless colours bloom to die,
The crumbling pillar mocks its trust;
But thou, O Muse, immortal maid!
Canst paint the godlike deeds that praise inspire,
Or worth, that lives but in the mind's desire,
In tints that only shall with Nature fade!
O tell me, partial nymph! what rite,
What incense sweet, what homage true,
Draws from thy fount of purest light
The flame it lends a chosen few?
Alas! these lips can never frame
The mystic vow that moves thy breast;
Yet by thy joys my life is blest,
And my fond soul shall consecrate thy name.