The moonlight is without; and I could lose
An hour to gaze, though Taste and Splendour here,
As in a lustrous fairy palace, reign!
Regardless of the lights that blaze within,
I look upon the wide and silent sea,
That in the shadowy moonbeam sleeps:
How still,
Nor heard to murmur, or to move, it lies;
Shining in Fancy's eye, like the soft gleam,
The eve of pleasant yesterdays!
The clouds
Have all sunk westward, and the host of stars
Seem in their watches set, as gazing on;
While night's fair empress, sole and beautiful,
Holds her illustrious course through the mid heavens
Supreme, the spectacle, for such she looks,
Of gazing worlds!
How different is the scene
That lies beneath this arched window's height!
The town, that murmured through the busy day,
Is hushed; the roofs one solemn breadth of shade
Veils; but the towers, and taper spires above,
The pinnets, and the gray embattled walls,
And masts that throng around the southern pier,
Shine all distinct in light; and mark, remote,
O'er yonder elms, St Mary's modest fane.
Oh! if such views may please, to me they shine
How more attractive! but few years have passed,
Since there I saw youth, health, and happiness,
All circling round an aged sire, whose hairs
Are now in peace gone down; he was to me
A friend, and almost with a father's smile
Hung o'er my infant Muse. The cheerful voice
Of fellowship, the song of harmony,
And mirth, and wit, were there.
That scene is passed:
Cold death and separation have dissolved
The evening circle of once-happy friends!
So has it ever fared, and so must fare,
With all! I see the moonlight watery tract
That shines far off, beneath the forest-shades:
What seems it, but the mirror of that tide,
Which noiseless, 'mid the changes of the world,
Holds its inevitable course, the tide
Of years departing; to the distant eye
Still seeming motionless, though hurrying on
From morn till midnight, bearing, as it flows,
The sails of pleasurable barks! These gleam
To-day, to-morrow other passing sails
Catch the like sunshine of the vernal morn.
Our pleasant days are as the moon's brief light
On the pale ripple, passing as it shines!
But shall the pensive bard for this lament,
Who knows how transitory are all worlds
Before His eye who made them!
Cease the strain;
And welcome still the social intercourse
That soothes the world's loud jarring, till the hour
When, universal darkness wrapping all
This nether scene, a light from heaven shall stream
Through clouds dividing, and a voice be heard:
Here only pure and lasting bliss is found!

More verses by William Lisle Bowles