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And what wert thou, and earth, and stars and sea,
If to the human mind's imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?
Translated from the French of Saint Beuve. By W. B. Evass.
'Tis night; on her mysterious throne
The moon is sitting far on high;
The stars around in silence roll;
As in a calm wide lake the sky
Is mirror'd in my pensive soul.
There, in the waveless flood of thought,
In that clear lake with golden shore,
The vaulted firmament now lies,
With hues yet softer shaded o'er,
Depicted to my wond'ring eyes.
At first, in admiration wrapt,
That scene I leisurely enjoy:
But soon desire yet more demands;
With the wild rapture of a boy,
I strive to grasp it with my hands.
But now to starry dome adieu,
To sky so pure, and orbs so bright!
Within my troubled soul from view
Now veil'd is trembling Cynthia's light;
The scene hath lost its heavenly hue.
Veil not, O Cynthia, thy fair face!
For now the wild desire hath flown.
At length the billows cease to rise;
Again my soul, unruffled grown,
Becomes the mirror of the skies.
Shall I, to seize that lovely scene,
Disturb anew the tranquil lake?
Ah, no! reclining on the shore,
Now that no clouds the azure break,
I'd dream and dream for evermore!
From Rogers's Italy.
The city that so long
Reigned absolute, the mistress of the world;
The mighty vision that the prophets saw,
And trembled; that from nothing, from the least,
The lowliest village. (What but here and there
A red-roofed cabin by a river side?)
Grew into everything; and, year by year,
Patiently, fearlessly, working her way
O'er brook and field, o'er continent and sea,
Not like the merchant with his merchandise,
Or traveller with staff and scrip exploring,
But hand to hand and foot to foot, thro'nosts,
Thro' nations numberless in battle-array,
Each behind each, each, when the other fell,
Up and in arms, at length subdued them all.
The city, where the Gauls, Entering at sunrise through her open gates, And, thro' her streets silent and desolate, Marching to slay, thought they saw gods, not men; The city that by temperance, fortitude, And love of glory, tower'd above the clouds, Then fell—but, falling, kept the highest seat, And in her loneliness, her pomp of woe, Where now she dwells, withdrawn into the wild, Still o'er the mind maintains, from age to age, Her empire undiminish'd. There, as though Grandeur attracted grandeur, are beheld All things that strike, ennoble—from the depths Of Egypt, from the classic fields of Greece, Her groves, her temples—all things that inspire Wonder, delight! Who would not say the forms Most perfect, most divine, had by consent, Flock'd thither to abide eternally, Within those silent chambers where they dwell, In happy intercourse?
TO THE OCEAN.
Expless, ever-sounding sea,
Image of Eternity!
Troubled, with unconscious breast,
Like the dead without their rest;
Deaf unto thy own wild roar,
Heard at once on every shore;
Stretching on from pole to pole,
Far as suns and seasons roll,
Far as reign of night and day,—
Sounding on, away—away!
Oh! what precious things there be,
Shrined and sepulchred in thee!
Gems and gold from every eye,
Hid within thy bosom lie:
Many a treasure-laden bark
Rests within thy caverns dark;
And where towers and temples rose,
Buried continents repose:
Giant secrets of thy breast,
With their thousand isles of rest—
With their brave and beauteous forms,
Undisturb'd beneath thy storms;
In a safe and peaceful home,
Where the mourner may not come,
Nor the stranger rudely tread
O'er their calm and coral bed.
Where the ocean buried lies,
May no monuments arise,
For thy bosom bears no trace
Of our evanescent race:
On thy wild and wandering wave,
Bloom no laurels for the grave;
O'er thy dread, unfathom'd gloom,
Tower no trophies for the tomb.
But there comes a day of dread,
To reclaim thy thousand dead;
Bursting from thy dark control,
While in fire thy billows roll,
Shall that countless multitude
Soar from out thy shrinking flood,
Thy mistress moon be changed to blood!
And the sun, with aspect drear,
Look upon this parting sphere,
At once his startled orb look wan,
On His cross who died for man:
Then shall the archangel stand,
One foot on sea, and one on shore,
And swear with an uplifted hand—
That time shall be no more!
And while Heaven's last thunders roll,
Sounding nature's parting knoll,
Like a burning, blackening scroll,
Reeling from the face of day,
Earth and sea shall flee away!
From Miltonis Paradise Lost.
Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound the champaign head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access denied; and overhead up grew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene, and as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise upsprung:
Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighbouring round.
And higher than that wall a circling row
Of goodliest trees loaden with fairest fruit,
Blossoms and fruits at once a golden hue
Appear'd, with gay enamelled colours mixt:
On which the sun more glad impress'd his beams
That in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath shower'd the earth; so lovely seem'd
That landscape. And of pure now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair: now gentle gales
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambique, off at sea North-east winds blow
Sabasan odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest, with such delay
Well pleased their course, and many a league
Cheer'd with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles.
From a periodical called The Germ, which lived only a few weeks, but counted among its contributors an extraordinary amount of real genius. This beautiful poem appears anonymously.
She fell asleep on Christmas Eve.
Upon her eyes most patient calms
The lids were shut; her uplaid arms
Cover'd her bosom I believe.
Our mother who had lean'd all day
Over the bed from chime to chime,
Then raised herself for the first time,
And as she sat her down, did pray.
Her little work-table was spread
With work to finish. For the glare
Made by her candle, she had care
To work some distance from the bed.
Without, there was a good moon up,
Which left its shadows far within;
The depth of light that it was in
Seem'd hollow like an altar-cup.
Through the small room, with subtle sound
Of flame, by vents the fireshine drove
And redden'd. In its dim alcove
The mirror shed a clearness round.