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Calmly even now; yet if it be ordained
That I return unto my native valley,
And live with Frankfort there, why should I fear
To say I might be happy—happier far
Than I deserve to be. Sweet Rydal Lake :
Am I again to visit thee? to hear
Thy glad waves murmuring all around my soul?
Isabel. Methinks I see us in a cheerful group
Walking along the margin of the bay,
Where our lone summer-house—
Magd. Sweet mossy cell !
So cool—so shady-silent and composed !
A constant evening full of gentle dreams!
Where joy was felt like sadness, and our grief
A melancholy pleasant to be borne.
Hath the green linnet built her nest this spring
In her own rose-bush near the quiet door?
Bright solitary bird 1 she oft will miss
Her human friends: our orchard now must be
A wilderness of sweets, by none beloved.
Isa. One blessed week would soon restore its beauty,
Were we at home. Nature can work no wrong.
The very weeds how lovely 1 the confusion
Doth speak of breezes, sunshine, and the dew.
Magd. I hear the murmuring of a thousand bees
In that bright odorous honeysuckle wall
That once enclosed the happiest family
That ever lived beneath the blessed skies.
Where is that family now? O Isabel,
I feel my soul descending to the grave,
And all these loveliest rural images
Fade, like waves breaking on a dreary shore!
Isa. Even now I see a stream of sunshine bathing
The bright moss-roses round our parlour window!
Oh! were we sitting in that room once more!
Magd. 'Twould seem inhuman to be happy there,
And both my parents dead. How could I walk
On what I used to call my father's walk,
He in his grave! or look upon that tree,
Each year so full of blossoms or of fruit,
Planted by my mother, and her holy name
Graven on its stem by mine own infant hands !
Art thou a thing of mortal birth,
Whose happy home is on our earth?
Does human blood with life imbue
Those wandering veins of heavenly blue
That stray along thy forehead fair,
Lost 'mid a gleam of golden hair?
Oh! can that light and airy breath
Steal from a being doomed to death;
Those features to the grave be sent
In sleep thus mutely eloquent?
Or art thou, what thy form would seem,
The phantom of a blessed dream?
Oh! that my spirit's eye could see
Whence burst those gleams of ecstasy
That light of dreaming soul appears
To play from thoughts above thy years.
Thou smil'st as if thy soul were soaring
To heaven, and heaven's God adoring !
And who can tell what visions high
May bless an infant's sleeping eye
What brighter throne can brightness find
To reign on than an infant's mind,
Ere sin destroy or error dim
The glory of the seraphim?
Oh! vision fair ! that I could be
Again as young, as pure as thee!
Wain wish ! the rainbow's radiant form
...May view, but cannot brave the storm:
Years can bedim the gorgeous dyes
That paint the bird of Paradise.
And years, so fate hath ordered, roll
Clouds o'er the summer of the soul.
Fair was that face as break of dawn,
When o'er its beauty sleep was drawn
Like a thin veil that half-concealed
The light of soul, and half-revealed.
While thy hushed heart with visions wrought,
Each trembling eyelash moved with thought,
And things we dream, but ne'er can speak,
Like clouds came floating o'er thy cheek,
Such summer-clouds as travel light,
When the soul's heaven lies calm and bright;
Till thou awok'st—then to thine eye
Thy whole heart leapt in ecstasy!
And lovely is that heart of thine,
Or sure these eyes could never shine
With such a wild, yet bashful glee,
Gay, half-o'ercome timidity
Magnificent creature! so stately and bright!
In the pride of thy spirit pursuing thy flight;
For what hath the child of the desert to dread,
Wafting up his own mountains that far-beaming head;
Or borne like a whirlwind down on the vale!
Hail! king of the wild and the beautiful!—hail!
Hail! idol divine !—whom nature hath borne
O'er a hundred hill-tops since the mists of the morn,
Whom the pilgrim lone wandering on mountain and
As the vision glides by him, may blameless adore:
For the joy of the happy, the strength of the free,
Are spread in a garment of glory o'er thee,
Up! up to yon cliff! like a king to his throne !
O'er the black silent forest piled lofty and lone—
A throne which the eagle is glad to resign
Unto footsteps so fleet and so fearless as thine.
There the bright heather springs up in love of thy
Lo! the clouds in the depths of the sky are at rest;
And the race of the wild winds is o'er on the hill !
In the hush of the mountains, ye antlers lie still !—
Though your branches now toss in the storm of delight,
Like the arms of the pine on yon shelterless height,
One moment—thou bright apparition—delay!
Then melt o'er the crags, like the sun from the day.
His voyage is o'er—as if struck by a spell,
He motionless stands in the hush of the dell;
There softly and slowly sinks down on his breast,
In the midst of his pastime enamoured of rest.
A stream in a clear pool that endeth its race—
A dancing ray chained to one sunshiny place-
A cloud by the winds to calm solitude driven-
A hurricane dead in the silence of heaven.
Fit couch of repose for a pilgrim like thee:
Magnificent prison enclosing the free;
With rock wall-encircled—with precipice crowned-
Which, awoke by the sun, thou canst clear at a bound.
'Mid the fern and the heather kind nature doth keep
One bright spot of green for her favourite's sleep;
And close to that covert, as clear to the skies
When their blue depths are cloudless, a little lake lies,
Where the creature at rest can his image behold,
Looking up through the radiance as bright and as bold.
Yes: fierce looks thy nature e'en hushed in repose-
In the depths of thy desert regardless of foes,
Thy bold antlers call on the hunter afar,
With a haughty defiance to come to the war.
No outrage is war to a creature like thee;
The buglehorn fills thy wild spirit with glee,
As thou bearest thy neck on the wings of the wind,
And the laggardly gaze-hound is toiling behind.
In the beams of thy forehead, that glitter with death,
In feet that draw power from the touch of the heath-
In the wide raging torrent that lends thee its roar-
In the cliff that once trod, must be trodden no more—
Thy trust—'mid the dangers that threaten thy reign :
—But what if the stag on the mountain be slain?
On the brink of the rock—lo! he standeth at bay,
Like a victor that falls at the close of the day-
While the hunter and hound in their terror retreat
From the death that is spurned from his furious feet;
How mournfully this burial-ground
Sleeps 'mid old Ocean's solemn sound,
Who rolls his bright and sunny waves
All round these deaf and silent graves !
The cold wan light that glimmers here,
The sickly wild-flowers may not cheer;
If here, with solitary hum,
The wandering mountain-bee doth come,
"Mid the pale blossoms short his stay,
To brighter leaves he booms away.
The sea-bird, with a wailing sound,
Alighteth softly on a mound,
And, like an image, sitting there
For hours amid the doleful air,
Seemeth to tell of some dim union,
Some wild and mystical communion,
Connecting with his parent sea
This lonesome stoneless cemetery.
This may not be the burial-place
Of some extinguished kingly race,
Whose name on earth no longer known,
Hath mouldered with the mouldering stone.
That nearest grave, yet brown with mould,
Seems but one summer-twilight old;
Both late and frequent hath the bier
Been on its mournful visit here;
And yon green spot of sunny rest
Is waiting for its destined guest.
I see no little kirk—no bell
On Sabbath tinkleth through this dell;
How beautiful those graves and fair,
That, lying round the house of prayer,
Sleep in the shadow of its grace!
But death hath chosen this rueful place
For his own undivided reign
And nothing tells that e'er again
The sleepers will forsake their bed-
Now, and for everlasting dead,
For Hope with Memory seems fled!
Wild-screaming bird unto the sea
Winging thy flight reluctantly,
Slow floating o'er these grassy tombs
So ghost-like, with thy snow-white plumes,
At once from thy wild shriek I know
What means this place so steeped in woe:
Here, they who perished on the deep
Enjoy at last unrocking sleep;
For ocean, from his wrathful breast,
Flung them into this haven of rest,
Where shroudless, coffinless, they lie-
'Tis the shipwrecked seamen's cemetery.
Here seamen old, with grizzled locks, Shipwrecked before on desert rocks,
And by some wandering vessel taken
From sorrows that seem God-forsaken,
Home-bound, here have met the blast
That wrecked them on death's shore at last !
Old friendless men, who had no tears
To shed, nor any place for fears
In hearts by misery fortified,
And, without terror, sternly died.
Here many a creature moving bright
And glorious in full manhood's might,
Who dared with an untroubled eye
The tempest brooding in the sky,
And loved to hear that music rave,
And danced above the mountain-wave,
Hath quaked on this terrific strand,
All flung like sea-weeds to the land;
A whole crew lying side by side,
Death-dashed at once in all their pride.
And here the bright-haired fair-faced boy,
Who took with him all earthly joy,
From one who weeps both night and day
For her sweet son borne far away,
Escaped at last the cruel deep,
In all his beauty lies asleep;
While she would yield all hopes of grace
For one kiss of his pale cold face |
Oh! I could wail in lonely fear,
For many a woful ghost sits here,
All weeping with their fixed eyes!
And what a dismal sound of sighs
Is mingling with the gentle roar
Of small waves breaking on the shore;
While ocean seems to sport and play
In mockery of its wretched prey !
But list ! a low and moaning sound
At distance heard, like a spirit's song,
And now it reigns above, around,
As if it called the ship along.
The moon is sunk; and a clouded gray
Declares that her course is run,
And like a god who brings the day,
Up mounts the glorious sun.
Soon as his light has warmed the seas,
From the parting cloud fresh blows the breeze;
And that is the spirit whose well-known song
Makes the vessel to sail in joy along.
No fears hath she; her giant form
O'er wrathful surge, through blackening storm,
Majestically calm would go
"Mid the deep darkness white as snow !
But gently now the small waves glide
Like playful lambs o'er a mountain's side.
So stately her bearing, so proud her array,
The main she will traverse for ever and aye.
Many ports will exult at the gleam of her mast;—
Hush ! hush ! thou vain dreamer! this hour is her last.
Five hundred souls in one instant of dread
Are hurried o'er the deck;
And fast the miserable ship
Becomes a lifeless wreck.
Her keel hath struck on a hidden rock,
Her planks are torn asunder,
And down come her masts with a reeling shock,
And a hideous crash like thunder.
Her sails are draggled in the brine,
That gladdened late the skies,
And her pendant, that kissed the fair moonshine,
Down many a fathom lies.
Her beauteous sides, whose rainbow hues
Gleamed softly from below,
And flung a warm and sunny flush
O'er the wreaths of murmuring snow,
To the coral-rocks are hurrying down,
To sleep amid colours as bright as their own.
Oh! many a dream was in the ship
An hour before her death;
And sights of home with sighs disturbed
The sleeper's long-drawn breath.
Instead of the murmur of the sea,
The sailor heard the humming-tree
Alive through all its leaves,
The hum of the spreading sycamore
That grows before his cottage-door,
And the swallow’s song in the eaves.
His arms enclosed a blooming boy,
Who listened with tears of sorrow and joy
To the dangers his father had passed;
And his wife—by turns she wept and smiled,
As she looked on the father of her child,
Returned to her heart at last.
He wakes at the vessel's sudden roll,
And the rush of waters is in his soul.
Astounded, the reeling deck he paces,
"Mid hurrying forms and ghastly faces;
The whole ship's crew are there !
Wailings around and overhead,
Brave spirits stupified or dead,
And madness and despair.
* + *
Now is the ocean's bosom bare,
Unbroken as the floating air;
The ship hath melted quite away,
Like a struggling dream at break of day.
No image meets my wandering eye,
But the new-risen sun and the sunny sky.
Though the night-shades are gone, yet a vapour dull
Bedims the waves so beautiful:
While a low and melancholy moan
Mourns for the glory that hath flown.
MRs HEMANs (Felicia Dorothea Browne) was born at Liverpool on the 25th September 1793.
Her father was a merchant; but, experiencing some 'everses, he removed with his family to Wales, and ther,£e young poetess imbibed that love of nature
which is displayed in all her works. In her fifteenth year she ventured on publication. Her first volume was far from successful; but she persevered, and in 1812 published another, entitled The Domestic Affections, and other Poems. The same year she was
Rhyllon—the residence of Mrs Hemans in Wales.
married to Captain Hemans; but the union does not seem to have been a happy one. She continued her studies, acquiring several languages, and still cultivating poetry. In 1818, Captain Hemans removed to Italy for the benefit of his health. His accomplished wife remained in England, and they never met again. In 1819, she obtained a prize of £50 offered by some patriotic Scotsman for the best poem on the subject of Sir William Wallace. Next year she published The Sceptic. In June 1821, she obtained the prize awarded by the Royal Society of Literature for the best poem on the subject of Dartmoor. Her next effort was a tragedy, the Vespers of Palermo, which was produced at Covent Garden, December 12, 1823; but though supported by the admirable acting of Kemble and Young, it was not successful. In 1826, appeared her best poem, The Forest Sanctuary, and in 1828, Records of Woman. She afterwards produced Lays of Leisure Hours, National Lyrics, &c. In 1829 she paid a visit to Scotland, and was received with great kindness by Sir Walter Scott, Jeffrey, and others of the Scottish literati. In 1830 appeared her Songs of the Affections. The same year she visited Wordsworth, and appears to have been much struck with the secluded beauty of Rydal Lake and Grasmere:
O vale and lake, within your mountain urn
Smiling so tranquilly, and set so deep !
Oft doth your dreamy loveliness return,
Colouring the tender shadows of my sleep
With light Elysian; for the hues that steep
Your shores in melting lustre, seem to float
On golden clouds from spirit-lands remote—
Isles of the blest—and in our memory keep
Their place with holiest harmonies.
Wordsworth said to her one day: ‘I would not give up the mists that spiritualise our mountains for all the blue skies of Italy'—an original and poetical expression. On her return from the Lakes, Mrs Hemans went to reside in Dublin, where her brother, Major Browne, was settled. The education of her family (five boys) occupied much of her time and attention. Ill health, however, pressed heavily on her, and she soon experienced a premature decay of the springs of life. In 1834, appeared her little volume of Hymns for Childhood, and a collection of Scenes and # of Life. She also published some sonnets, under the title of Thoughts during Sickness. Her last strain, produced only about three weeks before her death, was the following fine sonnet, dictated to her brother on Sunday the 26th of April:
How many blessed groups this hour are bending,
Through England's primrose meadow-paths, their way
Toward spire and tower, 'midst shadowy elms
Whence the sweet chimes proclaim the hallowed day!
The halls, from old heroic ages gray,
Pour their fair children forth; and hamlets low,
With whose thick orchard blooms the soft winds play,
Send out their inmates in a happy flow,
Like a freed vernal stream. I may not tread
With them those pathways—to the feverish bed
Of sickness bound; yet, O my God! I bless
Thy mercy that with Sabbath peace hath filled
My chastened heart, and all its throbbings stilled
To one deep calm of lowliest thankfulness.
This admirable woman and sweet poetess died on the 16th of May 1835, aged forty-one. She was interred in St Anne's Church, Dublin, and over her grave were inscribed some lines from one of her own dirges: Calm on the bosom of thy God, Fair spirit ! rest thee now ! Even while with us thy footsteps trode, His seal was on thy brow. Dust to its narrow house beneath ! Soul to its place on high ! They that have seen thy look in death, No more may fear to die.
A complete collection of the works of Mrs Hemans, with a memoir by her sister, has been published in six volumes. Though highly popular, and in many respects excellent, we do not think that much of the poetry of Mrs Hemans will descend to posterity. There is, as Scott hinted, “too many flowers for the fruit; more for the ear and fancy, than for the heart and intellect. Some of her shorter pieces and her lyrical productions are touching and beautiful both in sentiment and expression. The Voice of Spring. I come, I come! ye have called me long, I come o'er the mountains with light and song; Ye may trace my step o'er the wakening earth, By the winds which tell of the violet's birth, By the primrose stars in the shadowy grass, By the green leaves opening as I pass.
I have passed o'er the hills of the stormy North,
And the larch has hung all his tassels forth,
The fisher is out on the sunny sea,
And the reindeer bounds through the pasture free,
And the pine has a fringe of softer green,
And the moss looks bright where my step has been.
I have sent through the wood-paths a gentle sigh,
And called out each voice of the deep-blue sky,
From the night-bird's lay through the starry time,
In the groves of the soft Hesperian clime,
To the swan's wild note by the Iceland lakes,
When the dark fir-bough into verdure breaks.
From the streams and founts I have loosed the chain;
They are sweeping on to the silvery main,
They are flashing down from the mountain-brows,
They are flinging spray on the forest boughs,
They are bursting fresh from their sparry caves,
And the earth resounds with the joy of waves.
Come forth, O ye children of gladness, come!
Where the violets lie may now be your home.
Ye of the rose-cheek and dew-bright eye,
And the bounding footstep, to meet me fly;
With the lyre, and the wreath, and the joyous lay,
Come forth to the sunshine, I may not stay.
Away from the dwellings of careworn men,
The waters are sparkling in wood and glen;
Away from the chamber and dusky hearth,
The young leaves are dancing in breezy mirth;
Their light stems thrill to the wild-wood strains,
And Youth is abroad in my green domains.
The summer is hastening, on soft winds borne,
Ye may press the grape, ye may bind the corn;
For me I depart to a brighter shore—
Ye are marked by care, ye are mine no more.
I go where the loved who have left you dwell,
And : flowers are not Death's—fare ye well, farewell!
The stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O'er all the pleasant land.
The deer across their greensward bound
Through shade and sunny gleam,
And the swan glides past them with the sound
Of some rejoicing stream.
The merry Homes of England!
Around their hearths by night,
What gladsome looks of household love
Meet in the ruddy light!
There woman's voice flows forth in song,
Or childhood's tale is told,
Or lips move tunefully along
Some glorious page of old.
BERNARD BARTON, one of the Society of Friends, published in 1820 a volume of miscellaneous poems, which attracted notice both for their elegant simplicity, and purity of style and feeling, and because they were written by a Quaker. ‘The staple of the whole poems, says a critic in the Edinburgh Review, “is description and meditation—description of quiet home scenery, sweetly and feelingly wrought out —and meditation, overshaded with tenderness, and exalted by devotion—but all terminating in soothing, and even cheerful views of the condition and prospects of mortality. Mr Barton was employed in a banking establishment at Woodbridge, in Suffolk, and he seems to have contemplated abandoning his profession for a literary life. Byron remonstrated against such a step. “Do not renounce writing,' he #. “but never trust entirely to authorship.
If you have a profession, retain it; it will be, like Prior's fellowship, a last and sure resource.” Charles Lamb also wrote to him as follows: “Throw yourself on the world, without any rational plan of support beyond what the chance employ of booksellers would afford you! Throw yourself rather, my dear sir, from the steep Tarpeian rock slap-dash headlong upon iron spikes. If you have but five consolatory minutes between the desk and the bed, make much of them, and live a century in them, rather than turn slave to the booksellers. They are Turks and Tartars when they have poor authors at their beck. Hitherto you have been at arm's-length from them—come not within their grasp. I have known many authors want for bread —some repining, others enjoying the blessed security of a counting-house—all agreeing they had rather have been tailors, weavers—what not?—rather than the things they were. I have known some starved, some go mad, one dear friend literally dying in a workhouse. Oh, you know not—may you never know—the miseries of subsisting by authorship !’ There is some exaggeration here. We have known authors by profession who lived cheerfully and comfortably, labouring at the stated sum per sheet as regularly as the weaver at his loom, or the tailor on his board; but dignified with the consciousness of following a high and ennobling occupation, with all the mighty minds of past ages as their daily friends and companions. The bane of such a life, when fervid genius is involved, is its uncertainty and its temptations, and the almost invariable incompatibility of the poetical temperament with habits of business and steady application. Yet let us remember the examples of Shakspeare, Dryden, and Pope-all regular and constant labourers—and, in our own day, of Scott, Southey, Moore, and many others. The fault is more generally with the author than with the public. In the particular case of Bernard Barton, however, Lamb counselled wisely. He had not the vigour and popular talents requisite for marketable literature; and of this he would seem to have been conscious, for he abandoned his dream of exclusive authorship. Jeffrey pronounced him “a man of a fine and cultivated, rather than of a bold and original mind. Mr Barton published several volumes of poetry, The Widow's Tale, Devotional Verses, &c. His poetry is highly honourable to his taste and feelings as a man. A pension of £100 a year was awarded to Mr Barton in his latter days, and he died in February 1849, at Woodbridge, in Suffolk.