POEMS ON TRAVEL
R. M. LEONARD
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK
TORONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY
OXFORD: HORACE HART
PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY
INDEX OF AUTHORS
- Arnold, Matthew (1822-88)
- Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen (b. 1840)
- Bridges, Robert (b. 1844)
- Browning, Robert (1812-89)
- Butler, Arthur Grey (1831-1909)
- Byron, George Gordon, Lord
- Calverley, Charles Stuart (1831-84)
- Cleveland, John (1613-58)
- Clough, Arthur Hugh (1819-61)
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834)
- Cowper, William (1731-1800)
- Faber, Frederick William (1814-63)
- Godley, Alfred Denis (b. 1856)
- Goldsmith, Oliver (1728-74)
- Hardy, Thomas (b. 1840)
- Hood, Thomas (1799-1845)
- Keats, John (1795-1821)
- Landor, Walter Savage (1775-1864)
- Locker-Lampson, Frederick (1821-95)
- Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
- Mangan, James Clarence (1803-49)
- Marvell, Andrew (1621-78)
- Newman, John Henry (1801-90)
- Phillimore, John Swinnerton (b.
- Prior, Matthew (1664-1721)
- Rodd, Sir Rennell (b. 1858)
- Rogers, Samuel (1763-1855)
- Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828-82)
- Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822)
- Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850-94)
- Symonds, John Addington (1840-93)
- Tennyson, Alfred, Lord (1809-92)
- Trench, Richard Chenevix (1807-86)
- Watts-Dunton, Theodore (1832-1914)
- Wordsworth, William (1770-1850)
TRAVELS BY THE FIRESIDE
The ceaseless rain is falling fast,
And yonder gilded vane,
Immovable for three days past,
Points to the misty main.
It drives me in upon myself
And to the fireside gleams,
To pleasant books that crowd my shelf,
And still more pleasant dreams.
I read whatever bards have sung
Of lands beyond the sea,
And the bright days when I was young
Come thronging back to me.
In fancy I can hear again
The Alpine torrent's roar,
The mule-bells on the hills of Spain,
The sea at Elsinore.
I see the convent's gleaming wall
Rise from its groves of pine,
And towers of old cathedrals tall,
And castles by the Rhine.
I journey on by park and spire,
Beneath centennial trees,
Through fields with poppies all on fire,
And gleams of distant seas.
I fear no more the dust and heat,
No more I fear fatigue,
While journeying with another's feet
O'er many a lengthening league.
Let others traverse sea and land,
And toil through various climes,
I turn the world round with my hand
Reading these poets' rhymes.
From them I learn whatever lies
Beneath each changing zone,
And see, when looking with their eyes,
Better than with mine own.
FANCIES FOR MEMORIES
Over the great windy waters, and over the clear-crested summits,
Unto the sun and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth,
Come, let us go,—to a land wherein gods of the old time wandered,
Where every breath even now changes to ether divine.
Come, let us go; though withal a voice whisper, 'The world that we live in,
Whithersoever we turn, still is the same narrow crib;
'Tis but to prove limitation, and measure a cord, that we travel;
Let who would 'scape and be free go to his chamber and think;
'Tis but to change idle fancies for memories wilfully falser;
'Tis but to go and have been.'—Come, little bark! let us go.
THE CRY OF ULYSSES
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men,
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheldt, or wandering Po;
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor
Against the houseless stranger shuts the door;
Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,
A weary waste expanding to the skies:
Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
My heart untravelled fondly turns to thee;
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain,
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs—and God has given my share—
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose.
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill,
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations passed,
Here to return—and die at home at last.
I TRAVELLED AMONG UNKNOWN MEN
I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.
'Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore
A second time; for still I seem
To love thee more and more.
Among thy mountains did I feel
The joy of my desire;
And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire.
Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed,
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy's eyes surveyed.
WHERE LIES THE LAND
Where lies the land to which yon ship must go?
Fresh as a lark mounting at break of day,
Festively she puts forth in trim array;
Is she for tropic suns, or polar snow?
What boots the inquiry?—Neither friend nor foe
She cares for; let her travel where she may,
She finds familiar names, a beaten way
Ever before her, and a wind to blow.
Yet still I ask, what haven is her mark?
And, almost as it was when ships were rare,
(From time to time, like pilgrims, here and there
Crossing the waters) doubt, and something dark,
Of the old sea some reverential fear,
Is with me at thy farewell, joyous bark!
Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding,
Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West,
That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding,
Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest?
Ah! soon, when Winter has all our vales opprest,
When skies are cold and misty, and hail is hurling,
Wilt thóu glìde on the blue Pacific, or rest
In a summer haven asleep, thy white sails furling.
I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest,
Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air:
I watch thee enter unerringly where thou goest,
And anchor queen of the strange shipping there,
Thy sails for awnings spread, thy masts bare;
Nor is aught from the foaming reef to the snow-capped, grandest
Peak, that is over the feathery palms more fair
Than thou, so upright, so stately, and still thou standest.
And yet, O splendid ship, unhailed and nameless,
I know not if, aiming a fancy, I rightly divine
That thou hast a purpose joyful, a courage blameless,
Thy port assured in a happier land than mine.
But for all I have given thee, beauty enough is thine,
As thou, aslant with trim tackle and shrouding,
From the proud nostril curve of a prow's line
In the offing scatterest foam, thy white sails crowding.
Far on its rocky knoll descried
Saint Michael's chapel cuts the sky.
I climbed;—beneath me, bright and wide,
Lay the lone coast of Brittany.
Bright in the sunset, weird and still
It lay beside the Atlantic wave,
As if the wizard Merlin's will
Yet charmed it from his forest grave.
Behind me on their grassy sweep,
Bearded with lichen, scrawled and grey,
The giant stones of Carnac sleep,
In the mild evening of the May.
No priestly stern procession now
Streams through their rows of pillars old;
No victims bleed, no Druids bow;
Sheep make the furze-grown aisles their fold.
From bush to bush the cuckoo flies,
The orchis red gleams everywhere;
Gold broom with furze in blossom vies,
The blue-bells perfume all the air.
And o'er the glistening, lonely land,
Rise up, all round, the Christian spires.
The church of Carnac, by the strand,
Catches the westering sun's last fires.
And there across the watery way,
See, low above the tide at flood,
The sickle-sweep of Quiberon bay
Whose beach once ran with loyal blood!
And beyond that, the Atlantic wide!—
All round, no soul, no boat, no hail!
But, on the horizon's verge descried,
Hangs, touched with light, one snowy sail!
THE GRAND CHARTREUSE
Through Alpine meadows, soft-suffused
With rain, where thick the crocus blows,
Past the dark forges long disused,
The mule-track from Saint Laurent goes.
The bridge is crossed, and slow we ride,
Through forest, up the mountain-side.
The autumnal evening darkens round
The wind is up, and drives the rain;
While hark! far down, with strangled sound
Doth the Dead Guiers' stream complain,
Where that wet smoke among the woods
Over his boiling cauldron broods.
Swift rush the spectral vapours white
Past limestone scars with ragged pines,
Showing—then blotting from our sight.
Halt! through the cloud-drift something shines!
High in the valley, wet and drear,
The huts of Courrerie appear.
Strike leftward! cries our guide; and higher
Mounts up the stony forest-way.
At last the encircling trees retire;
Look! through the showery twilight grey
What pointed roofs are these advance?
A palace of the Kings of France?
Approach, for what we seek is here.
Alight and sparely sup and wait
For rest in this outbuilding near;
Then cross the sward and reach that gate;
Knock; pass the wicket! Thou art come
To the Carthusians' world-famed home.
HYMN BEFORE SUNRISE IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUNI
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc,
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form!
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it,
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity
O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee,
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
I worshipped the Invisible alone.
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my Thought,
Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy:
Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing—there
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!
Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn.
Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
O struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise!
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?
And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jaggèd rocks,
For ever shattered and the same for ever?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam?
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest?
Ye Ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain—
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
Who made you glorious as the Gates of Heaven
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?—
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost!
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest!
Ye eagles, play-mates of the mountain-storm!
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds!
Ye signs and wonders of the element!
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!
Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast—
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
To rise before me—Rise, O ever rise,
Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth!
Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.
HOME, ROSE, AND HOME, PROVENCE AND LA PALIE
ITE DOMUM SATURAE, VENIT HESPERUS
The skies have sunk, and hid the upper snow,
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie,)
The rainy clouds are filing fast below,
And wet will be the path, and wet shall we.
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
Ah dear, and where is he, a year agone
Who stepped beside and cheered us on and on?
My sweetheart wanders far away from me,
In foreign land or on a foreign sea.
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
The lightning zigzags shoot across the sky,
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie,)
And through the vale the rains go sweeping by;
Ah me, and when in shelter shall we be?
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
Cold, dreary cold, the stormy winds feel they
O'er foreign lands and foreign seas that stray.
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.)
And doth he e'er, I wonder, bring to mind
The pleasant huts and herds he left behind?
And doth he sometimes in his slumbering see
The feeding kine and doth he think of me,
My sweetheart wandering wheresoe'er it be?
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
The thunder bellows far from snow to snow,
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie,)
And loud and louder roars the flood below.
Heigh-ho! but soon in shelter shall we be:
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
Or shall he find before his term be sped,
Some comelier maid that he shall wish to wed?
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.)
For weary is work, and weary day by day
To have your comfort miles on miles away.
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
Or may it be that I shall find my mate,
And he returning see himself too late?
For work we must, and what we see, we see.
And God he knows, and what must be, must be,
When sweethearts wander far away from me.
Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie.
The sky behind is brightening up anew,
(Home, Rose, and home, Provence and La Palie,)
The rain is ending, and our journey too;
Heigh-ho! aha! for here at home are we:—
In, Rose, and in, Provence and La Palie.
THERE LIES A VALE IN IDA
There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
The swimming vapour slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
The long brook falling through the clov'n ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea.
Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
Stands up and takes the morning: but in front
The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
Troas and Ilion's columned citadel,
The crown of Troas.
Hither came at noon
Mournful Oenone, wandering forlorn
Of Paris, once her playmate on the hills.
Her cheek had lost the rose, and round her neck
Floated her hair or seemed to float in rest.
She, leaning on a fragment twined with vine,
Sang to the stillness, till the mountain-shade
Sloped downward to her seat from the upper cliff.
'O mother Ida, many-fountained Ida,
Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.
For now the noonday quiet holds the hill:
The grasshopper is silent in the grass:
The lizard, with his shadow on the stone,
Rests like a shadow, and the cicala sleeps.
The purple flowers droop: the golden bee
Is lily-cradled: I alone awake.
My eyes are full of tears, my heart of love,
My heart is breaking, and my eyes are dim,
And I am all aweary of my life.'
COME DOWN, O MAID
Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:
What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang),
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills?
But cease to move so near the heavens, and cease
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted pine,
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;
And come, for Love is of the valley, come,
For Love is of the valley, come thou down
And find him; by the happy threshold, he,
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,
Or red with spirted purple of the vats,
Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk
With Death and Morning on the silver horns,
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,
Nor find him dropped upon the firths of ice,
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors:
But follow: let the torrent dance thee down
To find him in the valley; let the wild
Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave
The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill
Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,
That like a broken purpose waste in air:
So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales
Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth
Arise to thee; the children call, and I
Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,
Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
Myriads of rivulets hurrying through the lawn,
The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.
IN THE VALLEY OF CAUTERETZ
All along the valley, stream that flashest white,
Deepening thy voice with the deepening of the night,
All along the valley, where thy waters flow,
I walked with one I loved two and thirty years ago.
All along the valley while I walked to-day,
The two and thirty years were a mist that rolls away;
For all along the valley, down thy rocky bed,
Thy living voice to me was as the voice of the dead,
And all along the valley, by rock and cave and tree,
The voice of the dead was a living voice to me.
Quick, painter, quick, the moment seize
Amid the snowy Pyrenees;
More evanescent than the snow,
The pictures come, are seen, and go:
Quick, quick, currente calamo.
I do not ask the tints that fill
The gate of day 'twixt hill and hill;
I ask not for the hues that fleet
Above the distant peaks; my feet
Are on a poplar-bordered road,
Where with a saddle and a load
A donkey, old and ashen-grey,
Reluctant works his dusty way.
Before him, still with might and main
Pulling his rope, the rustic rein,
A girl: before both him and me,
Frequent she turns and lets me see,
Unconscious, lets me scan and trace
The sunny darkness of her face
And outlines full of southern grace.
Following I notice, yet and yet,
Her olive skin, dark eyes deep set,
And black, and blacker e'en than jet,
The escaping hair that scantly showed,
Since o'er it in the country mode,
For winter warmth and summer shade,
The lap of scarlet cloth is laid.
And then, back-falling from the head,
A crimson kerchief overspread
Her jacket blue; thence passing down,
A skirt of darkest yellow-brown,
Coarse stuff, allowing to the view
The smooth limb to the woollen shoe.
But who—here's some one following too,—
A priest, and reading at his book!
Read on, O priest, and do not look;
Consider,—she is but a child,—
Yet might your fancy be beguiled.
Read on, O priest, and pass and go!
But see, succeeding in a row,
Two, three, and four, a motley train,
Musicians wandering back to Spain;
With fiddle and with tambourine,
A man with women following seen.
What dresses, ribbon ends, and flowers!
And,—sight to wonder at for hours,—
The man,—to Phillip has he sat?—
With butterfly-like velvet hat;
One dame his big bassoon conveys,
On one his gentle arm he lays;
They stop, and look, and something say,
And to 'España' ask the way.
But while I speak, and point them on;
Alas, my dearer friends are gone,
The dark-eyed maiden and the ass
Have had the time the bridge to pass.
Vainly, beyond it far descried,
Adieu, and peace with you abide,
Grey donkey, and your beauteous guide.
The pictures come, the pictures go,
Quick, quick, currente calamo.
Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
In variegated maze of mount and glen.
Ah me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen,
To follow half on which the eye dilates
Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken
Than those whereof such things the bard relates,
Who to the awe-struck world unlocked Elysium's gates?
The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd,
The cork-trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep,
The mountain-moss by scorching skies imbrown'd,
The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep,
The tender azure of the unruffled deep,
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,
The vine on high, the willow branch below,
Mix'd in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.
In the steamy, stuffy Midlands, 'neath an English summer sky,
When the holidays are nearing with the closing of July,
And experienced Alpine stagers and impetuous recruits
Are renewing with the season their continual disputes—
Those inveterate disputes
On the newest Alpine routes—
And inspecting the condition of their mountaineering boots:
You may stifle your reflections, you may banish them afar,
You may try to draw a solace from the thought of 'Nächstes Jahr'—
But your heart is with those climbers, and you'll feverishly yearn
To be crossing of the Channel with your luggage labelled 'Bern',
Leaving England far astern
With a ticket through to Bern,
And regarding your profession with a lordly unconcern!
They will lie beside the torrent, just as you were wont to do,
With the woodland green around them and a snow-field shining through:
They will tread the higher pastures, where celestial breezes blow,
While the valley lies in shadow and the peaks are all aglow—
Where the airs of heaven blow
'Twixt the pine woods and the snow,
And the shades of evening deepen in the valley far below:
They will scale the mountain strongholds that in days of old you won,
They will plod behind a lantern ere the rising of the sun,
On a 'grat' or in a chimney, on the steep and dizzy slope,
For a foothold or a handhold they will diligently grope—
On the rocky, icy slope
(Where we'll charitably hope
'Tis assistance only Moral that they're getting from a rope);
They will dine on mule and marmot, and on mutton made of goats,
They will face the various horrors of Helvetian table d'hotes:
But whate'er the paths that lead them, and the food whereon they fare,
They will taste the joy of living, as you only taste it there,
As you taste it Only There
In the higher, purer air,
Unapproachable by worries and oblivious quite of care!
Place me somewhere in the Valais, 'mid the mountains west of Binn,
West of Binn and east of Savoy, in a decent kind of inn,
With a peak or two for climbing, and a glacier to explore,—
Any mountains will content me, though they've all been climbed before—
Yes! I care not any more
Though they've all been done before,
And the names they keep in bottles may be numbered by the score!
Though the hand of Time be heavy: though your ancient comrades fail:
Though the mountains you ascended be accessible by rail:
Though your nerve begin to weaken, and you're gouty grown and fat,
And prefer to walk in places which are reasonably flat—
Though you grow so very fat
That you climb the Gorner Grat
Or perhaps the Little Scheideck,—and are rather proud of that:
Yet I hope that till you die
You will annually sigh
For a vision of the Valais with the coming of July,
For the Oberland or Valais and the higher, purer air,
And the true delight of living, as you taste it only there!
'C'était une guerre avec le Matterhorn,'
said a Zermatt peasant of the many
attempts to scale this great mountain
They warred with Nature, as of old with gods
The Titans; like the Titans too they fell,
Hurled from the summit of their hopes, and dashed
Sheer down precipitous tremendous crags,
A thousand deaths in one. 'Tis o'er, and we
Who sit at home, and by the peaceful hearth
Read their sad tale, made wise by the event,
May moralize of folly and a thirst
For barren honour, fruitful of no end.
'Tis well: we were not what we are without
That cautious wisdom, and the sober mind
Of prudence, steering calm 'twixt rock and storm.
Yet, too, methinks, we were not what we are
Without that other fiery element—
The love, the thirst for venture, and the scorn
That aught should be too great for mortal powers
That yet one peak in all the skyey throng
Should rise unchallenged with unvanquished snows,
Virgin from the beginning of the world.
Such fire was theirs; O not for fame alone—
That coarser thread in all the finer skein
That draws adventure, oft by vulgar minds
Deemed man's sole aim—but for the high delight
To tread untrodden solitudes, and feel
A sense of power, of fullest freedom, lost
In the loud vale where Man is all in all.
For this they dared too much; nor they alone,
They but the foremost of an Alpine band,
Who in the life of cities pine and pant
For purer air, for peak, and pass, and glen,
With slow majestic glacier, born to-day,
Yet with the trophies of a thousand years
On its scarred bosom, till its icy bonds
It burst, and rush a torrent to the main.
Such sons still hast thou, England; be thou proud
To have them, relics of thy younger age.
Nor murmur if not all at once they take
The care and burden on them. Learn of them!
Youth has its teaching, too, as well as age:
We grow too old too soon; the flaxen head
Of childhood apes experience' hoary crown,
And prudent lisps ungraceful aged saws.
'Tis so: yet here in Zermatt—here beneath
The fatal peak, beside the heaving mound
That bears the black cross with the golden names
Of men, our friends, upon it—here we fain
Would preach a soberer lesson. Forth they went,
Fearless and gay as to a festival,
One clear, cold morn: they climbed the virgin height;
They stood where still the awestruck gazer's eye
Shudders to follow. There a little while
They spake of home, that centre whose wide arms
Hold us where'er we are, in joy, or woe,
On earth, in air, and far on stormy seas.
Then they turned homeward, yet not to return.
It was a fearful place, and as they crept
Fearfully down the giddy steep, there came
A slip—no more—one little slip, and down
Linked in a living avalanche they fell,
Brothers in hope, in triumph, and in death,
Nor dying were divided. One remained
To tell their story, and to bury them.
TO THE MATTERHORN
Thirty-two years since, up against the sun,
Seven shapes, thin atomies to lower sight,
Labouringly leapt and gained thy gabled height,
And four lives paid for what the seven had won.
They were the first by whom the deed was done,
And when I look at thee, my mind takes flight
To that day's tragic feat of manly might,
As though, till then, of history thou hadst none.
Yet ages ere men topped thee, late and soon
Thou didst behold the planets lift and lower;
Saw'st, maybe, Joshua's pausing sun and moon,
And the betokening sky when Caesar's power
Approached its bloody end; yea, even that Noon
When darkness filled the earth till the ninth hour.
The Lady of the Hills with crimes untold
Followed my feet, with azure eyes of prey;
By glacier-brink she stood—by cataract-spray—
When mists were dire, or avalanche-echoes rolled.
At night she glimmered in the death-wind cold,
And if a footprint shone at break of day,
My flesh would quail, but straight my soul would say:
''Tis hers whose hand God's mightier hand doth hold.'
I trod her snow-bridge, for the moon was bright,
Her icicle-arch across the sheer crevasse,
When lo, she stood!... God made her let me pass,
Then felled the bridge!... Oh, there in sallow light
There down the chasm, I saw her cruel, white,
And all my wondrous days as in a glass.
What power is this? what witchery wins my feet
To peaks so sheer they scorn the cloaking snow,
All silent as the emerald gulfs below,
Down whose ice-walls the wings of twilight beat?
What thrill of earth and heaven—most wild, most sweet—
What answering pulse that all the senses know,
Comes leaping from the ruddy eastern glow
Where, far away, the skies and mountains meet?
Mother, 'tis I reborn: I know thee well:
That throb I know and all it prophesies,
O Mother and Queen, beneath the olden spell
Of silence, gazing from thy hills and skies!
Dumb Mother, struggling with the years to tell
The secret at thy heart through helpless eyes!
THE SIMPLON PASS
——Brook and road
Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass,
And with them did we journey several hours
At a slow step. The immeasurable height
Of woods decaying, never to be decayed,
The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
And in the narrow rent, at every turn,
Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn,
The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky,
The rocks that muttered close upon our ears,
Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside
As if a voice were in them, the sick sight
And giddy prospect of the raving stream,
The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens,
Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light—
Were all like workings of one mind, the features
Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree,
Characters of the great Apocalypse,
The types and symbols of Eternity,
Of first, and last, and midst, and without end.
In front the awful Alpine track
Crawls up its rocky stair;
The autumn storm-winds drive the rack
Close o'er it, in the air.
Behind are the abandoned baths
Mute in their meadows lone;
The leaves are on the valley paths;
The mists are on the Rhone—
The white mists rolling like a sea.
I hear the torrents roar.
—Yes, Obermann, all speaks of thee!
I feel thee near once more.
How often, where the slopes are green
On Jaman, hast thou sate
By some high chalet door, and seen
The summer day grow late,
And darkness steal o'er the wet grass
With the pale crocus starred,
And reach that glimmering sheet of glass
Beneath the piny sward,
Lake Leman's waters, far below:
And watched the rosy light
Fade from the distant peaks of snow:
And on the air of night
Heard accents of the eternal tongue
Through the pine branches play:
Listened, and felt thyself grow young:
Listened, and wept——Away!
Away the dreams that but deceive!
And thou, sad Guide, adieu!
I go; Fate drives me: but I leave
Half of my life with you.
Glion?——Ah, twenty years, it cuts
All meaning from a name!
White houses prank where once were huts!
Glion, but not the same,
And yet I know not. All unchanged
The turf, the pines, the sky!
The hills in their old order ranged.
The lake, with Chillon by!
And 'neath those chestnut-trees, where stiff
And stony mounts the way,
Their crackling husk-heaps burn, as if
I left them yesterday.
Across the valley, on that slope,
The huts of Avant shine—
Its pines under their branches ope
Ways for the tinkling kine.
Full-foaming milk-pails, Alpine fare,
Sweet heaps of fresh-cut grass,
Invite to rest the traveller there
Before he climb the pass—
The gentian-flowered pass, its crown
With yellow spires aflame,
Whence drops the path to Allière down
And walls where Byron came.
Still in my soul the voice I heard
I turned; by some vague impulse stirred,
Along the rocks of Naye
And Sonchaud's piny flanks I gaze
And the blanched summit bare
Of Malatrait, to where in haze
The Valais opens fair,
And the domed Velan with his snows
Behind the upcrowding hills
Doth all the heavenly opening close
Which the Rhone's murmur fills—
And glorious there, without a sound,
Across the glimmering lake,
High in the Valais depth profound,
I saw the morning break.
THE TERRACE AT BERNE
Ten years!—and to my waking eye
Once more the roofs of Berne appear;
The rocky banks, the terrace high,
The stream—and do I linger here?
The clouds are on the Oberland,
The Jungfrau snows look faint and far;
But bright are those green fields at hand,
And through those fields comes down the Aar,
And from the blue twin lakes it comes,
Flows by the town, the church-yard fair,
And 'neath the garden-walk it hums,
The house—and is my Marguerite there?
NEVER, OH NEVER MORE
Never, oh never more shall I behold
A sunrise on the glacier:—stars of morn
Paling in primrose round the crystal horn;
Soft curves of crimson mellowing into gold
O'er sapphire chasm, and silvery snow-field cold;
Fire that o'er-floods the horizon; beacons borne
From wind-worn peak to storm-swept peak forlorn;
Clear hallelujahs through heaven's arches rolled.
Never, oh never more these feet shall feel
The firm elastic tissue of upland turf,
Or the crisp edge of the high rocks; or cling
Where the embattled cliffs beneath them reel
Through cloud-wreaths eddying like the Atlantic surf,
Far, far above the wheeling eagle's wing.
HAPPY IS ENGLAND
Happy is England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown
Through its tall woods with high romances blent:
Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment
For skies Italian, and an inward groan
To sit upon an Alp as on a throne,
And half forget what world or worldling meant.
Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters;
Enough their simple loveliness for me,
Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging:
Yet do I often warmly burn to see
Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing,
And float with them about the summer waters.
WRITTEN AT EDINBURGH
O love, what hours were thine and mine,
In lands of palm and southern pine;
In lands of palm, of orange-blossom,
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.
What Roman strength Turbia showed
In ruin, by the mountain road;
How like a gem, beneath, the city
Of little Monaco, basking, glowed.
How richly down the rocky dell
The torrent vineyard streaming fell
To meet the sun and sunny waters,
That only heaved with a summer swell.
What slender campanili grew
By bays, the peacock's neck in hue;
Where, here and there, on sandy beaches
A milky-belled amaryllis blew.
How young Columbus seemed to rove,
Yet present in his natal grove,
Now watching high on mountain cornice,
And steering, now, from a purple cove,
Now pacing mute by ocean's rim;
Till, in a narrow street and dim,
I stayed the wheels at Cogoletto,
And drank, and loyally drank to him.
Nor knew we well what pleased us most,
Not the clipt palm of which they boast;
But distant colour, happy hamlet,
A mouldered citadel on the coast,
Or tower, or high hill-convent, seen
A light amid its olives green;
Or olive-hoary cape in ocean;
Or rosy blossom in hot ravine,
Where oleanders flushed the bed
Of silent torrents, gravel-spread;
And, crossing, oft we saw the glisten
Of ice, far up on a mountain bead.
We loved that hall, tho' white and cold,
Those nichèd shapes of noble mould,
A princely people's awful princes,
The grave, severe Genovese of old.
At Florence too what golden hours,
In those long galleries, were ours;
What drives about the fresh Cascinè,
Or walks in Boboli's ducal bowers.
In bright vignettes, and each complete,
Of tower or duomo, sunny-sweet,
Or palace, how the city glittered,
Thro' cypress avenues, at our feet.
But when we crost the Lombard plain
Remember what a plague of rain;
Of rain at Reggio, rain at Parma;
At Lodi, rain, Piacenza, rain.
And stern and sad (so rare the smiles
Of sunlight) looked the Lombard piles;
Porch-pillars on the lion resting,
And sombre, old, colonnaded aisles.
O Milan, O the chanting quires,
The giant windows' blazoned fires,
The height, the space, the gloom, the glory!
A mount of marble, a hundred spires!
I climbed the roofs at break of day;
Sun-smitten Alps before me lay.
I stood among the silent statues,
And statued pinnacles, mute as they.
How faintly-flushed, how phantom-fair,
Was Monte Rosa, hanging there
A thousand shadowy-pencilled valleys
And snowy dells in a golden air.
Remember how we came at last
To Como; shower and storm and blast
Had blown the lake beyond his limit,
And all was flooded; and how we past
From Como, when the light was grey,
And in my head, for half the day,
The rich Virgilian rustic measure
Of Lari Maxume, all the way,
Like ballad-burthen music, kept,
As on The Lariano crept
To that fair port below the castle
Of Queen Theodolind, where we slept;
Or hardly slept, but watched awake
A cypress in the moonlight shake,
The moonlight touching o'er a terrace
One tall Agavè above the lake.
What more? we took our last adieu,
And up the snowy Splugen drew,
But ere we reached the highest summit
I plucked a daisy, I gave it you.
It told of England then to me,
And now it tells of Italy.
O love, we two shall go no longer
To lands of summer across the sea;
So dear a life your arms enfold
Whose crying is a cry for gold:
Yet here to-night in this dark city,
When ill and weary, alone and cold,
I found, though crushed to hard and dry,
This nurseling of another sky
Still in the little book you lent me,
And where you tenderly laid it by:
And I forgot the clouded Forth,
The gloom that saddens Heaven and Earth,
The bitter east, the misty summer
And grey metropolis of the North.
Perchance, to lull the throbs of pain,
Perchance, to charm a vacant brain,
Perchance, to dream you still beside me,
My fancy fled to the South again.
LAKE OF COMO
No sound of wheels or hoof-beat breaks
The silence of the summer day,
As by the loveliest of all lakes
I while the idle hours away.
I pace the leafy colonnade
Where level branches of the plane
Above me weave a roof of shade
Impervious to the sun and rain.
At times a sudden rush of air
Flutters the lazy leaves o'erhead,
And gleams of sunshine toss and flare
Like torches down the path I tread.
By Somariva's garden gate
I make the marble stairs my seat,
And hear the water, as I wait,
Lapping the steps beneath my feet.
The undulation sinks and swells
Along the stony parapets,
And far away the floating bells
Tinkle upon the fisher's nets.
Silent and slow, by tower and town
The freighted barges come and go,
Their pendent shadows gliding down
By town and tower submerged below.
The hills sweep upward from the shore,
With villas scattered one by one
Upon their wooded spurs, and lower
Bellagio blazing in the sun.
And dimly seen, a tangled mass
Of walls and woods, of light and shade,
Stands beckoning up the Stelvio Pass
Varenna with its white cascade.
I ask myself, Is this a dream?
Will it all vanish into air?
Is there a land of such supreme
And perfect beauty anywhere?
Sweet vision! Do not fade away;
Linger until my heart shall take
Into itself the summer day,
And all the beauty of the lake.
Linger until upon my brain
Is stamped an image of the scene,
Then fade into the air again,
And be as if thou hadst not been.
Verona! thy tall gardens stand erect
Beckoning me upward. Let me rest awhile
Where the birds whistle hidden in the boughs,
Or fly away when idlers take their place,
Mated as well, concealed as willingly;
Idlers whose nest must not swing there, but rise
Beneath a gleaming canopy of gold,
Amid the flight of Cupids, and the smiles
Of Venus ever radiant o'er their couch.
Here would I stay, here wander, slumber here,
Nor pass into that theatre below
Crowded with their faint memories, shades of joy.
But ancient song arouses me: I hear
Coelius and Aufilena; I behold
Lesbia, and Lesbia's linnet at her lip
Pecking the fruit that ripens and swells out
For him whose song the Graces loved the most,
Whatever land, east, west, they visited.
Even he must not detain me: one there is
Greater than he, of broader wing, of swoop
Sublimer. Open now that humid arch
Where Juliet sleeps the quiet sleep of death,
And Romeo sinks aside her.
Fare ye well,
Lovers! Ye have not loved in vain: the hearts
Of millions throb around ye. This lone tomb,
One greater than yon walls have ever seen,
Greater than Manto's prophet-eye foresaw
In her own child or Rome's, hath hallowèd;
And the last sod or stone a pilgrim knee
Shall press (Love swears it, and swears true) is here.
Once more upon the woody Apennine,
The infant Alps, which—had I not before
Gazed on their mightier parents, where the pine
Sits on more shaggy summits, and where roar
The thundering lauwine—might be worshipped more;
But I have seen the soaring Jungfrau rear
Her never-trodden snow, and seen the hoar
Glaciers of bleak Mont Blanc both far and near,
And in Chimari heard the thunder-hills of fear,
Th' Acroceraunian mountains of old name;
And on Parnassus seen the eagles fly
Like spirits of the spot, as 'twere for fame,
For still they soared unutterably high:
I've looked on Ida with a Trojan's eye;
Athos, Olympus, Aetna, Atlas, made
These hills seem things of lesser dignity,
All, save the lone Soracte's height, displayed
Not now in snow, which asks the lyric Roman's aid
For our remembrance, and from out the plain
Heaves like a long-swept wave about to break,
And on the curl hangs pausing.
WHERE UPON APENNINE SLOPE
Where, upon Apennine slope, with the chestnut the oak-trees immingle,
Where amid odorous copse bridle-paths wander and wind,
Where under mulberry-branches the diligent rivulet sparkles,
Or amid cotton and maize peasants their water-works ply,
Where, over fig-tree and orange in tier upon tier still repeated,
Garden on garden upreared, balconies step to the sky,—
Ah, that I were far away from the crowd and the streets of the city,
Under the vine-trellis laid, O my beloved, with thee!
Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees,
(If our loves remain)
In an English lane,
By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies.
Hark, those two in the hazel coppice—
A boy and a girl, if the good fates please,
Making love, say,—
The happier they!
Draw yourself up from the light of the moon,
And let them pass, as they will too soon,
With the beanflowers' boon,
And the blackbird's tune,
And May, and June!
What I love best in all the world,
Is, a castle, precipice-encurled,
In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine.
Or look for me, old fellow of mine,
(If I get my head from out the mouth
O' the grave, and loose my spirit's bands,
And come again to the land of lands)—
In a sea-side house to the farther south,
Where the baked cicalas die of drouth,
And one sharp tree—'tis a cypress—stands,
By the many hundred years red-rusted,
Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o'ercrusted,
My sentinel to guard the sands
To the water's edge. For, what expands
Before the house, but the great opaque
Blue breadth of sea without a break?
While, in the house, for ever crumbles
Some fragment of the frescoed walls,
From blisters where a scorpion sprawls.
A girl bare-footed brings, and tumbles
Down on the pavement, green-flesh melons,
And says there's news to-day—the king
Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing,
Goes with his Bourbon arm in a sling:
—She hopes they have not caught the felons.
Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary's saying serves for me—
(When fortune's malice
Lost her, Calais)
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, 'Italy,'
Such lovers old are I and she;
So it always was, so shall ever be!
There is a glorious City in the sea.
The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets,
Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed
Clings to the marble of her palaces.
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro,
Lead to her gates. The path lies o'er the sea,
Invisible; and from the land we went,
As to a floating city—steering in,
And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
So smoothly, silently—by many a dome,
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico,
The statues ranged along an azure sky;
By many a pile in more than eastern pride,
Of old the residence of merchant-kings;
The fronts of some, though Time had shattered them,
Still glowing with the richest hues of art,
As though the wealth within them had run o'er.
Underneath Day's azure eyes
Ocean's nursling, Venice lies,
A peopled labyrinth of walls,
Amphitrite's destined halls,
Which her hoary sire now paves
With his blue and beaming waves.
Lo! the sun upsprings behind,
Broad, red, radiant, half-reclined
On the level quivering line
Of the waters crystalline;
And before that chasm of light,
As within a furnace bright,
Column, tower, and dome, and spire,
Shine like obelisks of fire,
Pointing with inconstant motion
From the altar of dark ocean
To the sapphire-tinted skies;
As the flames of sacrifice
From the marble shrines did rise,
As to pierce the dome of gold
Where Apollo spoke of old.
Sun-girt City! thou hast been
Ocean's child, and then his queen;
Now is come a darker day,
And thou soon must be his prey,
If the power that raised thee here
Hallow so thy watery bier.
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the wingèd Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!
She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was;—her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone—but Beauty still is here.
States fall, arts fade—but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!
But unto us she hath a spell beyond
Her name in story, and her long array
Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond
Above the dogeless city's vanished sway;
Ours is a trophy which will not decay
With the Rialto; Shylock and the Moor,
And Pierre, cannot be swept or worn away—
The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er,
For us repeopled were the solitary shore.
The spouseless Adriatic mourns her lord;
And, annual marriage now no more renewed,
The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored,
Neglected garment of her widowhood!
St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood
Stand, but in mockery of his withered power,
Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued,
And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour
When Venice was a queen with an unequalled dower.
Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass,
Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;
But is not Doria's menace come to pass?
Are they not bridled?—Venice, lost and won,
Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done,
Sinks, like a seaweed, into whence she rose!
Better be whelmed beneath the waves, and shun,
Even in destruction's death, her foreign foes,
From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.
On the Lido
On her still lake the city sits
While bark and boat beside her flits,
Nor hears, her soft siesta taking,
The Adriatic billows breaking.
In the Piazza at night
O beautiful beneath the magic moon
To walk the watery way of palaces;
O beautiful, o'er-vaulted with gemmed blue
This spacious court; with colour and with gold,
With cupolas, and pinnacles, and points,
And crosses multiplex, and tips, and balls,
(Wherewith the bright stars unreproving mix,
Nor scorn by hasty eyes to be confused;)
Fantastically perfect this lone pile
Of oriental glory; these long ranges
Of classic chiselling; this gay flickering crowd,
And the calm Campanile.—Beautiful!
Arno wins us to the fair white walls,
Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps
A softer feeling for her fairy halls.
Girt by her theatre of hills, she reaps
Her corn, and wine, and oil, and Plenty leaps
To laughing life, with her redundant horn.
Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps
Was modern Luxury of Commerce born,
And buried Learning rose, redeemed to a new morn.
There, too, the Goddess loves in stone, and fills
The air around with beauty; we inhale
The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instils
Part of its immortality; the veil
Of heaven is half undrawn; within the pale
We stand, and in that form and face behold
What Mind can make, when Nature's self would fail;
And to the fond idolaters of old
Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mould.
AN INVITATION TO ROME
Oh, come to Rome, it is a pleasant place,
Your London sun is here seen shining brightly;
The Briton, too, puts on a cheery face,
And Mrs. Bull is suave and even sprightly.
The Romans are a kind and cordial race,
The women charming, if one takes them rightly;
I see them at their doors, as day is closing,
More proud than duchesses,—and more imposing.
A far niente life promotes the graces;
They pass from dreamy bliss to wakeful glee,
And in their bearing and their speech one traces
A breadth of grace and depth of courtesy
That are not found in more inclement places;
Their clime and tongue seem much in harmony:
The Cockney met in Middlesex, or Surrey,
Is often cold—and always in a hurry.
Though far niente is their passion, they
Seem here most eloquent in things most slight;
No matter what it is they have to say,
The manner always sets the matter right:
And when they've plagued or pleased you all the day,
They sweetly wish you 'a most happy night'.
Then, if they fib, and if their stories tease you,
'Tis always something that they've wished to please you!
Oh, come to Rome, nor be content to read
Alone of stately palaces and streets
Whose fountains ever run with joyful speed,
And never-ceasing murmur. Here one meets
Great Memnon's monoliths, or, gay with weed,
Rich capitals, as corner-stones, or seats,
The sites of vanished temples, where now moulder
Old ruins, hiding ruin even older.
Ay, come, and see the pictures, statues, churches,
Although the last are commonplace, or florid.—
Some say 'tis here that superstition perches,
Myself I'm glad the marbles have been quarried.
The sombre streets are worthy your researches:
The ways are foul, the lava pavement's horrid,
But pleasant sights, that squeamishness disparages,
Are missed by all who roll about in carriages.
About one fane I deprecate all sneering,
For during Christmas-time I went there daily,
Amused, or edified, or both, by hearing
The little preachers of the Ara Coeli.
Conceive a four-year-old bambina rearing
Her small form on a rostrum,—tricked out gaily,
And lisping, what for doctrine may be frightful,
With action quite dramatic and delightful.
Oh come! We'll charter such a pair of nags!
The country's better seen when one is riding:
We'll roam where yellow Tiber speeds or lags
At will. The aqueducts are yet bestriding
With giant march (now whole, now broken crags
With flowers plumed) the swelling and subsiding
Campagna, girt by purple hills, afar,—
That melt in light beneath the evening star.
A drive to Palestrina will be pleasant;
The wild fig grows where erst her turrets stood;
There oft, in goat-skins clad, a sunburnt peasant
Like Pan comes frisking from his ilex wood,
And seems to wake the past time in the present.
Fair contadina, mark his mirthful mood,
No antique satyr he. The nimble fellow
Can join with jollity your salterello.
Old sylvan peace and liberty! The breath
Of life to unsophisticated man.
Here Mirth may pipe, here Love may weave his wreath,
Per dar' al mio bene. When you can,
Come share their leafy solitudes. Grim Death
And Time are grudging of Life's little span:
Wan Time speeds lightly o'er the waving corn,
Death grins from yonder cynical old thorn.
I dare not speak of Michael Angelo—
Such theme were all too splendid for my pen:
And if I breathe the name of Sanzio
(The brightest of Italian gentlemen),
It is that love casts out my fear, and so
I claim with him a kindredship. Ah, when
We love, the name is on our hearts engraven,
As is thy name, my own dear Bard of Avon!
Nor is the Coliseum theme of mine,
'Twas built for poet of a larger daring;
The world goes there with torches, I decline
Thus to affront the moonbeams with their flaring.
Some day in May our forces we'll combine
(Just you and I), and try a midnight airing,
And then I'll quote this rhyme to you—and then
You'll muse upon the vanity of men!
Oh, come! I send a leaf of tender fern,
'Twas plucked where Beauty lingers round decay:
The ashes buried in a sculptured urn
Are not more dead than Rome—so dead to-day!
That better time, for which the patriots yearn,
Enchants the gaze, again to fade away.
They wait and pine for what is long denied,
And thus I wait till thou art by my side.
Thou'rt far away! Yet, while I write, I still
Seem gently, Sweet, to press thy hand in mine;
I cannot bring myself to drop the quill,
I cannot yet thy little hand resign!
The plain is fading into darkness chill,
The Sabine peaks are flushed with light divine,
I watch alone, my fond thought wings to thee;
Oh, come to Rome—oh come, oh come to me!
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,—upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum's wall,
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watch-dog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Caesar's palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appeared to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot. Where the Caesars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levelled battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection,
While Caesar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filled up,
As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old,—
The dead but sceptred sovereigns, who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.
Is this, ye Gods, the Capitolian Hill?
Yon petty Steep in truth the fearful Rock,
Tarpeian named of yore, and keeping still
That name, a local Phantom proud to mock
The Traveller's expectation?—Could our Will
Destroy the ideal Power within, 'twere done
Thro' what men see and touch,—slaves wandering on,
Impelled by thirst of all but Heaven-taught skill.
Full oft, our wish obtained, deeply we sigh;
Yet not unrecompensed are they who learn,
From that depression raised, to mount on high
With stronger wing, more clearly to discern
Eternal things; and, if need be, defy
Change, with a brow not insolent, though stern.
AT THE PYRAMID OF CESTIUS
NEAR THE GRAVES OF SHELLEY AND KEATS
Who, then, was Cestius,
And what is he to me?—
Amid thick thoughts and memories multitudinous
One thought alone brings he.
I can recall no word
Of anything he did;
For me he is a man who died and was interred
To leave a pyramid
Whose purpose was exprest
Not with its first design,
Nor till, far down in Time, beside it found their rest
Two countrymen of mine.
Cestius in life, maybe,
Slew, breathed out threatening;
I know not. This I know: in death all silently
He does a rarer thing,
In beckoning pilgrim feet
With marble finger high
To where, by shadowy wall and history-haunted street,
Those matchless singers lie....
—Say, then, he lived and died
That stones which bear his name
Should mark, through Time, where two immortal Shades abide;
It is an ample fame.
THE VALLEY AND VILLA OF HORACE
Tibur is beautiful, too, and the orchard slopes, and the Anio
Falling, falling yet, to the ancient lyrical cadence;
Tibur and Anio's tide; and cool from Lucretilis ever,
With the Digentian stream, and with the Bandusian fountain,
Folded in Sabine recesses, the valley and villa of Horace:—
So not seeing I sung; so seeing and listening say I,
Here as I sit by the stream, as I gaze at the cell of the Sibyl,
Here with Albunea's home and the grove of Tiburnus beside me;
Tibur beautiful is, and musical, O Teverone,
Dashing from mountain to plain, thy parted impetuous waters!
Tivoli's waters and rocks; and fair unto Monte Gennaro,
(Haunt even yet, I must think, as I wander and gaze, of the shadows,
Faded and pale, yet immortal, of Faunus, the Nymphs, and the Graces,)
Fair in itself, and yet fairer with human completing creations,
Folded in Sabine recesses the valley and villa of Horace.
Vallombrosa! I longed in thy shadiest wood
To slumber, reclined on the moss-covered floor,
To listen to Anio's precipitous flood,
When the stillness of evening hath deepened its roar;
To range through the Temples of Paestum, to muse
In Pompeii preserved by her burial in earth;
On pictures to gaze where they drank in their hues;
And murmur sweet songs on the ground of their birth!
The beauty of Florence, the grandeur of Rome,
Could I leave them unseen, and not yield to regret?
With a hope (and no more) for a season to come,
Which ne'er may discharge the magnificent debt?
Thou fortunate Region! whose Greatness inurned
Awoke to new life from its ashes and dust;
Twice-glorified fields! if in sadness I turned
From your infinite marvels, the sadness was just.
Vallombrosa! of thee I first heard in the page
Of that holiest of Bards, and the name for my mind
Had a musical charm, which the winter of age
And the changes it brings had no power to unbind.
And now, ye Miltonian shades! under you
I repose, nor am forced from sweet fancy to part,
While your leaves I behold and the works they will strew,
And the realized vision is clasped to my heart.
They stand between the mountains and the sea;
Awful memorials, but of whom we know not!
The seaman, passing, gazes from the deck;
The buffalo-driver, in his shaggy cloak,
Points to the work of magic, and moves on.
Time was they stood along the crowded street,
Temples of Gods, and on their ample steps
What various habits, various tongues beset
The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice!
Time was perhaps the third was sought for justice;
And here the accuser stood, and there the accused,
And here the judges sat, and heard, and judged.
All silent now, as in the ages past,
Trodden under foot and mingled, dust with dust.
How many centuries did the sun go round
From Mount Alburnus to the Tyrrhene sea,
While, by some spell rendered invisible,
Or, if approached, approached by him alone
Who saw as though he saw not, they remained
As in the darkness of a sepulchre,
Waiting the appointed time! All, all within
Proclaims that Nature had resumed her right,
And taken to herself what man renounced;
No cornice, triglyph, or worn abacus,
But with thick ivy hung, or branching fern,
Their iron-brown o'erspread with brightest verdure!
From my youth upward have I longed to tread
This classic ground; and am I here at last?
Wandering at will through the long porticoes,
And catching, as through some majestic grove,
Now the blue ocean, and now, chaos-like,
Mountains and mountain-gulfs, and, half-way up,
Towns like the living rock from which they grew?
A cloudy region, black and desolate,
Where once a slave withstood a world in arms.
The air is sweet with violets, running wild
'Mid broken friezes and fallen capitals;
Sweet as when Tully, writing down his thoughts,
Those thoughts so precious and so lately lost—
Turning to thee, divine philosophy,
Ever at hand to calm his troubled soul—
Sailed slowly by, two thousand years ago,
For Athens; when a ship, if north-east winds
Blew from the Paestan gardens, slacked her course.
On as he moved along the level shore,
These temples, in their splendour eminent
'Mid arcs and obelisks, and domes and towers,
Reflecting back the radiance of the west,
Well might he dream of glory! Now, coiled up,
The serpent sleeps within them; the she-wolf
Suckles her young; and as alone I stand
In this, the nobler pile, the elements
Of earth and air its only floor and covering,
How solemn is the stillness! Nothing stirs
Save the shrill-voiced cicala flitting round
On the rough pediment to sit and sing;
Or the green lizard rushing through the grass,
And up the fluted shaft with short quick spring,
To vanish in the chinks that time has made.
In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
Seen at his setting, and a flood of light
Filling the courts of these old sanctuaries—
Gigantic shadows, broken and confused,
Athwart the innumerable columns flung—
In such an hour he came, who saw and told,
Led by the mighty genius of the place.
Walls of some capital city first appeared,
Half razed, half sunk, or scattered as in scorn;
—And what within them? What but in the midst
These three in more than their original grandeur,
And, round about, no stone upon another?
As if the spoiler had fallen back in fear,
And, turning, left them to the elements.
AS SEEN FROM CAPRI
A wreath of light blue vapour, pure and rare,
Mounts, scarcely seen against the bluer sky,
In quiet adoration, silently—
Till the faint currents of the upper air
Dislimn it, and it forms, dissolving there,
The dome, as of a palace, hung on high
Over the mountain; underneath it lie
Vineyards and bays and cities white and fair.
Might we not think this beauty would engage
All living things unto one pure delight?
Oh vain belief! for here, our records tell,
Rome's understanding tyrant from men's sight
Hid, as within a guilty citadel,
The shame of his dishonourable age.
Sweet the memory is to me
Of a land beyond the sea,
Where the waves and mountains meet,
Where, amid her mulberry-trees,
Sits Amalfi in the heat,
Bathing ever her white feet
In the tideless summer seas.
In the middle of the town,
From its fountains in the hills,
Tumbling through the narrow gorge,
The Canneto rushes down,
Turns the great wheels of the mills,
Lifts the hammers of the forge.
'Tis a stairway, not a street,
That ascends the deep ravine,
Where the torrent leaps between
Rocky walls that almost meet.
Toiling up from stair to stair
Peasant girls their burdens bear;
Sunburnt daughters of the soil,
Stately figures tall and straight,
What inexorable fate
Dooms them to this life of toil?
Lord of vineyards and of lands,
Far above the convent stands.
On its terraced walk aloof
Leans a monk with folded hands,
Placid, satisfied, serene,
Looking down upon the scene
Over wall and red-tiled roof;
Wondering unto what good end
All this toil and traffic tend,
And why all men cannot be
Free from care and free from pain,
And the sordid love of gain,
And as indolent as he.
Where are now the freighted barks
From the marts of east and west?
Where the knights in iron sarks
Journeying to the Holy Land,
Glove of steel upon the hand,
Cross of crimson on the breast?
Where the pomp of camp and court?
Where the pilgrims with their prayers?
Where the merchants with their wares,
And their gallant brigantines
Sailing safely into port
Chased by corsair Algerines?
Vanished like a fleet of cloud,
Like a passing trumpet-blast,
Are those splendours of the past,
And the commerce and the crowd!
Fathoms deep beneath the seas
Lie the ancient wharves and quays
Swallowed by the engulfing waves;
Silent streets and vacant halls,
Ruined roofs and towers and walls;
Hidden from all mortal eyes
Deep the sunken city lies:
Even cities have their graves!
This is an enchanted land!
Round the headlands far away
Sweeps the blue Salernian bay
With its sickle of white sand:
Further still and furthermost
On the dim-discovered coast
Paestum with its ruins lies,
And its roses all in bloom
Seem to tinge the fatal skies
Of that lonely land of doom.
On his terrace, high in air,
Nothing doth the good monk care
For such worldly themes as these.
From the garden just below
Little puffs of perfume blow,
And a sound is in his ears
Of the murmur of the bees
In the shining chestnut-trees;
Nothing else he heeds or hears.
All the landscape seems to swoon
In the happy afternoon;
Slowly o'er his senses creep
The encroaching waves of sleep,
And he sinks as sank the town,
Unresisting, fathoms down,
Into caverns cool and deep!
Walled about with drifts of snow,
Hearing the fierce north wind blow,
Seeing all the landscape white,
And the river cased in ice,
Comes this memory of delight,
Comes this vision unto me
Of a long-lost Paradise
In the land beyond the sea.
Nowhere I sojourn but I thence depart,
Leaving a little portion of my heart;
Then day-dreams make the heart's division good
With many a loved Italian solitude.
As sons the whole year scattered here and there
Gather at Christmas round their father's chair,
Prodigal memories tenderly come home—
Suns Neapolitan, white noons at Rome;
Watches that from the wreck'd Arena wall
Saw Alps and Plain deny the Sun in his fall,
And rosy gold upon Verona tarry.
O Cloister-Castle that the high winds harry,
Butting Saint Benet's tower and doubling short
To whisper with the rosebush in the Court!
How sweet the frogs by reedy Mantuan marges
Cried in the broken moonlight round the barges,
Where, glib decline of glass, the Mincio's march
Flaws in a riot at the Causeway arch!
How Cava from grey wall and silence green
Echoes the humming voice of the ravine,
The while a second spell the brain composes,
Fresh elder mixt with sun-dishevelled roses!
How that first sunbeam on Assisi fell
To wake Saint-Mary-of-the-Angels' bell,
Before the tides of noonday washed the pale
Mist-bloom from off the purple Umbrian vale!
Multitudinous colonies of my love!
But there's a single village dear above
Cities and scenes, a township of kind hearts,
The quick Boïte laughs to and departs
Burying his snowy leaps in pools of green.
My tower that climbs to see what can be seen
Towards Three Crosses or the high Giaù daisies,
Or where the great white highway southward blazes!
My sloping barley plots, my hayfield lawn
Breathing heavy and sweet, before the dawn
Shows up her pillared bulwarks one by one—
Cortina, open-hearted to the Sun!
Oft as the pilgrim spirit, most erect,
Dares the poor dole of Here and Now reject,
The lust of larger things invades and fills—
The heart's homesickness for the hills, the hills!
FAREWELL TO ITALY
I leave thee, beauteous Italy! no more
From the high terraces, at even-tide,
To look supine into thy depths of sky,
Thy golden moon between the cliff and me,
Or thy dark spires of fretted cypresses
Bordering the channel of the milky-way.
Fiesole and Valdarno must be dreams
Hereafter, and my own lost Affrico
Murmur to me but in the poet's song.
I did believe (what have I not believed?),
Weary with age, but unopprest by pain,
To close in thy soft clime my quiet day
And rest my bones in the Mimosa's shade.
Hope! Hope! few ever cherisht thee so little;
Few are the heads thou hast so rarely raised;
But thou didst promise this, and all was well.
For we are fond of thinking where to lie
When every pulse hath ceast, when the lone heart
Can lift no aspiration ... reasoning
As if the sight were unimpaired by death,
Were unobstructed by the coffin-lid,
And the sun cheered corruption! Over all
The smiles of Nature shed a potent charm,
And light us to our chamber at the grave.
'Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.'
Why, wedded to the Lord, still yearns my heart
Towards these scenes of ancient heathen fame?
Yet legend hoar, and voice of bard that came
Fixing my restless youth with its sweet art,
And shades of power, and those who bore a part
In the mad deeds that set the world in flame,
So fret my memory here,—ah! is it blame?—
That from my eyes the tear is fain to start.
Nay, from no fount impure these drops arise;
'Tis but that sympathy with Adam's race
Which in each brother's history reads its own.
So let the cliffs and seas of this fair place
Be named man's tomb and splendid record stone,
High hope, pride-stained, the course without the prize.
'And Jacob went on his way;
and the angels of God met him.'
Say, hast thou tracked a traveller's round,
Nor visions met thee there,
Thou couldst but marvel to have found
This blighted world so fair?
And feel an awe within thee rise,
That sinful man should see
Glories far worthier Seraph's eyes
Than to be shared by thee?
Store them in heart! thou shalt not faint
'Mid coming pains and fears,
As the third heaven once nerved a Saint
For fourteen trial-years.
HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM THE SEA
Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest North-east distance, dawned Gibraltar grand and grey;
'Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?'—say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.
England, we love thee better than we know.—
And this I learned when, after wanderings long
'Mid people of another stock and tongue,
I heard again thy martial music blow,
And saw thy gallant children to and fro
Pace, keeping ward at one of those huge gates,
Which like twin giants watch the Herculean Straits.
When first I came in sight of that brave show,
It made the very heart within me dance,
To think that thou thy proud foot shouldst advance
Forward so far into the mighty sea.
Joy was it and exultation to behold
Thine ancient standard's rich emblazonry,
A glorious picture by the wind unrolled.
Seven weeks of sea, and twice seven days of storm
Upon the huge Atlantic, and once more
We ride into still water and the calm
Of a sweet evening, screened by either shore
Of Spain and Barbary. Our toils are o'er,
Our exile is accomplished. Once again
We look on Europe, mistress as of yore
Of the fair earth and of the hearts of men.
Ay, this is the famed rock which Hercules
And Goth and Moor bequeathed us. At this door
England stands sentry. God! to hear the shrill
Sweet treble of her fifes upon the breeze,
And at the summons of the rock gun's roar
To see her red coats marching from the hill!
FROM 'THE SCHOLAR-GIPSY'
Then fly our greetings, fly our speech and smiles!
—As some grave Tyrian trader, from the sea,
Descried at sunrise an emerging prow
Lifting the cool-haired creepers stealthily,
The fringes of a southward-facing brow
Among the Aegean isles;
And saw the merry Grecian coaster come,
Freighted with amber grapes, and Chian wine,
Green bursting figs, and tunnies steeped in brine—
And knew the intruders on his ancient home,
The young light-hearted masters of the waves—
And snatched his rudder, and shook out more sail;
And day and night held on indignantly
O'er the blue Midland waters with the gale,
Betwixt the Syrtes and soft Sicily,
To where the Atlantic raves
Outside the western straits; and unbent sails
There, where down cloudy cliffs, through sheets of foam,
Shy traffickers, the dark Iberians come;
And on the beach undid his corded bales.
FAREWELL TO MALTA
Adieu, ye joys of La Valette!
Adieu, sirocco, sun, and sweat!
Adieu, thou palace rarely entered!
Adieu, ye mansions where—I've ventured!
Adieu, ye cursèd streets of stairs!
(How surely he who mounts you swears!)
Adieu, ye merchants often failing!
Adieu, thou mob for ever railing!
Adieu, ye packets—without letters!
Adieu, ye fools—who ape your betters!
Adieu, thou damned'st quarantine,
That gave me fever, and the spleen!
Adieu, that stage which makes us yawn, Sirs,
Adieu, his Excellency's dancers!
Adieu to Peter—whom no fault's in,
But could not teach a colonel waltzing;
Adieu, ye females fraught with graces!
Adieu, red coats, and redder faces!
Adieu, the supercilious air
Of all that strut 'en militaire!'
I go—but God knows when, or why,
To smoky towns and cloudy sky,
To things (the honest truth to say)
As bad—but in a different way.
Farewell to these, but not adieu,
Triumphant sons of truest blue!
While either Adriatic shore,
And fallen chiefs, and fleets no more,
And nightly smiles, and daily dinners,
Proclaim you war and woman's winners.
Pardon my muse, who apt to prate is,
And take my rhyme—because 'tis 'gratis'.
And now, O Malta! since thou'st got us,
Thou little military hothouse!
I'll not offend with words uncivil,
And wish thee rudely at the Devil,
But only stare from out my casement,
And ask, for what is such a place meant?
Then, in my solitary nook,
Return to scribbling, or a book,
Or take my physic while I'm able
(Two spoonfuls hourly by the label),
Prefer my nightcap to my beaver,
And bless the gods I've got a fever.
TO E[DWARD] L[EAR], ON HIS TRAVELS IN GREECE
Illyrian woodlands, echoing falls
Of water, sheets of summer glass,
The long divine Peneïan pass,
The vast Akrokeraunian walls,
Tomohrit, Athos, all things fair,
With such a pencil, such a pen,
You shadow forth to distant men,
I read and felt that I was there:
And trust me while I turned the page,
And tracked you still on classic ground,
I grew in gladness till I found
My spirits in the golden age.
For me the torrent ever poured
And glistened—here and there alone
The broad-limbed Gods at random thrown
By fountain-urns;—and Naiads oared
A glimmering shoulder under gloom
Of cavern pillars; on the swell
The silver lily heaved and fell;
And many a slope was rich in bloom
From him that on the mountain lea
By dancing rivulets fed his flocks,
To him who sat upon the rocks,
And fluted to the morning sea.
It is not only that the sun
Loves best these southern lands,
It is not for the trophies won
Of old by hero hands,
That nature wreathed in softer smiles
Was here the bride of art;
A closer kinship claims these isles,
The love-land of the heart.
It is because the poet's dream
Still haunts each happy vale,
That peopled every grove and stream
To fit his fairy tale.
There may be greener vales and hills
Less bare to shelter man;
But still they want the naiad rills,
And miss the pipe of Pan.
There may be other isles as fair
And summer seas as blue,
But then Odysseus touched not there
Nor Argo beached her crew.
The Nereid-haunted river shore,
The Faun-frequented dell,
Possess me with their magic more
Than sites where Caesars fell:
And where the blooms of Zante blow
Their incense to the waves;
Where Ithaca's dark headlands show
The legendary caves;
Where in the deep of olive groves
The summer hardly dies;
Where fair Phaeacia's sun-brown maids
Still keep their siren eyes;
Where Chalcis strains with loving lips
Towards the little bay,
The strand that held the thousand ships,
The Aulis of delay;
Where Oeta's ridge of granite bars
The gate Thermopylae,
Where huge Orion crowned with stars
Looks down on Rhodope;
Where once Apollo tended flocks
On Phera's lofty plain,
Where Peneus cleaves the stubborn rocks
To find the outer main;
Where Argos and Mycenae sleep
With all the buried wrong,
And where Arcadian uplands keep
The antique shepherd song,
There is a spirit haunts the place
All other lands must lack,
A speaking voice, a living grace,
That beckons fancy back.
Dear isles and sea-indented shore,
Till songs be no more sung,
The singers that have gone before
Will keep your lovers young:
And men will hymn your haunted skies,
And seek your holy streams,
Until the soul of music dies,
And earth has done with dreams.
THE VIOLET CROWN
'Wherefore the "city of the violet crown"?'
One asked me, as the April sun went down
Behind the shadows of the Persian's mound,
The fretted crags of Salamis.
And see the question answered!'
For we were
Upon the summit of that battled square,
The rock of ruin, in whose fallen shrine
The world still worships what man made divine,
The maiden fane, that yet may boast the birth
Of half the immortalities of earth.
The last rays light the portal, a gold wave
Runs up the columns to the architrave,
Lingers about the gable and is gone:—
Parnes, Hymettus, and Pentelicon
Show shadowy violet in the after-rose,
Cithaeron's ridge and all the islands close
The mountain ring, like sapphires o'er the sea,
And from this circle's heart aetherially
Springs the white altar of the land's renown,
A marble lily in a violet crown.
And fairer crown had never queen than this
That girds thee round, far-famed Acropolis!
So of these isles, these mountains, and this sea,
I wove a crown of song to dedicate to thee.
The nodding promontories and blue isles,
And cloud-like mountains, and dividuous waves
Of Greece, basked glorious in the open smiles
Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves
Prophetic echoes flung dim melody
On the unapprehensive wild.
The vine, the corn, the olive wild,
Grew, savage yet, to human use unreconciled;
And like unfolded flowers beneath the sea,
Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain,
Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,
Art's deathless dreams lay veiled by many a vein
Of Parian stone; and yet a speechless child,
Verse murmured, and Philosophy did strain
Her lidless eyes for thee; when o'er the Aegean main
Athens arose: a city such as vision
Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean-floors
Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it;
Its portals are inhabited
By thunder-zonèd winds, each head
Within its cloudy wings with sun-fire garlanded,—
A divine work! Athens, diviner yet,
Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will
Of man, as on a mount of diamond, set;
For thou wert, and thine all-creative skill
Peopled, with forms that mock the eternal dead
In marble immortality, that hill
Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.
Within the surface of Time's fleeting river
Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay
Immovably unquiet, and for ever
It trembles, but it cannot pass away!
Oh, thou Parnassus! whom I now survey,
Not in the frenzy of a dreamer's eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,
But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky,
In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!
What marvel if I thus essay to sing?
The humblest of thy pilgrims passing by
Would gladly woo thine Echoes with his string,
Though from thy heights no more one Muse will wave her wing.
Oft have I dreamed of Thee! whose glorious name
Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore:
And now I view thee, 'tis, alas! with shame
That I in feeblest accents must adore.
When I recount thy worshippers of yore
I tremble, and can only bend the knee;
Nor raise my voice, nor vainly dare to soar,
But gaze beneath thy cloudy canopy
In silent joy to think at last I look on Thee!
Many a vanished year and age,
And tempest's breath, and battle's rage,
Have swept o'er Corinth; yet she stands,
A fortress formed to Freedom's hands.
The whirlwind's wrath, the earthquake's shock,
Have left untouched her hoary rock,
The keystone of a land, which still,
Though fallen, looks proudly on that hill,
The landmark to the double tide
That purpling rolls on either side,
As if their waters chafed to meet,
Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet.
But could the blood before her shed,
Since first Timoleon's brother bled,
Or baffled Persia's despot fled,
Arise from out the earth which drank
The stream of slaughter as it sank,
That sanguine ocean would o'erflow
Her isthmus idly spread below:
Or could the bones of all the slain,
Who perished there, be piled again,
That rival pyramid would rise
More mountain-like, through those clear skies,
Than yon tower-capped Acropolis,
Which seems the very clouds to kiss.
CORINNA TO TANAGRA
Tanagra! think not I forget
Thy beautifully-storied streets;
Be sure my memory bathes yet
In clear Thermodon, and yet greets
The blithe and liberal shepherd-boy,
Whose sunny bosom swells with joy
When we accept his matted rushes
Upheaved with sylvan fruit; away he bounds and blushes.
A gift I promise: one I see
Which thou with transport wilt receive,
The only proper gift for thee,
Of which no mortal shall bereave
In later times thy mouldering walls,
Until the last old turret falls;
A crown, a crown from Athens won,
A crown no God can wear, beside Latona's son.
There may be cities who refuse
To their own child the honours due,
And look ungently on the Muse;
But ever shall those cities rue
The dry, unyielding, niggard breast,
Offering no nourishment, no rest,
To that young head which soon shall rise
Disdainfully, in might and glory, to the skies.
Sweetly where caverned Dirce flows
Do white-armed maidens chant my lay,
Flapping the while with laurel-rose
The honey-gathering tribes away;
And sweetly, sweetly Attic tongues
Lisp your Corinna's early songs;
To her with feet more graceful come
The verses that have dwelt in kindred breasts at home.
O let thy children lean aslant
Against the tender mother's knee,
And gaze into her face, and want
To know what magic there can be
In words that urge some eyes to dance,
While others as in holy trance
Look up to heaven: be such my praise!
Why linger? I must haste, or lose the Delphic bays.
What's become of Waring
Since he gave us all the slip,
Chose land-travel or seafaring,
Boots and chest or staff and scrip,
Rather than pace up and down
Any longer London-town?
The glory is departed!
Travels Waring East away?
Who, of knowledge, by hearsay,
Reports a man upstarted
Somewhere as a God,
Hordes grown European-hearted,
Millions of the wild made tame
On a sudden at his fame?
In Vishnu-land what Avatar?
Or who, in Moscow, toward the Czar,
With the demurest of footfalls
Over the Kremlin's pavement, bright
With serpentine and syenite,
Steps, with five other Generals
That simultaneously take snuff,
For each to have pretext enough
To kerchiefwise unfold his sash
Which, softness' self, is yet the stuff
To hold fast where a steel chain snaps,
And leave the grand white neck no gash?
Waring, in Moscow, to those rough
Cold northern natures borne, perhaps,
Like the lambwhite maiden dear
From the circle of mute kings
Unable to repress the tear,
Each as his sceptre down he flings,
To Dian's fane at Taurica,
Where now a captive priestess, she alway
Mingles her tender grave Hellenic speech
With theirs, tuned to the hailstone-beaten beach,
As pours some pigeon, from the myrrhy lands
Rapt by the whirlblast to fierce Scythian strands
Where breed the swallows, her melodious cry
Amid their barbarous twitter?
In Russia? Never! Spain were fitter!
Ay, most likely 'tis in Spain
That we and Waring meet again
Now, while he turns down that cool narrow lane
Into the blackness, out of grave Madrid
All fire and shine, abrupt as when there's slid
Its stiff gold blazing pall
From some black coffin-lid.
'When I last saw Waring ...'
(How all turned to him who spoke—
You saw Waring? Truth or joke?
In land-travel, or sea-faring?)
'We were sailing by Triest,
Where a day or two we harboured:
A sunset was in the West,
When, looking over the vessel's side,
One of our company espied
A sudden speck to larboard.
And, as a sea-duck flies and swims
At once, so came the light craft up,
With its sole lateen sail that trims
And turns (the water round its rims
Dancing, as round a sinking cup)
And by us like a fish it curled,
And drew itself up close beside,
Its great sail on the instant furled,
And o'er its planks, a shrill voice cried
(A neck as bronzed as a Lascar's),
"Buy wine of us, you English brig?
Or fruit, tobacco and cigars?
A pilot for you to Triest?
Without one, look you ne'er so big,
They'll never let you up the bay!
We natives should know best."
I turned, and "Just those fellows' way",
Our captain said, "The 'long-shore thieves
Are laughing at us in their sleeves."
'In truth, the boy leaned laughing back;
And one, half-hidden by his side
Under the furled sail, soon I spied,
With great grass hat and kerchief black,
Who looked up with his kingly throat,
Said somewhat, while the other shook
His hair back from his eyes to look
Their longest at us; then the boat,
I know not how, turned sharply round,
Laying her whole side on the sea
As a leaping fish does; from the lee,
Into the weather, cut somehow
Her sparkling path beneath our bow;
And so went off, as with a bound,
Into the rosy and golden half
Of the sky, to overtake the sun
And reach the shore, like the sea-calf
Its singing cave; yet I caught one
Glance ere away the boat quite passed,
And neither time nor toil could mar
Those features: so I saw the last
Of Waring!'—You? Oh, never star
Was lost here, but it rose afar!
Look East, where whole new thousands are!
In Vishnu-land what Avatar?
ON THE RHINE
Vain is the effort to forget.
Some day I shall be cold, I know,
As is the eternal moon-lit snow
Of the high Alps, to which I go
But ah, not yet! not yet!
Vain is the agony of grief.
'Tis true, indeed, an iron knot
Ties straitly up from mine thy lot,
And were it snapt—thou lov'st me not!
But is despair relief?
Awhile let me with thought have done;
And as this brimmed unwrinkled Rhine
And that far purple mountain line
Lie sweetly in the look divine
Of the slow-sinking sun;
So let me lie, and calm as they
Let beam upon my inward view
Those eyes of deep, soft, lucent hue—
Eyes too expressive to be blue,
Too lovely to be grey.
Ah Quiet, all things feel thy balm!
Those blue hills too, this river's flow,
Were restless once, but long ago.
Tamed is their turbulent youthful glow:
Their joy is in their calm.
THE CASTLED CRAG OF DRACHENFELS
The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me.
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes
And hands which offer early flowers,
Walk smiling o'er this paradise;
Above, the frequent feudal towers
Through green leaves lift their walls of grey;
And many a rock which steeply lowers,
And noble arch in proud decay,
Look o'er this vale of vintage-bowers;
But one thing want these banks of Rhine,—
Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!
I send the lilies given to me;
Though long before thy hand they touch,
I know that they must withered be,
But yet reject them not as such;
For I have cherished them as dear,
Because they yet may meet thine eye,
And guide thy soul to mine even here,
When thou behold'st them drooping nigh,
And know'st them gathered by the Rhine,
And offered from my heart to thine!
The river nobly foams and flows,
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round:
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here:
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To nature and to me so dear,
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!
'UP THE RHINE'
Why, Tourist, why
With Passport have to do?
Pr'ythee stay at home and pass
The Port and Sherry too.
Why, Tourist, why
Embark for Rotterdam?
Pr'ythee stay at home and take
Thy Hollands in a dram.
Why, Tourist, why
To foreign climes repair?
Pr'ythee take thy German Flute,
And breathe a German air.
Why, Tourist, why
The Seven Mountains view?
Any one at home can tint
A hill with Prussian Blue.
Why, Tourist, why
To old Colonia's walls?
Sure, to see a Wrenish Dome,
One needn't leave St. Paul's.
In Köhln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fanged with murderous stones,
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?
THE PURSUIT OF LETTERS
The Germans for Learning enjoy great repute;
But the English make Letters still more a pursuit;
For a Cockney will go from the banks of the Thames
To Cologne for an O and to Nassau for M's.
FROM 'DOVER TO MUNICH'
Farewell, farewell! Before our prow
Leaps in white foam the noisy channel;
A tourist's cap is on my brow,
My legs are cased in tourist's flannel:
Around me gasp the invalids—
(The quantity to-night is fearful)
I take a brace or so of weeds,
And feel (as yet) extremely cheerful.
The night wears on:—my thirst I quench
With one imperial pint of porter;
Then drop upon a casual bench—
(The bench is short, but I am shorter)—
Place 'neath my head the havre-sac
Which I have stored my little all in,
And sleep, though moist about the back,
Serenely in an old tarpaulin.
Bed at Ostend at 5 a.m.
Breakfast at 6, and train 6.30,
Tickets to Königswinter (mem.
The seats objectionably dirty).
And onward through those dreary flats
We move, with scanty space to sit on,
Flanked by stout girls with steeple hats,
And waists that paralyse a Briton;—
By many a tidy little town,
Where tidy little Fraus sit knitting,
(The men's pursuits are, lying down,
Smoking perennial pipes, and spitting;)
And doze, and execrate the heat,
And wonder how far off Cologne is,
And if we shall get aught to eat,
Till we get there, save raw polonies;
Until at last the 'grey old pile'
Is seen, is past, and three hours later
We're ordering steaks, and talking vile
Mock-German to an Austrian waiter.
On, on the vessel steals;
Round go the paddle wheels,
And now the tourist feels
As he should;
For king-like rolls the Rhine,
And the scenery's divine,
And the victuals and the wine
From every crag we pass 'll
Rise up some hoar old castle;
The hanging fir-groves tassel
And the vine her lithe arm stretches
O'er peasants singing catches—
And you'll make no end of sketches,
I should hope.
We've a nun here (called Therèse),
Two couriers out of place,
One Yankee with a face
Like a ferret's:
And three youths in scarlet caps
Drinking chocolate and schnapps—
A diet which perhaps
Has its merits.
And day again declines:
In shadow sleep the vines,
And the last ray through the pines
Then sinks behind yon ridge;
And the usual evening midge
Is settling on the bridge
Of my nose.
And keen's the air and cold,
And the sheep are in the fold,
And Night walks sable-stoled
Through the trees;
And on the silent river
The floating starbeams quiver;—
And now, the saints deliver
Us from fleas.
Avenues of broad white houses,
Basking in the noontide glare;—
Streets, which foot of traveller shrinks from,
As on hot plates shrinks the bear;—
Elsewhere lawns, and vistaed gardens,
Statues white, and cool arcades,
Where at eve the German warrior
Winks upon the German maids;—
Such is Munich:—broad and stately,
Rich of hue, and fair of form;
But, towards the end of August,
In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands
Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient, stands.
Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and song,
Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them throng:
Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;
And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth rhyme,
That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every clime.
In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron band,
Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand;
On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise.
Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common mart;
And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone,
By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.
In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust,
And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust;
In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare,
Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted air.
Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
Lived and laboured Albrecht Dürer, the Evangelist of Art;
Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
Dead he is not, but departed,—for the artist never dies.
Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its air!
Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and dismal lanes,
Walked of yore the Master-singers, chanting rude poetic strains.
From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild,
Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows build.
As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom
In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed.
But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;
Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song,
As the old man grey and dove-like, with his great beard white and long.
And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,
Quaffing ale from pewter tankards, in the master's antique chair.
Vanished is the ancient splendour, and before my dreamy eye
Wave these mingled shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's regard;
But thy painter, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler-bard.
Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his careless lay:
Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
The nobility of labour,—the long pedigree of toil.
I have known cities with the strong-armed Rhine
Clasping their mouldered quays in lordly sweep;
And lingered where the Maine's low waters shine
Through Tyrian Frankfort; and been fain to weep
'Mid the green cliffs where pale Mosella laves
That Roman sepulchre, imperial Treves.
Ghent boasts her street, and Bruges her moonlight square;
And holy Mechlin, Rome of Flanders, stands,
Like a queen-mother, on her spacious lands;
And Antwerp shoots her glowing spire in air.
Yet have I seen no place, by inland brook,
Hill-top, or plain, or trim arcaded bowers,
That carries age so nobly in its look,
As Oxford with the sun upon her towers.
The Spirit of Antiquity—enshrined
In sumptuous buildings, vocal in sweet song,
In picture, speaking with heroic tongue,
And with devout solemnities entwined—
Mounts to the seat of grace within the mind:
Hence Forms that glide with swan-like ease along,
Hence motions, even amid the vulgar throng,
To an harmonious decency confined:
As if the streets were consecrated ground,
The city one vast temple, dedicate
To mutual respect in thought and deed;
To leisure, to forbearances sedate;
To social cares from jarring passions freed;
A deeper peace than that in deserts found!
THE BELFRY OF BRUGES
In the market-place of Bruges stands the belfry old and brown;
Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches o'er the town.
As the summer morn was breaking, on that lofty tower I stood,
And the world threw off the darkness, like the weeds of widowhood.
Thick with towns and hamlets studded, and with streams and vapours gray,
Like a shield embossed with silver, round and vast the landscape lay.
At my feet the city slumbered. From its chimneys, here and there,
Wreaths of snow-white smoke ascending, vanished, ghost-like, into air.
Not a sound rose from the city at that early morning hour,
But I heard a heart of iron beating in the ancient tower.
From their nests beneath the rafters sang the swallows wild and high;
And the world, beneath me sleeping, seemed more distant than the sky.
Then most musical and solemn, bringing back the olden times,
With their strange unearthly changes rang the melancholy chimes,
Like the psalms from some old cloister, when the nuns sing in the choir;
And the great bell tolled among them, like the chanting of a friar.
Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms filled my brain;
They who live in history only seemed to walk the earth again;
All the Foresters of Flanders,—mighty Baldwin Bras de Fer,
Lyderick du Bucq and Cressy Philip, Guy de Dampierre.
I beheld the pageants splendid that adorned those days of old;
Stately dames, like queens attended, knights who bore the Fleece of Gold.
Lombard and Venetian merchants with deep-laden argosies;
Ministers from twenty nations; more than royal pomp and ease.
I beheld proud Maximilian, kneeling humbly on the ground;
I beheld the gentle Mary, hunting with her hawk and hound;
And her lighted bridal-chamber, where a duke slept with the queen,
And the armèd guard around them, and the sword unsheathed between.
I beheld the Flemish weavers, with Namur and Juliers bold,
Marching homeward from the bloody battle of the Spurs of Gold;
Saw the fight at Minnewater, saw the White Hoods moving west,
Saw great Artevelde victorious scale the Golden Dragon's nest.
And again the whiskered Spaniard all the land with terror smote;
And again the wild alarum sounded from the tocsin's throat;
Till the bell of Ghent responded o'er lagoon and dike of sand,
'I am Roland! I am Roland! there is victory in the land!'
Then the sound of drums aroused me. The awakened city's roar
Chased the phantoms I had summoned back into their graves once more.
Hours had passed away like minutes; and, before I was aware,
Lo! the shadow of the belfry crossed the sun-illumined square.
ANTWERP AND BRUGES
At Antwerp, there is a low wall
Binding the city, and a moat
Beneath, that the wind keeps afloat.
You pass the gates in a slow drawl
Of wheels. If it is warm at all
The Carillon will give you thought.
I climbed the stair in Antwerp church,
What time the urgent weight of sound
At sunset seems to heave it round.
Far up, the Carillon did search
The wind; and the birds came to perch
Far under, where the gables wound.
In Antwerp harbour on the Scheldt
I stood along, a certain space
Of night. The mist was near my face:
Deep on, the flow was heard and felt.
The Carillon kept pause, and dwelt
In music through the silent place.
At Bruges, when you leave the train,
—A singing numbness in your ears,—
The Carillon's first sound appears
Only the inner moil. Again
A little minute though—your brain
Takes quiet, and the whole sense hears.
John Memmeling and John Van Eyck
Hold state at Bruges. In sore shame
I scanned the works that keep their name.
The Carillon, which then did strike
Mine ears, was heard of theirs alike;
It set me closer unto them.
I climbed at Bruges all the flight
The Belfry has of ancient stone.
For leagues I saw the east wind blown:
The earth was grey, the sky was white.
I stood so near upon the height
That my flesh left the Carillon.
Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
As but the off-scouring of the British sand;
And so much earth as was contributed
By English pilots when they heaved the lead;
Or what by the ocean's slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrecked cockle and the mussel-shell;
This indigested vomit of the sea
Fell to the Dutch by just propriety.
Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
They, with mad labour, fished the land to shore:
And dived as desperately for each piece
Of earth, as if 't had been of ambergris;
Collecting anxiously small loads of clay,
Less than what building swallows bear away;
Or than those pills which sordid beetles roll
Transfusing into them their dunghill soul!
How did they rivet, with gigantic piles,
Thorough the centre their new-catchèd miles;
And to the stake a struggling country bound,
Where barking waves still bait the forcèd ground;
Building their watery Babel far more high
To reach the sea, than those to scale the sky.
Yet still his claim the injured ocean laid,
And oft at leap-frog o'er their steeples played;
As if on purpose it on land had come
To shew them what's their mare liberum,
A daily deluge over them does boil;
The earth and water play at level-coil.
The fish oft-times the burgher dispossessed,
And sat, not as a meat, but as a guest;
And oft the Tritons, and the sea-nymphs, saw
Whole shoals of Dutch served up for Cabillau;
Or, as they over the new level ranged,
For pickled herring, pickled heeren changed.
While with labour assiduous due pleasure I mix,
And in one day atone for the business of six,
In a little Dutch chaise, on a Saturday night,
On my left hand my Horace, a nymph on my right;
No memoirs to compose, and no post-boy to move,
That on Sunday may hinder the softness of love.
For her neither visits nor parties at tea,
Nor the long-winded cant of a dull refugee.
This night and the next shall be hers, shall be mine,
To good or ill fortune the third we resign.
Thus scorning the world, and superior to fate,
I drive in my car in professional state.
So with Phia through Athens Pisistratus rode;
Men thought her Minerva, and him a new god.
But why should I stories of Athens rehearse
Where people knew love, and were partial to verse,
Since none can with justice my pleasures oppose
In Holland half-drownèd in interest and prose?
By Greece and past ages what need I be tried
When The Hague and the present are both on my side;
And is it enough for the joys of the day
To think what Anacreon or Sappho would say?
When good Vandergoes and his provident vrow,
As they gaze on my triumph do freely allow,
That, search all the province, you'll find no man dar is
So blest as the Englishen Heer Secretar' is.
The Hague, 1696.
I gaze upon a city,
A city new and strange;
Down many a watery vista
My fancy takes a range;
From side to side I saunter,
And wonder where I am;—
And can you be in England,
And I at Rotterdam!
Before me lie dark waters,
In broad canals and deep,
Whereon the silver moonbeams
Sleep, restless in their sleep;
A sort of vulgar Venice
Reminds me where I am,—
Yes, yes, you are in England,
And I'm at Rotterdam.
Tall houses with quaint gables,
Where frequent windows shine,
And quays that lead to bridges,
And trees in formal line,
And masts of spicy vessels,
From distant Surinam,
All tell me you're in England,
And I'm in Rotterdam.
Those sailors,—how outlandish
The face and garb of each!
They deal in foreign gestures,
And use a foreign speech;
A tongue not learned near Isis,
Or studied by the Cam,
Declares that you're in England,
But I'm at Rotterdam.
And now across a market
My doubtful way I trace,
Where stands a solemn statue,
The Genius of the place;
And to the great Erasmus
I offer my salaam,—
Who tells me you're in England,
And I'm at Rotterdam.
The coffee-room is open,
I mingle in its crowd;
The dominoes are rattling,
The hookahs raise a cloud;
A flavour, none of Fearon's,
That mingles with my dram,
Reminds me you're in England,
But I'm in Rotterdam,
Then here it goes, a bumper,—
The toast it shall be mine.
In Schiedam, or in Sherry,
Tokay, or Hock of Rhine,—
It well deserves the brightest
Where sunbeam ever swam,—
'The girl I love in England,'
I drink at Rotterdam!
THE PROGRESS OF ERROR
No plainer truth appears,
Our most important are our earliest years;
The mind, impressible and soft, with ease
Imbibes and copies what she hears and sees,
And through life's labyrinth holds fast the clue
That education gives her, false or true.
Plants raised with tenderness are seldom strong;
Man's coltish disposition asks the thong;
And, without discipline, the favourite child,
Like a neglected forester, runs wild.
But we, as if good qualities would grow
Spontaneous, take but little pains to sow;
We give some Latin, and a smatch of Greek;
Teach him to fence and figure twice a week;
And, having done, we think, the best we can,
Praise his proficiency, and dub him man.
From school to Cam or Isis, and thence home;
And thence, with all convenient speed, to Rome,
With reverend tutor, clad in habit lay,
To tease for cash, and quarrel with, all day;
With memorandum-book for every town,
And every post, and where the chaise broke down;
His stock, a few French phrases got by heart;
With much to learn, but nothing to impart,
The youth, obedient to his sire's commands,
Sets off a wanderer into foreign lands.
Surprised at all they meet, the gosling pair,
With awkward gait, stretched neck, and silly stare,
Discover huge cathedrals, built with stone,
And steeples towering high, much like our own;
But show peculiar light by many a grin
At popish practices observed within.
Ere long, some bowing, smirking, smart abbé,
Remarks two loiterers that have lost their way;
And, being always primed with politesse
For men of their appearance and address,
With much compassion undertakes the task
To tell them—more than they have wit to ask:
Points to inscriptions wheresoe'er they tread,
Such as, when legible, were never read,
But, being cankered now, and half worn out,
Craze antiquarian brains with endless doubt;
Some headless hero, or some Caesar shows—
Defective only in his Roman nose;
Exhibits elevations, drawings, plans,
Models of Herculanean pots and pans;
And sells them medals, which, if neither rare
Nor ancient, will be so, preserved with care.
Strange the recital! from whatever cause
His great improvement and new lights he draws,
The squire, once bashful, is shame-faced no more,
But teems with powers he never felt before;
Whether increased momentum, and the force
With which from clime to clime he sped his course,
(As axles sometimes kindle as they go)
Chafed him, and brought dull nature to a glow;
Or whether clearer skies and softer air,
That make Italian flowers so sweet and fair,
Freshening his lazy spirits as he ran,
Unfolded genially, and spread the man;
Returning, he proclaims, by many a grace,
By shrugs, and strange contortions of his face,
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home.
ADVICE AGAINST TRAVEL
Traverse not the globe for lore! The sternest
But the surest teacher is the heart;
Studying that and that alone, thou learnest
Best and soonest whence and what thou art.
Time, not travel, 'tis which gives us ready
Speech, experience, prudence, tact, and wit.
Far more light the lamp that bideth steady
Than the wandering lantern doth emit.
Moor, Chinese, Egyptian, Russian, Roman,
Tread one common down-hill path of doom;
Everywhere the names are Man and Woman,
Everywhere the old sad sins find room.
Evil angels tempt us in all places.
What but sands or snows hath earth to give?
Dream not, friend, of deserts and oases,
But look inwards, and begin to live!
HAD CAIN BEEN SCOT
Had Cain been Scot, God would have changed his doom,—
Not forced him wander, but confined him home.
A SONG OF THE ROAD
The gauger walked with willing foot,
And aye the gauger played the flute;
And what should Master Gauger play
But Over the hills and far away?
Whene'er I buckle on my pack
And foot it gaily in the track,
O pleasant gauger, long since dead,
I hear you fluting on ahead.
You go with me the self-same way—
The self-same air for me you play;
For I do think and so do you,
It is the tune to travel to.
For who would gravely set his face
To go to this or t'other place?
There's nothing under Heav'n so blue
That's fairly worth the travelling to.
On every hand the roads begin,
And people walk with zeal therein;
But whereso'er the highways tend,
Be sure there's nothing at the end.
Then follow you, wherever hie
The travelling mountains of the sky.
Or let the streams in civil mode
Direct your choice upon a road;
For one and all, or high or low,
Will lead you where you wish to go;
And one and all go night and day
Over the hills and far away!