Appendix Two - 7
Evening, I hail the music of thy car -
I gaze in rapture on thy tranquil brow,
And woo retirement in thy pleasing shade.
But ‘tis not solitude; for while I muse,
The spirits of the great and glorious dead,
In majesty before my vision throng.
Milton, thou prince of everlasting song,
In whose illumined page the light and love
Of uncreate effulgence ever burn,
With what collossal power art thou invest,
When all the melodies of highest heaven,
And all the groans of deepest hell are heard;
Whilst we are wrapt in awful ecstasy,
Trembling to view thy daring flight above,
And shrinking from the horrors of thy deep.
And that republic, too, which oft arose
Visioned in splendour to thy charmed soul,
I long to see; and, in the ardent tones
Of youthful love, I pray that it may come.
But why didst thou in mode of passion strive
To crush that verdant bower of paradise,
Where each domestic fountain murmurs joy.
Shakspere, I often mark thy lightning eye,
Which flamed, till every terrible recess
In that mysterious cavern - human heart,
Glared in distinctness. Lo! thy plastic hand
Wakes into action countless dreadful forms;
Or shapings of angelic beauties rise.
Revenge with carmined robe, and hideous ruin,
Gazing with lidless and insatiate eyes,
On nature's wreck and human agonies;
Pale envy wreathed with hissing snakes; despair
Enwrapt in midnight gloom; and madness fierce,
Exulting ‘mid destruction's funeral fires.
And there is mildly breathing charity
And peace, medicinal with healing balm -
Unsullied chastity, and friendship pure -
Firm patriotism, glowing uncorrupt -
Feminine constancy, that closer clings
In every gust; and filial love as sweet
And blessed in descent as morning dew.
O, why didst thou, philosopher and bard,
Jar all the melody of thy deep scenes,
By calling up distorted phantasms
Of mirth obscene, and filthy revelry.
Thou art an idol, wonderful in strength:
Refulgent with a head of burnished gold;
But downward there are iron, brass, and clay,
Which the bright stone of purity must crush
To dust and to oblivion. Who is this,
That presses on with haughty giant strides?
Panting to overtake the wond'rous two, -
For whom the world has reared the brightest thrones.
‘Tis he who sung the heartless pilgrimage
Of scowling Harold. He, who bodied forth
The dark demoniac workings of that soul,
Which first beheld the dread and blasting sight
Of death, in desolate emblazonry;
Holding out shrivelled scooped hands, to catch
The first rich offering at his gloomy shrine.
‘Tis he who robed in gloom and mystery,
In sullen grandeur paced all countries o'er;
Striving to make the whole creation groan,
In mournful music, for his spirit's throes.
And who, in moods of withering merriment,
Made sport of themes, o'er which archangels bend
In deepening swell of homage and of joy.
Thou standest like some mighty ocean rock,
From which the ceasless dashing of the waves,
Has washed away all life-sustaining power; -
Sublime, but ever bleak and verdureless.
Lo! Coleridge comes in wild and wizard power;
Weave a rich chaplet for the mighty brow
Of him who shaped the "Ancient Mariner,"
And sent him a mysterious voyage o'er sea;
Whose voicings ne'er had broke on human ear,
That he might learn the riches of that love,
Which blesseth all who breath its balmy airs.
And poured his " musings" fervently intense,
In streams of rapid music: kindling
In human hearts, refining sympathy,
With adoration, liberty, and truth.
Fatal the time, when thou, who could have soared
With seraphim, was crouching to the earth,
The wretched slave of enervating drug.
Long years the deadly and enslaving trance,
Brooded in darkness o'er thy pining soul;
But, when at last awake, ‘tis joy to know
Thou sought the shadow of that tree of life,
Where deep repose is granted. Where the fruit
Is food that braceth every nerve - the leaves
A medicine that heals the spirit's sores,
Giving new life and godlike energies
Which cannot be repressed; but ever spring
In healthy action to their parent source,
And in his smile are blest and sanctified.
But here is one with genius on his brow,
And madness in his eye: who deified
A fatherless and solitary world;
Bidding the omnipresent God depart,
From scenes with his devotion deeply curst.
He bids his icy domes sublimely rise.
The frost-work phantoms round the pillars glide
In frigid beauty: streams are petrified;
They stagnate as they flow; though oft dim eyes
Imagine that they still are rushing on.
Superbly fretted each expanded roof -
Enchanting glitters every storied wall -
Smooth and pellucid every polished floor: -
All is magnificent, but all is cold!
Art shivering? Breathe but one breath of truth
In vital warmth, and lo! in tumult wild,
The huge piles rush into a turbid stream;
Which the enchanter with his magic art,
'Contrived to shape, but could not vivify.
Poor Shelley: gulphed beneath the ruthless wave,
Thou knowest ere now, if God, and heaven, and hell,
Be solemn verities, or idle dreams.
Hail, Cowper, hail ! in rich fidelity
Of moral painting - in the picturing
Of household truths, and social sympathies -
Whose page is sweet as thine? So faithfully
Thou painted nature and her living lord,
In bland inviting aspect, that the man
Who does not love the rapt and fervent bard,
And reverence his spirit-stirring theme,
Has heart and feelings which I envy not.
Truth - immortality - eternal life; -
Rights, human or divine - the ground of hope -
The features of despair - the fount of joy -
Nature's bright face, and satire's massive blade -
The tranquil tone of human charities -
The privileges of that family,
Who drink their greatness from the streaming cross, -
All graphically radiate in thy "Task."
Lo! White and Pollock joyously advance; -
Both sung of time: and by his river broad,
In chastened melancholy mused; and oft
Heard the wild cadences of gurgling waves,
That over genius, art, and science closed
Both lit their torches at the lamp, which God
In mercy kindled in benighted world;
And, as they travelled, lifted high the voice
Of warning harp, harmonious and pure.
Both gave bright promise of maturity,
In ripe and mellow greatness; both did wane,
And perish from the earth in youthful bloom.
Exquisite transformation! - they are twins
In genius, death, and immortality.
Careering wildly, blown by passion's gale,
Two children of storm and fire draw nigh:
The one from misty lakes and hoary mounts -
From hallowed fountains and from Titan groves,
Called forth the giant forms and bid them live,
And glow in antique splendour; but the youth,
Maddened by cold neglect and penury,
Which his own passions harbingered and fixed,
Lifts to his head the deadly poison-cup,
And dies! - in dark and hopeless anguish dies!
The other sung the charms of vernal love -
The milder beauties of the heavens and earth,
In strains of thrilling pathos; or in flame,
He lit up patriotism's flickering fires,
To public spirit giving brighter tone.
Or, mantled round with superstition's mist,
Beheld the furious reels of haggard sprites,
On wanly lighted heaths, in forests grim;
Holding dark riot - weaving wicked spells.
But he, with song so varied and so rich,
With all his vict'ries, was the veriest slave
That ever moved in torture; wreathed around
With burning chains which Passion ever forged,
In scowling wrath or frenzied joy he raved,
Till Poverty his towering spirit broke,
And fell Disease consumed his iron frame.
Yes! Chatterton and Burns, in life and death
Ye wrote, in characters which cannot fade,
This solemn truth:- "that, in the troubled souls,
Who wander far from Christian purity, -
From vestal chastity, and heavenly hope,
Reason, with all her keen, energic powers, -
Fancy, with all her bright imaginings, -
Wit, with the barbed arrows of her strength, -
Are but the meteors of a moonless night,
Though oft mistaken for the risen day.
What intellectual giant passes now;
Whose eye in depth of glory ever rolls? -
Around whose lambent brow irradiant forms
Bind the unfading laurel? It is he
Whom Caledonia, stern and stormy, reared
In mystic scenes, that he might travel forth,
And, with enchanting voice, awake to life
The spirits of romance; and bid them raise
In vivid pomp the domes of olden times;
Where Oratory fulmined. Beauty smiled,
And poets sung the joys of chivalry.
What depths of pathos! what serenity!
What chastened passion! - living - natural!
What grasp of character! what streams of thought!
Still deep'ning, as they musically rush
O'er wild and graphic scenery. O, Scott!
Thou didst not leave thy mantle on the earth;
For, since thy flight, Romance has grown diseased;
And, in her fits of agony, belched forth
Phantoms of turbid passion, big with fate;
Heaving, and labouring, and storming on,
Where radiant Nature rarely shows her face.
And, if diseased, ‘tis manifest that pain
Has eat away her kindly sympathies;
For she has sent distorted scoffing things,
Appealing to each narrow prejudice; -
To every base and selfish principle;
And mocking over scenes where angels weep.
And there is he who sung, in artless strains,
The fruitless search to find, in varied climes
And differing lands, that deep tranquillity,
Which only reigns in individual minds.*
And he, whose elegy, enshrined within
Th' unfathomable secrecies of soul,
Breathes solemn strains in Contemplation's ear.**
With him whose oriental fancy ranged
Amid Arabia's wild magnificence;
And, having seen the genii rise in might,
From every golden grove and silver fount,
Came home, and waked the passions from their cells;
Bidding them wheel in mystic dance, and raise
The voice of song in rapture or repose.*
There comes the outcast from his mother's love,
Whom friends disowned, but genius ever blessed;
Who led his "Wanderer" through dreadful scenes
Of elemental strife or human woe,
That he might learn their purifying power,
In balmy freshness and in sacred calm.**
And there is he, whose spirit tremulous
Warbled exquisitely its tender plaints;
Too delicately beautiful to bear
The ruthless blow of critic's iron mace.***
Lo, the bright shepherd leaves his flocks and herds
To charm the world with song original.
‘Tis strange that they who took such great delight
In honouring the bard from Ettrick's vale,
Should strive to soil his laurels! Vain the task;
For while "Kilmeny" and the "Witch of Fife,"
In wild or plaintive beauty glow and live,
His nobly-earned renown can never die.****
But there are two with whom I long have walked
In sweet communion; conspicuous
In purity and energy of song.
The one, from lofty pedestal beheld
Spring, with life-giving lute and healing showers;
Summer in living splendour; autumn, clothed
In rich tranquillity; and winter dread,
In cloudy blackness drear: and, as they passed,
In hymns of glory solemnized their flight.
Or, deep within the decorated bowers
Of Indolence luxurious, swept such tones
As waked the manly knight, who lifted high
His truthful wand, and bid their sorc'ries cease,
Which long had charmed, enslaved, and then destroyed.*
The other, with sublimer eye, and soul
Of deeper melody, with lightning key
Unlocked Imagination's gorgeous caves;
And, as her forces rose in volleyed fire,
He spread his daring wing, and, with them, swept
In dazzling flight the tract of earth and heaven.**
Both were the worshippers of liberty;
Their fragrant incense played around her shrine, -
Their costly offerings, on her altar laid,
Refulgent blazed; as truth's meridian sun
In glory lit the consecrated scene.
Shades of the mighty! whither are ye fled?
The night's enormous shadows roll along,
And ye are curtained! - Rest ye, then; I turn
To view the living worthies of the lyre;
For Southey's chaste and varied song is heard,
In Saxon purity and mother tones,
Winding into each heart with soothing charm.
Rich in description is thy living page,
Most accurate of nature's pencillers.
We see the granite rocks in terror frown,
O'er which the savage torrents furious leap
In rending exultation; or we hear
The quiet music of romantic streams,
Meandering through vales of loveliness -
All redolent of peace and lulling airs,
Thy pictures live before the wondering eye.
And thou hadst moral pathos in the days
When youthful nerve was braced by freedom's voice;
But since transformed into the willing slave,
Of royal puppetry and priestly guile,
Thy muse has strayed ‘mid wild mythologies,
Rearing up piles of monstrous phantasy -
Distorted, heavy, crumbling to decay.
Hail! Christian bard, who waked the inspiring hymn,
In more than mortal music to thy God;
Who pictured all the solemn giant groves,
The heaven aspiring hills, the rivers broad;
That swept in noiseless, but resistless might,
In the unriven world before the flood.
And, in appalling contrast to the glow
Of splendour reigning over every scene,
The deep depravity of fallen men,
In dark revolt against Almighty power;
Severing all ties of holy brotherhood,
With blades immersed in sanguinary streams.
But when the love of Him who left his throne,
To ransom rebel men, becomes thy theme;
‘Tis then thy genius rises in its tone,
And deepens in the volume of its might; -
Diffusing life and verdure as it flows.
In mild and pensive beauty Rogers comes;
Whose solemn contemplations ‘mid the ruin
Of Italy's time-hallowed scenery,
Expand the musing soul. Sweet Magian
Of memory's mazy cell, thy page serene,
Enchants the calmly meditative mind.
Lo! Cornwall grasps the lyre: and who like him
Can bid the fountains of the heart gush forth
In melting tenderness; or paint that grief,
Which cannot breathe its plaintless passion out,
In quest of mollifying sympathies.
And: there the "Corn-law Rhymer" fiercely stands,
Calling eternal justice from the heavens;
Whose massive blade in circling terror whirled,
Scathes the unholy foes of peace and truth.
The citadels of darkness and despair,
Where shrivelled famine mocks industrious hope,
Are quaking as his thunder-blasts are hurled
By giant arm, in retributive awe.
The man long wasted by diseases fierce,
Pants for the cheering breath of cheering morn,
To cool the fevered sockets, where his eyes
In restless dimness roll. The mariner,
Now whirled by tempest on the mountain foam -
Now sunk in gulphs which crave for human wreck;
In anguish longs to gaze upon that home,
Where all the pledges of his early love,
In joyousness around their mother cling.
The Christian, wearied in a world of care,
Where darkness, sin, and sorrow, ever reign,
With eye sublime, looks to that promised land,
Where night, or pain, or curse, can never come.
Who is it with unrivalled melody,
With force and fire that cannot be surpassed,
That sings the pleasures of reviving hope?
Overshadowing with wings of radiancy,
The sick, the sea-begirt, the pure in heart;
Reluming fading eyes and drooping minds.
Nor are majestic force and harmony
His only praise; for oft in shorter flights,
Glimpses of terrible sublimity
Burst on our spirits with an awful grasp: -
And then again ‘tis still.* Hail! Wilson, hail!
I love thee as I see thine "Isle of Palms,"
In florid beauty rise; and oft, at even,
I view the solemn grandeur of that scene;
"The City of the Plague." The time will come -
Is coming rapidly, when public thought,
Expanded and refined by spreading light,
Will value sacredly the glowing power, -
Creative thought and glorious imagery,
Which opulently blazon in thy page.
Come to mine arms, my first and only love;
The beamings of thine eye as sweetly fall
Upon me, as the rays of lunar light,
That kiss the sleeping streams of evening.
Come then in ardour to a beating heart,
That ever throbs in unison with thine;
And find entranced repose upon the breast
Of him that raptly vowed to cherish thee.
Thy blessed smile has cheered me while I sung
The varied musings of a youthful bard:
Now join me in a raptured closing strain.
Blessings for ever wreathe the smiling hearth,
Where in deep music purple fountains play;
Where cherub guardians shake their balmy wings;
Where joy ecstatic, spotless sanctity -
Triumphant hope and tranquil peace are seen,
Sporting ‘mid scenes that bloom like Eden's grove.
Blessings for ever rise unto his name,
Who gave us pilgrims in a desert land,
This green oasis, ever beautiful,
With vistas opening into scenery,
Which sorrow, time, and death, can never waste.