Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGIAC STANZAS, by WILLIAM WORDSWORTH



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ELEGIAC STANZAS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lulled by the sound of pastoral bells
Last Line: The rising pang to smother.
Subject(s): Drowning; Goddard, Frederick William (d. 1820); Zurich (lake), Switzerland


LULLED by the sound of pastoral bells,
Rude Nature's pilgrims did we go,
From the dread summit of the queen
Of mountains, through a deep ravine,
Where, in her holy chapel, dwells
"Our Lady of the Snow."

The sky was blue, the air was mild;
Free were the streams and green the bowers:
As if, to rough assaults unknown,
The genial spot had ever shown
A countenance that as sweetly smiled, --
The face of summer hours.

And we were gay, our hearts at ease;
With pleasure dancing through the frame
We journeyed; all we knew of care,
Our path that straggled here and there;
Of trouble, but the fluttering breeze;
Of Winter, but a name.

If foresight could have rent the veil
Of three short days -- but hush! -- no more!
Calm is the grave, and calmer none
Than that to which thy cares are gone,
Thou victim of the stormy gale,
Asleep on Zurich's shore!

O Goddard! what art thou? -- a name, --
A sunbeam followed by a shade!
Nor more, for aught that time supplies,
The great, the experienced, and the wise:
Too much from this frail earth we claim,
And therefore are betrayed.

We met, while festive mirth ran wild,
Where, from a deep lake's mighty urn,
Forth slips, like an enfranchised slave,
A sea-green river, proud to lave,
With current swift and undefiled,
The towers of old Lucerne.

We parted upon solemn ground
Far lifted towards the unfading sky;
But all our thoughts were then of earth,
That gives to common pleasures birth,
And nothing in our hearts we found
That prompted even a sigh.

Fetch, sympathizing powers of air,
Fetch, ye that post o'er seas and lands,
Herbs moistened by Virginian dew,
A most untimely grave to strew,
Whose turf may never know the care
Of kindred human hands!

Beloved by every gentle Muse,
He left his transatlantic home:
Europe, a realized romance,
Had opened on his eager glance;
What present bliss! what golden views!
What stores for years to come!

Though lodged within no vigorous frame,
His soul her daily tasks renewed,
Blithe as the lark on sun-gilt wings
High poised, or as the wren that sings
In shady places to proclaim
Her modest gratitude.

Not vain is sadly uttered praise;
The words of truth's memorial vow
Are sweet as morning fragrance shed
From flowers mid Goldau's ruins bred,
As evening's fondly lingering rays
On Righi's silent brow.

Lamented youth! to thy cold clay
Fit obsequies the stranger paid;
And piety shall guard the stone
Which hath not left the spot unknown
Where the wild waves resigned their prey,
And that which marks thy bed.

And when thy mother weeps for thee,
Lost youth! a solitary mother;
This tribute from a casual friend
A not unwelcome aid may lend,
To feed the tender luxury,
The rising pang to smother.





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