Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LINES WRITTEN IN SWITZERLAND, by THOMAS LOVELL BEDDOES



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LINES WRITTEN IN SWITZERLAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What silence drear in england's oaky forest
Last Line: . . . . . .
Subject(s): Dramatists; England; Galileo (1564-1642); Newton, Sir Isaac (1642-1727); Plays & Playwrights ; Poetry & Poets; Pride; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822); Switzerland; Truth; English; Galileo Galilei; Dramatists; Self-este


WHAT silence drear in England's oaky forest,
Erst merry with the redbreast's ballad song
Or rustic roundelay! No hoof-print on the sward,
Where sometime danced Spenser's equestrian verse
Its mazy measure! Now by pathless brook
Gazeth alone the broken-hearted stag,
And sees no tear fall in from pitiful eye
Like kindest Shakespeare's. We, who marked how fell
Young Adonais, sick of vain endeavour
Larklike to live on high in tower of song;
And looked still deeper thro' each other's eyes
At every flash of Shelley's dazzling spirit,
Quivering like dagger on the breast of night,—
That seemed some hidden natural light reflected
Upon time's scythe, a moment and away;
We, who have seen Mount Rydal's snowy head
Bound round with courtly jingles; list so long
Like old Orion for the break of morn,
Like Homer blind for sound of youthful harp;
And, if a wandering music swells the gale,
'Tis some poor, solitary heartstring burst.
Well, Britain; let the fiery Frenchman boast
That at the bidding of the charmer moves
Their nation's heart, as ocean 'neath the moon
Silvered and soothed. Be proud of Manchester,
Pestiferous Liverpool, Ocean-Avernus,
Where bullying blasphemy, like a slimy lie,
Creeps to the highest church's pinnacle,
And glistening infects the light of heaven.
O flattering likeness on a copper coin!
Sit still upon your slave-raised cotton ball,
With upright toasting fork and toothless cat:
The country clown still holds her for a lion.
The voice, the voice! when the affrighted herds
Dash heedless to the edge of craggy abysses,
And the amazed circle of scared eagles
Spire to the clouds, amid the gletscher clash
When avalanches fall, nation-alarums,—
But clearer, though not loud, a voice is heard
Of proclamation or of warning stern.
Yet, if I tread out of the Alpine shade,
And once more weave the web of thoughtful verse,
May no vainglorious motive break my silence,
Since I have sate unheard so long, in hope
That mightier and better might assay
The potent spell to break, which has fair Truth
Banished so drear a while from mouths of song.
Though genius, bearing out of other worlds
New frieghts of thought from fresh-discovered mines,
Be but reciprocated love of Truth:
Witness kind Shakespeare, our recording angel,
Newton, whose thought rebuilt the universe,
And Galileo, broken-hearted seer,
Who, like a moon attracted naturally,
Kept circling round the central sun of Truth.
Not in the popular playhouse, or full throng
Of opera-gazers longing for deceit;
Not on the velvet day-bed, novel-strewn,
Or in the interval of pot and pipe;
Not between sermon and the scandalous paper,
May verse like this ere hope an eye to feed on't.
But if there be, who, having laid the loved
Where they may drop a tear in roses' cups,
With half their hearts inhabit other worlds;
If there be any—ah! were there but few—
Who watching the slow lighting up of stars,
Lonely at eve, like seamen sailing near
Some island-city where their dearest dwell,
Cannot but guess in sweet imagining,—
Alas! too sweet, doubtful, and melancholy,—
Which light is glittering from their loved one's home:
Such may perchance, with favourable mind,
Follow my thought along its mountainous path.
Now then to Caucasus, the cavernous.—

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