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RECOLLECTIONS OF SOLITUDE; AN ELEGY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ended are many days, and now but few
Last Line: Of beauty shalt create for evermore.
Alternate Author Name(s): Bridges, Robert+(2)
Subject(s): Solitude; Loneliness

Ended are many days, and now but few
Remain; since therefore it is happy and true
That memoried joys keep ever their delight,
Like steadfast stars in the blue vault of night,
While hours of pain (among those heavenly spheres
Like falling meteors, the martyr's tears)
Dart their long trails at random, and anon,
Ere we exclaim, pass, and for aye are gone;
Therefore my heedy thought will oft restore
The long light-hearted days that are no more,
Save where in her memorial crypt they shine
Spangling the silent past with joy divine.

But why in dream of this enchanted mood
Should all my boyhood seem a solitude?
Good reason know I, when I wander there,
In that transmuted scene, why all is fair;
The woods as when in holiday of spring
Million buds burst, and flowers are blossoming;
The meadows deep in grass, the fields unshorn
In beauty of the multitudinous corn,
Where the strait alleys hide me, wall'd between
High bloomy stalks and rustling banners green;
The gardens, too, in dazzling hues full-blown,
With wafted scent and blazing petals strewn;
The orchards reddening thro' the patient hours,
While idle autumn in his mossy bowers
Inviteth meditation to endear
The sanctuaries of the mellowing year;
And every spot wherein I loved to stray
Hath borrowed radiance of eternal day;
But why am I ever alone, alone?
Here in the corner of a field my throne,
Now in the branching chair of some tall tree
Drinking the gale in bird-like liberty;
Or to the seashore wandered in the sun
To watch the fateful waves break one by one;
Or if on basking downs supine I lie
Bathing my spirit in blue calms of the sky;
Or to the river bank am stolen by night
Hearkening unto the moonlit ripple bright
That warbles o'er the shallows of smooth stone;
Why should my memory find me all alone,
When I had such companions every day
Jocund and dear? 'Twixt glimpses of their play
'Tis a vast solitude, wherein I see
Only myself and what I came to be.

Yet never think, dear spirits, if now ye may
Remember aught of that brief earthly day,
Ere ye the mournful Stygian river crost,
From our familiar home too early lost, --
O never think that I your tears forget,
Or that I loved not well, or love not yet.
Nor ye who held my heart in passion's chain, --
As kings and queens succeed in glorious reign --
When, as a man, I made you to outvie
God's work, and, as a god, then set you by
Among the sainted throng in holiest shrine
Of mythic creed and poetry divine;
True was my faith, and still your loves endure,
The jewels of my fancy, bright and pure.

Nor only in fair places do I see
The picture fair now it has ceased to be:
For fate once led me, and myself some days
Did I devote, to dull laborious ways,
By soaring thought detained to tread full low, --
Yea might I say unbeauteous paths of woe
And dreary abodes, had not my youthful sprite
Hallow'd each nook with legends of delight.
Ah! o'er that smoky town who looketh now
By winter sunset from the dark hill-brow,
Under the dying trees exultantly
Nursing the sting of human tragedy?
Or in that little room upstair'd so high,
Where London's roofs in thickest huddle lie,
Who now returns at evening to entice
To his fireside the joys of Paradise?
Once sacred was that hearth, and bright the air;
The flame of man's redemption flickered there,
In worship of those spirits, whose deathless fames
Have thrilled the stars of heaven to hear their names;
They that excell'd in wisdom to create
Beauty, with mortal passion conquering fate;
And, mid the sovran powers of elder time,
The loveliness of music and new rhyme,
The masters young that first enthrallèd me;
Of whom if I should name, whom then but thee,
Sweet Shelley, or the boy whose book was found
Thrust in thy bosom on thy body drowned?

O mighty Muse, wooer of virgin thought,
Beside thy charm all else counteth as nought;
The revelation of thy smile doth make
Him whom thou lovest reckless for thy sake;
Earthborn of suffering, that knowest well
To call thine own, and with enamouring spell
Feedest the stolen powers of godlike youth
On dear imagination's only truth,
Building with song a temple of desire;
And with the yearning music of thy quire,
In nuptial sacrament of thought and sense
Hallowest for toil the hours of indolence:
Thou in thy melancholic beauty drest,
Subduest ill to serve thy fair behest,
With tragic tears, and sevenfold purified
Silver of mirth; and with extremest pride,
With secret doctrine and unfathomed lore
Remainest yet a child for evermore,
The only enchantress of the earth that art
To cheer his day and staunch man's bleeding heart.

O heavenly Muse, for heavenly thee we call
Who in the fire of love refinest all,
Accurst is he who heark'neth not thy voice;
But happy he who, numbered of thy choice,
Walketh aloof from nature's clouded plan:
For all God's world is, but the thought of man;
Wherein hast thou re-formed a world apart,
The mutual mirror of his better heart.
There is no foulness, misery, nor sin,
But he who loves finds his desire therein,
And there with thee in lonely commerce lives:
Nay, all that nature gave or fortune gives,
Joys that his spirit is most jealous of,
His only-embraced and best-deserving love,
Who walketh in the noon of heavenly praise,
The troubled godhead of his children's gaze,
Wear thine eternity, and are loved best
By thee transfigured and in thee possest;
Who madest beauty, and from thy boundless store
Of beauty shalt create for evermore.

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