Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ESSAY ON MIND, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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AN ESSAY ON MIND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Since spirit first inspir'd, pervaded all
Last Line: That tells creation where his steps have been!


BOOK I

SINCE Spirit first inspir'd, pervaded all,
And Mind met Matter, at th' Eternal call --
Since dust weigh'd Genius down, or Genius gave
Th' immortal halo to the mortal's grave;
Th' ambitious soul her essence hath defin'd,
And Mind hath eulogiz'd the pow'rs of Mind.
Ere Revelation's holy light began
To strengthen Nature, and illumine Man --
When Genius, on Icarian pinions, flew,
And Nature's pencil, Nature's portrait, drew;
When Reason shudder'd at her own wan beam,
And Hope turn'd pale beneath the sickly gleam --
Ev'n then hath Mind's triumphant influence spoke,
Dust own'd the spell, and Plato's spirit woke --
Spread her eternal wings, and rose sublime
Beyond th' expanse of circumstance and time:
Blinded, but free, with faith instinctive, soar'd,
And found her home, where prostrate saints ador'd!

Thou thing of light! that warm'st the breasts of men,
Breath'st from the lips, and tremblest from the pen!
Thou, form'd at once t' astonish, fire, beguile, --
With Bacon reason, and with Shakespeare smile!
The subtle cause, ethereal essence! say,
Why dust rules dust, and clay surpasses clay;
Why a like mass of atoms should combine
To form a Tully, and a Catiline?
Or why, with flesh perchance of equal weight,
One cheers a prize-fight, and one frees a state?
Why do not I the muse of Homer call,
Or why, indeed, did Homer sing at all?
Why wrote not Blackstone upon love's delusion,
Or Moore, a libel on the Constitution?
Why must the faithful page refuse to tell
That Dante, Laura sang, and Petrarch, Hell --
That Tom Paine argued in the throne's defence --
That Byron nonsense wrote, and Thurlow sense --
That Southey sigh'd with all a patriot's cares,
While Locke gave utterance to Hexameters?
Thou thing of light! instruct my pen to find
Th' unequal pow'rs, the various forms of Mind!

O'er Nature's changeful face direct your sight;
View light meet shade, and shade dissolve in light!
Mark, from the plain, the cloud-capp'd mountain soar;
The sullen ocean spurn the desert shore!
Behold, afar, the playmate of the storm,
Wild Niagara lifts his awful form --
Spits his black foam above the madd'ning floods,
Himself the savage of his native woods --
See him, in air, his smoking torrents wheel,
While the rocks totter, and the forests reel --
Then, giddy, turn! lo! Shakespeare's Avon flows,
Charm'd, by the green-sward's kiss, to soft repose;
With tranquil brow reflects the smile of fame,
And, 'midst her sedges, sighs her Poet's name.
Thus, in bright sunshine, and alternate storms,
Is various mind express'd in various forms.
In equal men, why burns not equal fire?
Why are not valleys hills, -- or mountains higher?
Her destin'd way, hath destin'd Nature trod;
While Matter, Spirit rules, and Spirit, God.

Let outward scenes, for inward sense design'd,
Call back our wand'rings to the world of Mind!
Where Reason, o'er her vasty realms, may stand,
Convene proud thoughts, and stretch her scepter'd hand.
Here, classic recollections breathe around;
Here, living Glory consecrates the ground;
And here, Mortality's deep waters span
The shores of Genius, and the paths of Man!

O'er this imagin'd land, your soul direct --
Mark Byron, the Mont Blanc of intellect,
'Twixt earth and heav'n exalt his brow sublime,
O'erlook the nations, and shake hands with Time!
Stretch'd at his feet do Nature's beauties throng,
The flow'rs of love, the gentleness of song;
Above, the Avalanche's thunder speaks,
While Terror's spirit walks abroad, and shrieks!

To some Utopian strand, some fairy shore,
Shall soft-eyed Fancy waft her Campbell o'er!
Wont, o'er the lyre of Hope, his hand to fling,
And never waken a discordant string;
Who ne'er grows awkward by affecting grace,
Or 'Common sense confounds with commonplace;'
To bright conception, adds expression chaste,
And human feeling joins to classic taste.
For still, with magic art, he knows, and knew,
To touch the heart, and win the judgment too!

Thus, in uncertain radiance, Genius glows,
And fitful gleams on various mind bestows:
While Mind, exulting in th' admitted day,
On various themes, reflects its kindling ray.
Unequal forms receive an equal light;
And Klopstock wrote what Kepler could not write.

Yet Fame hath welcom'd a less noble few,
And Glory hail'd whom Genius never knew;
Art labor'd, Nature's birthright, to secure,
And forg'd, with cunning hand, her signature.
The scale of life is link'd by close degrees;
Motes float in sunbeams, mites exist in cheese;
Critics seize half the fame which bards receive, --
And Shakespeare suffers that his friends may live;
While Bentley leaves, on stilts, the beaten track,
And peeps at glory from some ancient's back.
But, though to hold a lantern to the sun
Be not too wise, and were as well undone --
Though, e'en in this inventive age, alas!
A moral darkness can't be cur'd by gas --
And, though we may not reasonably deem
How poets' craniums can be turn'd by steam --
Yet own we, in our juster reasonings,
That lanterns, gas, and steam, are useful things --
And oft, this truth, Reflection ponders o'er --
Bards would write worse, if critics wrote no more.

Let Jeffrey's praise, our willing pen, engage,
The letter'd critic of a letter'd age!
Who justly judges, rightfully discerns,
With wisdom teaches, and with candor learns.
His name on Scotia's brightest tablet lives,
And proudly claims the laurel that it gives.

Eternal Genius! fashion'd like the sun,
To make all beautiful thou look'st upon!
Prometheus of our earth! whose kindling smile
May warm the things of clay a little while;
Till, by thy touch inspir'd, thine eyes survey'd,
Thou stoop'st to love the glory thou hast made;
And weepest, human-like, the mortal's fall,
When, by-and-bye, a breath disperses all.
Eternal Genius! mystic essence! say,
How, on 'the chosen breast,' descends thy day!
Breaks it at once in Thought's celestial dream,
While Nature trembles at the sudden gleam?
Or steals it, gently, like the morning's light,
Shedding, unmark'd, an influence soft and bright,
Till all the landscape gather on the sight?

As different talents, different breasts, inspire,
So different causes wake the latent fire.
The gentle Cowley of our native clime,
Lisp'd his first accents in Aonian rhyme.
Alfieri's startling muse tun'd not her strings,
And dumbly look'd 'unutterable things;'
Till, when six lustrums o'er his head had past,
Conception found expression's voice at last;
Broke the bright light, uprose the smother'd flame, --
And Mind and Nature own'd their poet's fame!
To some the waving woods, the harp of spring,
A gently-breathing inspiration bring!
Some hear, from Nature's haunts, her whisper'd call;
And Mind hath triumph'd by an apple's fall.

Wave Fancy's picturing wand! recall the scene
Which Mind hath hallow'd -- where her sons have been --
Where, 'midst Olympia's concourse, simply great,
Th' historic sage, the son of Lyxes, sate,
Grasping th' immortal scroll -- he breath'd no sound,
But, calm in strength, an instant look'd around,
And rose -- the tone of expectation rush'd
Through th' eager throng -- he spake, and Greece was hush'd!
See, in that breathless crowd, Olorus stand,
While one fair boy hangs, list'ning, on his hand --
The young Thucydides! with upward brow
Of radiance, and dark eye, that beaming now
Full on the speaker, drinks th' inspired air --
Gazing entranc'd, and turn'd to marble there!
Yet not to marble -- for the wild emotion
Is kindling on his cheek, like light on ocean,
Coming to vanish; and his pulses throb
With transport, and the inarticulate sob
Swells to his lip -- internal nature leaps
To glorious life, and all th' historian weeps!
The mighty master mark'd the favor'd child --
Did Genius linger there? She did, and smil'd!
Still, on itself, let Mind its eye direct,
To view the elements of intellect --
How wild Invention (daring artist!) plies
Her magic pencil, and creating dies;
And Judgment, near the living canvass, stands,
To blend the colors for her airy hands;
While Memory waits, with twilight mists o'er-cast,
To mete the length'ning shadows of the past:
And bold Association, not untaught,
The links of fact, unites, with links of thought;
Forming th' electric chains, which, mystic, bind
Scholastic learning, and reflective mind.

Let reasoning Truth's unerring glance survey
The fair creations of the mental ray;
Her holy lips, with just discernment, teach
The forms, the attributes, the modes of each,
And tell, in simple words, the narrow span
That circles intellect, and fetters man;
Where darkling mists, o'er Time's last footstep, creep,
And Genius drops her languid wing -- to weep.

See first Philosophy's mild spirit, nigh,
Raise the rapt brow, and lift the thoughtful eye;
Whether the glimmering lamp, that Hist'ry gave,
Light her enduring steps to some lone grave;
The while she dreams on him, asleep beneath,
And conjures mystic thoughts of life and death --
Whether, on Science' rushing wings, she sweep
From concave heav'n to earth -- and search the deep;
Shewing the pensile globe attraction's force,
The tides their mistress, and the stars their course:
Or whether (task with nobler object fraught)
She turn the pow'rs of thinking back on thought --
With mind, delineate mind; and dare define
The point, where human mingles with divine:
Majestic still, her solemn form shall stand,
To shew the beacon on the distant land --
Of thought, and nature, chronicler sublime!
The world her lesson, and her teacher Time!
And when, with half a smile, and half a sigh,
She lifts old History's faded tapestry,
I' the dwelling of past years -- she, aye, is seen
Point to the shades, where bright'ning tints had been --
The shapeless forms outworn, and mildew'd o'er --
And bids us rev'rence what was lov'd before;
Gives the dank wreath and dusty urn to fame,
And lends its ashes -- all she can -- a name.
Think'st thou, in vain, while pale Time glides away,
She rakes cold graves, and chronicles their clay?
Think'st thou, in vain, she counts the boney things,
Once lov'd as patriots, or obey'd as kings?
Lifts she, in vain, the past's mysterious veil?
Seest thou no moral in her awful tale?
Can man, the crumbling pile of nations, scan, --
And is their mystic language mute for man?

Go! let the tomb its silent lesson give,
And let the dead instruct thee how to live!
If Tully's page hath bade thy spirit burn,
And lit the raptur'd cheek -- behold his urn!
If Maro's strains, thy soaring fancy, guide,
That hail 'th' eternal city' in their pride --
Then turn to mark, in some reflective hour,
The immortality of mortal pow'r!
See the crush'd column, and the ruin'd dome --
'T is all Eternity has left of Rome!
While travell'd crowds, with curious gaze, repair,
To read the littleness of greatness there!

Alas! alas! so, Albion shall decay,
And all my country's glory pass away!
So shall she perish, as the mighty must,
And be Italia's rival -- in the dust;
While her ennobled sons, her cities fair,
Be dimly thought of 'midst the things that were!
Alas! alas! her fields of pleasant green,
Her woods of beauty, and each well-known scene!
Soon, o'er her plains, shall grisly Ruin haste,
And the gay vale become the silent waste!
Ah! soon perchance, our native tongue forgot --
The land may hear strange words it knoweth not;
And the dear accents which our bosoms move,
With sounds of friendship, or with tones of love,
May pass away; or, conn'd on mould'ring page,
Gleam 'neath the midnight lamp, for unborn sage;
To tell our dream-like tale to future years,
And wake th' historian's smile, and schoolboy's tears!

Majestic task! to join, though plac'd afar,
The things that have been, with the things that are!
Important trust! the awful dead, to scan,
And teach mankind to moralize from man!
Stupendous charge! when, on the record true,
Depend the dead, and hang the living too!
And, oh! thrice impious he, who dares abuse
That solemn charge, and good and ill confuse!
Thrice guilty he who, false with 'words of sooth,'
Would pay, to Prejudice, his debt to Truth;
The hallow'd page of fleeting Time prophane,
And prove to Man that man has liv'd in vain;
Pass the cold grave, with colder jestings, by;
And use the truth to illustrate a lie!

Let Gibbon's name be trac'd, in sorrow, here, --
Too great to spurn, too little to revere!
Who follow'd Reason, yet forgot her laws,
And found all causes, but the 'great first Cause:'
The paths of time, with guideless footsteps, trod;
Blind to the light of nature and of God;
Deaf to the voice, amid the past's dread hour,
Which sounds his praise, and chronicles his pow'r!
In vain for him was Truth's fair tablet spread,
When Prejudice, with jaundiced organs, read.
In vain for us the polish'd periods flow,
The fancy kindles, and the pages glow;
When one bright hour, and startling transport past,
The musing soul must turn -- to sigh at last.
Still let the page be luminous and just,
Nor private feeling war with public trust;
Still let the pen from narrowing views forbear,
And modern faction ancient freedom spare.
But, ah! too oft th' historian bends his mind
To flatter party -- not to serve mankind;
To make the dead, in living feuds, engage,
And give all time, the feelings of his age.
Great Hume hath stoop'd, the Stuarts' fame, t' increase;
And ultra Mitford soar'd to libel Greece!

Yet must the candid muse, impartial, learn
To trace the errors which her eyes discern;
View ev'ry side, investigate each part,
And get the holy scroll of Truth by heart;
No blame misplac'd, and yet no fault forgot --
Like ink employ'd to write with -- not to blot.
Hence, while historians, just reproof, incur,
We find some readers, with their authors, err;
And soon discover, that as few excel
In reading justly, as in writing well.
For prejudice, or ignorance, is such,
That men believe too little, or too much;
Too apt to cavil, or too glad to trust,
With confidence misplac'd, or blame unjust.

Seek out no faction -- no peculiar school --
But lean on Reason, as your safest rule.
Let doubtful facts, with patient hand, be led,
To take their place on this Procrustian bed!
What, plainly, fits not, may be thrown aside,
Without the censure of pedantic pride:
For nature still, to just proportion, clings;
And human reason judges natural things.
Moreover, in th' historian's bosom look,
And weigh his feelings ere you trust his book;
His private friendships, private wrongs, descry,
Where tend his passions, where his int'rests lie --
And, while his proper faults your mind engage,
Discern the ruling foibles of his age.
Hence, when on deep research, the work you find
A too obtrusive transcript of his mind;
When you perceive a fact too highly wrought,
Which kindly seems to prove a fav'rite thought;
Or some opposing truth trac'd briefly out,
With hand of careless speed -- then turn to doubt!
For private feeling, like the taper, glows,
And here a light, and there a shadow, throws.

If some gay picture, vilely daubed, were seen
With grass of azure, and a sky of green,
Th' impatient laughter we'd suppress in vain,
And deem the painter jesting, or insane.
But, when the sun of blinding prejudice
Glares in our faces, it deceives our eyes;
Truth appears falsehood to the dazzled sight,
The comment apes the fact, and black seems white;
Commingled hues, their separate colors lost,
Dance wildly on, in bright confusion tost;
And, midst their drunken whirl, the giddy eye
Beholds one shapeless blot for earth and sky.

Of such delusions let the mind take heed,
And learn to think, or wisely cease to read;
And, if a style of labor'd grace display
Perverted feelings, in a pleasing way;
False tints, on real objects, brightly laid,
Facts in disguise, and Truth in masquerade --
If cheating thoughts in beauteous dress appear,
With magic sound, to captivate the ear --
Th' enchanting poison of that page decline,
Or drink Circean draughts -- and turn to swine!

We hail with British pride, and ready praise,
Enlightened Miller of our modern days!
Too firm though temp'rate, liberal though exact,
To give too much to argument or fact,
To love details, and draw no moral thence,
Or seek the comment, and forget the sense,
He leaves all vulgar aims, and strives alone
To find the ways of Truth, and make them known!

Spirit of life! for aye, with heav'nly breath,
Warm the dull clay, and cold abodes of death!
Clasp in its urn the consecrated dust,
And bind a laurel round the broken bust;
While mid decaying tombs, thy pensive choice,
Thou bidst the silent utter forth a voice,
To prompt the actors of our busy scene,
And tell what is, the tale of what has been!
Yet turn, Philosophy! with brow sublime,
Shall Science follow on the steps of Time!
As, o'er Thought's measureless depths, we bend to hear
The whispered sound, which stole on Descartes' ear,
Hallowing the sunny visions of his youth
With that eternal mandate, 'Search for Truth!'
Yes! search for Truth -- the glorious path is free;
Mind shews her dwelling -- Nature holds the key --
Yes! search for Truth -- her tongue shall bid thee scan
The book of knowledge, for the use of Man!

Man! Man! thou poor antithesis of power!
Child of all time! yet creature of an hour!
By turns, camelion of a thousand forms,
The lord of empires, and the food of worms!
The little conqueror of a petty space,
The more than mighty, or the worse than base!
Thou ruin'd landmark, in the desert way,
Betwixt the all of glory, and decay!
Fair beams the torch of Science in thine hand,
And sheds its brightness o'er the glimmering land;
While, in thy native grandeur, bold, and free,
Thou bid'st the wilds of nature smile for thee,
And treadest Ocean's paths full royally!
Earth yields her treasures up -- celestial air
Receives thy globe of life -- when, journeying there,
It bounds from dust, and bends its course on high,
And walks, in beauty, through the wondering sky.
And yet, proud clay! thine empire is a span,
Nor all thy greatness makes thee more than man!
While Knowledge, Science, only serve t' impart
The god thou would'st be, and the thing thou art!

Where stands the Syracusan -- while the roar
Of men, and engines, echoes through the shore?
Where stands the Syracusan? haggard Fate,
With ghastly smile, is sitting at the gate;
And Death forgets his silence 'midst the crash
Of rushing ruins -- and the torches' flash
Waves redly on the straggling forms that die;
And masterless steeds, beneath that gleam, dart by,
Scared into madness, by the battle cry --
And sounds are hurtling in the angry air,
Of hate, and pain, and vengeance, and de spair --
The smothered voice of babes -- the long wild shriek
Of mothers -- and the curse the dying speak!
Where stands the Syracusan? tranquil sage,
He bends, sublime, o'er Science' splendid page;
Walks the high circuit of extended mind,
Surpasses man, and dreams not of mankind;
While, on his listless ear, the battle shout
Falls senseless -- as if echo breath'd about
The hum of many words, the laughing glee,
Which linger'd there, when Syracuse was free.
Away! away! for louder accents fall --
But not the sounds of joy from marble hall!
Quick steps approach -- but not of sylphic feet,
Whose echo heralded a smile more sweet,
Coming, all sport, th' indulgent sage, t' upbraid
For lonely hours, to studious musing, paid --
Be hushed! Destruction bares the flickering blade!
He asked to live, th' unfinished lines to fill,
And died -- to solve a problem deeper still.
He died, the glorious! who, with soaring sight,
Sought some new world, to plant his foot of might;
Thereon, in solitary pride, to stand,
And lift our planet, with a master's hand!
He sank in death -- Creation only gave
That thorn-encumbered space which forms his grave --
An unknown grave, till Tully chanced to stray,
And named the spot where Archimedes lay!
Genius! behold the limit of thy power!
Thou fir'st the soul -- but, when life's dream is o'er,
Giv'st not the silent pulse one throb the more:
And mighty beings come, and pass away,
Like other comets, and like other -- clay.

Though analyzing Truth must still divide
Historic state, and scientific pride;
Yet one stale fact, our judging thoughts infer --
Since each is human, each is prone to err!
Oft, in the night of Time, doth History stray,
And lift her lantern, and proclaim it day!
And oft, when day's eternal glories shine,
Doth Science, boasting, cry -- 'The light is mine!'
So hard to bear, with unobstructed sight,
Th' excess of darkness, or th' extreme of light.

Yet, to be just, though faults belong to each,
The themes of one, an humbler moral, teach:
And, 'midst th' historian's eloquence, and skill,
The human chronicler is human still.
If on past power, his eager thoughts be cast,
It brings an awful antidote -- 't is past!
If, deathless fame, his ravish'd organs scan,
The deathless fame exists for buried man:
Power, and decay, at once he turns to view;
And, with the strength, beholds the weakness too.
Not so, doth Science' musing son aspire;
And pierce creation, with his eye of fire.
Yon mystic pilgrims of the starry way,
No humbling lesson, to his soul, convey;
No tale of change, their changeless course hath taught;
And works divine excite no earthward thought.
And still, he, reckless, builds the splendid dream;
And still, his pride increases with his theme;
And still, the cause is slighted in th' effect;
And still, self-worship follows self-respect.
Too apt to watch the engines of the scene,
And lose the hand, which moves the vast machine;
View Matter's form, and not its moving soul;
Interpret parts, and misconceive the whole:
While, darkly musing 'twixt the earth, and sky,
His heart grows narrow, as his hopes grow high;
And quits, for aye, with unavailing loss,
The sympathies of earth, but not the dross;
Till Time sweeps down the fabric of his trust;
And life, and riches, turn to death, and dust.

And such is Man! 'neath Error's foul assaults,
His noblest moods beget his grossest faults!
When Knowledge lifts her hues of varied grace,
The fair exotic of a brighter place,
To keep her stem, from mundane blasts, enshrin'd,
He makes a fatal hot-bed of his mind;
Too oft adapted, in their growth, to spoil
The natural beauties of a generous soil.
Ah! such is Man! thus strong, and weak withal,
His rise oft renders him too prone to fall!
The loftiest hills' fresh tints, the soonest, fade;
And highest buildings cast the deepest shade!

So Buffon err'd; amidst his chilling dream,
The judgment grew material as the theme:
Musing on Matter, till he called away
The modes of Mind, to form the modes of clay;
And made, confusing each, with judgment blind,
Mind stoop to dust, and dust ascend to Mind.
So Leibnitz err'd; when, in the starry hour,
He read no weakness, where was written, 'Power;'
Beheld the verdant earth, the circling sea;
Nor dreamt so fair a world could cease to be!
Yea! but he heard the Briton's awful name,
As, scattering darkness, in his might, he came,
Girded with Truth, and earnest to confute
What gave to Matter, Mind's best attribute.
Sternly they strove -- th' unequal race was run!
The owlet met the eagle at the sun!

While such defects, their various forms, unfold;
And rust, so foul, obscures the brightest gold --
Let science' soaring sons, the ballast, cast,
But judge their present errors, by their past.
As some poor wanderer, in the darkness, goes,
When fitful wind, in hollow murmur, blows;
Hailing, with trembling joy, the lightning's ray,
Which threats his safety, but illumes his way.

Gross faults buy deep experience. Sages tell
That Truth, like AEsop's fox, is in a well;
And, like the goat, his fable prates about,
Fools must stay in, that wise men may get out.
What thousand scribblers, of our age, would choose
To throw a toga round the English muse;
Rending her garb of ease, which graceful grew
From Dryden's loom, beprankt with varied hue!
In that dull aim, by Mind unsanctified,
What thousand Wits would have their wits belied,
Devoted Southey! if thou had'st not tried!
Use is the aim of Science; this the end
The wise appreciate, and the good commend.
For not, like babes, the flaming torch, we prize,
That sparkling lustre may attract our eyes;
But that, when evening shades impede the sight,
It casts, on objects round, a useful light.

Use is the aim of Science! give again
A golden sentence to the faithful pen --
Dwell not on parts! for parts contract the mind;
And knowledge still is useless, when confined.
The yearning soul, inclosed in narrow bound,
May be ingenious, but is ne'er profound:
Spoil'd of its strength, the fettered thought grows tame;
And want of air extinguishes the flame!
And as the sun, beheld in mid-day blaze,
Seems turned to darkness, as we strive to gaze;
So mental vigor, on one object, cast,
That object's self becomes obscured at last.
'T is easy, as Experience may aver,
To pass from general to particular.
But most laborious to direct the soul
From studying parts, to reason on the whole:
Thoughts, train'd on narrow subjects, to let fall;
And learn the unison of each with all.

In Nature's reign, a scale of life, we find:
A scale of knowledge, we behold, in mind;
With each progressive link, our steps ascend,
And traverse all, before they reach the end;
Searching, while Reason's powers may farther go,
The things we know not, by the things we know.

But hold! methinks some sons of Thought demand,
'Why strive to form the Trajan's vase in sand?
Are Reason's paths so few, that Mind may call
Her finite energies, to tread them all?
Lo! Learning's waves, in bounded channel, sweep;
When they flow wider, shall they run as deep?
Shall that broad surface, no dull shallow, hide,
Growing dank weeds of superficial pride?
Then Heaven may leave our giant powers alone;
Nor give each soul a focus of its own!
Genius bestows, in vain, the chosen page,
If all the tome, the minds of all, engage!'

Nay! I reply -- with free congenial breast,
Let each peruse the part, which suits him best!
But, lest contracting prejudice mislead,
Regard the context, as he turns to read!
Hence, liberal feeling gives th' enlighten'd soul,
The spirit, with the letter of the scroll.

With what triumphant joy, what glad surprise,
The dull behold the dullness of the wise!
What insect tribes of brainless impudence
Buzz round the carcase of perverted sense!
What railing ideots hunt, from classic school,
Each flimsy sage, and scientific fool,
Crying, ''T is well! we see the blest effect
Of watchful night, and toiling intellect!'
Yet let them pause, and tremble -- vainly glad;
For too much learning maketh no man mad!
Too little dims the sight, and leads us o'er
The twilight path, where fools have been before;
With not enough of Reason's radiance seen,
To track the footsteps, where those fools have been.

Divinest Newton! if my pen may shew
A name so mighty, in a verse so low, --
Still let the sons of Science, joyful, claim
The bright example of that splendid name!
Still let their lips repeat, my page bespeak,
The sage how learned! and the man how meek!
Too wise, to think his human folly less;
Too great, to doubt his proper littleness;
Too strong, to deem his weakness past away;
Too high in soul, to glory in his clay:
Rich in all nature, but her erring side:
Endow'd with all of Science -- but its pride.

BOOK II

But now to higher themes! no more confin'd
To copy Nature, Mind returns to Mind.
We leave the throng, so nobly, and so well,
Tracing, in Wisdom's book, things visible, --
And turn to things unseen; where, greatly wrought,
Soul questions soul, and thought revolves on thought.
My spirit loves, my voice shall hail ye, now,
Sons of the patient eye, and passionless brow!
Students sublime! Earth, man, unmov'd, ye view,
Time, circumstance; for what are they to you?
What is the crash of worlds, -- the fall of kings, --
When worlds and monarchs are such brittle things!
What the tost, shatter'd bark, that blindly dares
A sea of storm? Ye sketch the wave which bears!
The cause, and not th' effect, your thoughts exact;
The principle of action, not the act, --
The soul! the soul! and, 'midst so grand a task,
Ye call her rushing passions, and ye ask
Whence are ye? and each mystic thing responds!
I would be all ye are -- except those bonds!

Except those bonds! ev'n here is oft descried
The love to parts, the poverty of pride!
Ev'n here, while Mind, in Mind's horizon, springs,
Her 'native mud' is weighing on her wings!
Ev'n here, while Truth invites the ardent crowd,
Ixion-like, they rush t' embrace a cloud!
Ev'n here, oh! foul reproach to human wit!
A Hobbes hath reasoned, and Spinosa writ!

Rank pride does much! and yet we justly cry,
Our greatest errors in our weakness lie.
For thoughts uncloth'd by language are, at best,
Obscure; while grossness injures those exprest --
Through words, -- in whose analysis, we find
Th' analogies of Matter, not of Mind:
Hence, when the use of words is graceful brought,
As physical dress to metaphysic thought,
The thought, howe'er sublime its pristine state,
Is by th' expression made degenerate;
Its spiritual essence changed, or cramp'd; and hence
Some hold by words, who cannot hold by sense;
And leave the thought behind, and take th' attire --
Elijah's mantle -- but without his fire!
Yet spurn not words! 't is needful to confess
They give ideas, a body and a dress!
Behold them traverse Learning's region round,
The vehicles of thought on wheels of sound;
Mind's winged strength, wherewith the height is won,
Unless she trust their frailty to the sun.
Destroy the body! -- will the spirit stay?
Destroy the car! -- will Thought pursue her way?
Destroy the wings -- let Mind their aid forego!
Do no Icarian billows yawn below?
Ah! spurn not words with reckless insolence;
But still admit their influence with the sense,
And fear to slight their laws! Perchance we find
No perfect code transmitted to mankind;
And yet mankind, till life's dark sands are run,
Prefers imperfect government to none.
Thus Thought must bend to words! -- Some sphere of bliss,
Ere long, shall free her from th' alloy of this:
Some kindred home for Mind -- some holy place,
Where spirits look on spirits, 'face to face,' --
Where souls may see, as they themselves are seen,
And voiceless intercourse may pass between,
All pure -- all free! as light, which doth appear
In its own essence, incorrupt and clear!
One service, praise! one age, eternal youth!
One tongue, intelligence! one subject, truth!

Till then, no freedom, Learning's search affords,
Of soul from body, or of thought from words.
For thought may lose, in struggling to be hence,
The gravitating power of Common-sense;
Through all the depths of space with Phaeton hurl'd,
T' impair our reason, as he scorch'd our world.
Hence, this preceptive truth, my page affirms --
Respect the technicality of terms!
Yet not in base submission -- lest we find
That, aiding clay, we crouch too low for Mind;
Too apt conception's essence to forget,
And place all wisdom in the alphabet.

Still let appropriate phrase the sense invest;
That what is well conceived be well exprest!
Nor e'er the reader's wearied brain engage,
In hunting meaning down the mazy page,
With three long periods tortured into one,
The sentence ended, with the sense begun;
Nor in details, which schoolboys know by heart,
Perplex each turning with the terms of art.
To understand, we deem no common good;
And 't is less easy to be understood.
But let not clearness be your only praise,
When style may charm a thousand different ways;
In Plato glow, to life and glory wrought,
By high companionship with noblest thought;
In Bacon, warm abstraction with a breath,
Catch Poesy's bright beams, and smile beneath;
In St. John roll, a generous stream, along,
Correctly free, and regularly strong.
Nor scornful deem the effort out of place,
With taste to reason, and convince with grace;
But ponder wisely, ere you know, too late,
Contempt of trifles will not prove us great!
The Cynics, not their tubs, respect engage;
And dirty tunic never made a sage.
E'en Cato -- had he own'd the Senate's will,
And wash'd his toga -- had been Cato still.
Justly we censure -- yet are free to own,
That indecision is a crime unknown.
For, never faltering, seldom reasoning long,
And still most positive whene'er most wrong,
No theoretic sage is apt to fare
Like Mah'met's coffin -- hung in middle air!
No! fenc'd by Error's all-sufficient trust,
These stalk 'in nubibus' -- those crawl in dust.
From their proud height, the first demand to know,
If spiritual essence should descend more low?
The last, as vainly, from their dunghill, cry,
Can body's grossness hope t' aspire more high?
And while Reflection's empire, these disclose,
Sensation's sovereign right is told by those.
Lo! Berkeley proves an old hypothesis!
'Out on the senses!' (he was out of his!)
'All is idea! and nothing real springs
But God, and Reason' -- (not the right of kings?)
'Hold!' says Condillac with profound surprise --
'Why prate of Reason? we have ears and eyes!'

Condillac! while the dangerous periods fall
Upon thy page, to stamp sensation all;
While (coldly studious!) thine ingenious scroll
Endows the mimic statue with a soul
Compos'd of sense -- behold the generous hound --
His piercing eye, his ear awake to sound,
His scent, most delicate organ! and declare
What triumph hath the 'Art of thinking' there!
What Gall, or Spurzheim, on his front hath sought
The mystic bumps indicative of Thought?
Or why, if thought do there maintain her throne,
Will reasoning curs leave logic for a bone?

Mind is imprison'd in a lonesome tower:
Sensation is its window -- hence herb, flower,
Landscapes all sun, the rush of thousand springs,
Waft in sweet scents, fair sights, soft murmurings;
And in her joy, she gazeth -- yet ere long,
Reason awaketh in her, bold and strong,
And o'er the scene exerting secret laws,
First seeks th' efficient, then the final cause,
Abstracts from forms their hidden accidents,
And marks in outward substance, inward sense.

Our first perceptions formed -- we search, to find
The operations of the forming mind;
And turn within by Reason's certain route,
To view the shadows of the things without
Discern'd, retain'd, compar'd, combin'd, and brought
To mere abstraction, by abstracting Thought.

Hence to discern, retain, compare, connect,
We deem the faculties of Intellect;
The which, mus'd on, exert a new control,
And fresh ideas are open'd on the soul.

Sensation is a stream with dashing spray,
That shoots in idle speed its arrowy way;
When lo! the mill arrests its waters' course,
Turning to use their unproductive force:
The cunning wheels by foamy currents sped,
Reflection triumphs, -- and mankind is fed!

Since Pope hath shewn, and Learning still must shew,
'We cannot reason but from what we know,' --
Unfold the scroll of Thought; and turn to find
The undeceiving signature of Mind!
There, judge her nature by her nature's course,
And trace her actions upwards to their source.
So when the property of Mind we call
An essence, or a substance spiritual,
We name her thus, by marking how she clings
Less to the forms than essences of things;
For body clings to body -- objects seen
And substance sensible alone have been
Sensation's study; while reflective Mind,
Essence unseen in objects seen may find;
And, tracing whence her known impressions came,
Give single forms an universal name.

So, when particular sounds in concord rise,
Those sounds as melody, we generalize;
When pleasing shapes and colors blend, the soul
Abstracts th' idea of beauty from the whole,
Deducting thus, by Mind's enchanting spell,
The intellectual from the sensible.
Hence bold Longinus' splendid periods grew,
'Who was himself the great sublime he drew:'
Hence Burke, the poet-reasoner, learn'd to trace
His glowing style of energetic grace:
Hence thoughts, perchance, some favor'd bosoms move,
Which Price might own, and classic Knight approve!

Go! light a rushlight, ere the day is done,
And call its glimm'ring brighter than the sun!
Go! while the stars in midnight glory beam,
Prefer their cold reflection in the stream!
But be not that dull slave, who only looks
On Reason, 'through the spectacles of books!'
Rather by Truth determine what is true, --
And reasoning works, through Reason's medium, view;
For authors can't monopolize her light:
'T is your's to read, as well as their's to write.
To judge is your's! -- then why submissive call,
'The master said so?' -- 't is no rule at all!
Shall passive sufferance e'en to mind belong,
When right divine in man is human wrong?
Shall a high name a low idea enhance,
When all may fail, as some succeed -- by chance?
Shall fix'd chimeras unfix'd reason shock?
And if Locke err, must thousands err with Locke?
Men! claim your charter! spurn th' unjust control,
And shake the bondage from the free-born soul!
Go walk the porticoes! and teach your youth
All names are bubbles, but the name of Truth!
If fools, by chance, attend to Wisdom's rules,
'T is no dishonor to be right with fools,
If human faults to Plato's page belong,
Not ev'n with Plato, willingly go wrong.
But though the judging page declare it well
To love Truth better than the lips which tell;
Yet 't were an error, with injustice class'd,
T' adore the former, and neglect the last.

Oh! beats there, Heav'n! a heart of human frame,
Whose pulses throb not at some kindling name?
Some sound, which brings high musings in its track,
Or calls perchance the days of childhood back,
In its dear echo, -- when, without a sigh,
Swift hoop, and bounding ball, were first laid by,
To clasp in joy, from school-room tyrant, free,
The classic volume on the little knee,
And con sweet sounds of dearest minstrelsy,
or words of sterner lore; the young brow fraught
With a calm brightness which might mimic thought,
Leant on the boyish hand -- as, all the while,
A half-heav'd sigh, or aye th' unconscious smile
Would tell how, o'er that page, the soul was glowing,
In an internal transport, past the knowing!
How feelings, erst unfelt, did then appear,
Give forth a voice, and murmur, 'We are here!'
As lute-strings, which a strong hand plays upon;
Or Memnon's statue singing 'neath the sun.
Ah me! for such are pleasant memories --
And call the tears of fondness to our eyes
Reposing on this gone-by dream -- when thus,
One marbled book was all the world to us;
The gentlest bliss our innocent thoughts could find --
The happiest cradle of our infant mind!
And though such hours be past, we shall not less
Think on their joy with grateful tenderness;
And bless the page which bade our reason wake, --
And love the prophet, for his mission's sake.
But not alone doth Memory's smouldering flame
Reflect a radiance on a glorious name;
For there are names of pride; and they who bear
Have walked with Truth, and turn'd their footsteps where
We walk not -- their beholdings aye have been
O'er Mind's far countries which we have not seen --
Our thoughts are not their thoughts! -- and oft we dream
That light upon the awful brow doth gleam,
From that high converse; as when Moses trod
Towards the people, from the mount of God,
His lips were silent, but his face was bright,
And prostrate Israel trembled at the sight.

What tongue can syllable our Bacon's name,
Nor own a heart exulting in his fame?
Where prejudice' wild blasts were wont to blow;
And waves of ignorance roll'd dark below,
He raised his sail -- and left the coast behind, --
Sublime Columbus of the realms of Mind!
Dared folly's mists, opinion's treacherous sands,
And walk'd, with godlike step, th' untrodden lands!
But ah! our Muse of Britain, standing near,
Hath dimm'd my tablet with a pensive tear!
Thrice, the proud theme, her free-born voice essays, --
And thrice that voice is faltering in his praise --
Yea! till her eyes in silent triumph turn
To mark afar her Locke's sepulchral urn!
Oh urn! where students rapturous vigils keep,
Where sages envy, and where patriots weep!
Oh Name! that bids my glowing spirit wake --
To freemen's hearts endeared for Freedom's sake!
Oh soul! too bright in life's corrupting hour,
To rise by faction, or to crouch to power!
While radiant Genius lifts her heav'nward wing,
And human bosoms own the Mind I sing;
While British writers British thoughts record,
And England's press is fearless as her sword;
While, 'mid the seas which gird our favor'd isle,
She clasps her charter'd rights with conscious smile;
So long be thou her glory, and her guide,
Thy page her study, and thy name her pride!
Oh! ever thus, immortal Locke, belong,
First to my heart, as noblest in my song;
And since in thee, the muse enraptured find
A moral greatness, and creating mind,
Still may thine influence, which with honor'd light
Beams when I read, illume me as I write!
The page too guiltless, and the soul too free,
To call a frown from Truth, or blush from thee!
But where Philosophy would fear to soar,
Young Poesy's elastic steps explore!
Her fairy foot, her daring eye pursues
The light of faith -- nor trembles as she views!
Wont o'er the Psalmist's holy harp to hang,
And swell the sacred note when Milton sang;
Mingling reflection's chords with fancy's lays,
The tones of music with the voice of praise!

And while Philosophy, in spirit, free,
Reasons, believes, yet cannot plainly see,
Poetic Rapture, to her dazzled sight,
Portrays the shadows of the things of light;
Delighting o'er the unseen worlds to roam,
And waft the pictures of perfection home.
Thus Reason oft the aid of fancy seeks,
And strikes Pierian chords -- when Irving speaks!

Oh! silent be the withering tongue of those
Who call each page, bereft of measure, prose;
Who deem the Muse possest of such faint spells,
That like poor fools, she glories in her bells;
Who hear her voice alone in tinkling chime,
And find a line's whole magic in its rhyme;
Forgetting, if the gilded shrine be fair,
What purer spirit may inhabit there!
For Such, -- indignant at her questioned might,
Let Genius cease to charm -- and Scott to write!

Ungrateful Plato! o'er thy cradled rest,
The Muse hath hung, and all her love exprest;
Thy first imperfect accents fondly taught,
And warm'd thy visions with poetic thought!
Ungrateful Plato! should her deadliest foe
Be found within the breast she tended so?
Spoil'd of her laurels, should she weep to find
The best belov'd become the most unkind?
And was it well or generous, Brutus like,
To pierce the hand that gave the power to strike?

Sages, by reason, reason's powers direct;
Bards, through the heart, convince the intellect.
Philosophy majestic brings to view
Mind's perfect modes, and fair proportions too;
Enchanting Poesy bestows the while,
Upon its sculptured grace, her magic smile,
Bids the cold form, with living radiance glow,
And stamps existence on its marble brow!
For Poesy's whole essence, when defined,
Is elevation of the reasoning mind,
When inward sense from Fancy's page is taught,
And moral feeling ministers to Thought.
And hence, the natural passions all agree
In seeking Nature's language -- poetry.
When Hope, in soft perspective, from afar,
Sees lovely scenes more lovely than they are;
To deck the landscape, tiptoe Fancy brings
Her plastic shapes, and bright imaginings.
Or when man's breast by torturing pangs is stung,
If fearful silence cease t' enchain his tongue,
In metaphor, the feelings seek relief,
And all the soul grows eloquent with grief.

Poetic fire, like Vesta's, pure and bright,
Should draw from Nature's sun, its holy light.
With Nature, should the musing poet roam,
And steal instruction from her classic tome;
When 'neath her guidance, least inclin'd to err --
The ablest painter when he copies her.

Beloved Shakespeare! England's dearest fame!
Dead is the breast that swells not at thy name!
Whether thine Ariel skim the seas along,
Floating on wings etherial as his song --
Lear rave amid the tempest -- or Macbeth
Question the hags of hell on midnight heath --
Immortal Shakespeare! still, thy lips impart
The noblest comment on the human heart.
And as fair Eve, in Eden newly placed,
Gazed on her form, in limpid waters traced,
And stretch'd her gentle arms, with pleased surprise,
To meet the image of her own bright eyes --
So Nature, on thy magic page, surveys
Her sportive graces, and untutored ways!
Wondering, the soft reflection doth she see,
Then laughing owns she loves herself in thee!

Shun not the haunts of crowded cities then;
Nor e'er, as man, forget to study men!
What though the tumult of the town intrude
On the deep silence, and the lofty mood;
'T will make thy human sympathies rejoice,
To hear the music of a human voice --
To watch strange brows by various reason wrought,
To claim the interchange of thought with thought;
T' associate mind with mind, for Mind's own weal,
As steel is ever sharpen'd best by steel.
T' impassion'd bards, the scenic world is dear, --
But Nature's glorious masterpiece is here!
All poetry is beauty, but exprest
In inward essence, not in outward vest.
Hence lovely scenes, reflective poets find,
Awake their lovelier images in Mind:
Nor doth the pictur'd earth, the bard invite,
The lake of azure, or the heav'n of light,
But that his swelling breast arouses there,
Something less visible, and much more fair!
There is a music in the landscape round, --
A silent voice, that speaks without a sound --
A witching spirit, that reposing near,
Breathes to the heart, but comes not to the ear!
These softly steal, his kindling soul t' embrace,
And natural beauty, gild with moral grace.
Think not, when summer breezes tell their tale,
The poet's thoughts are with the summer gale;
Think not his Fancy builds her elfin dream
On painted floweret, or on sighing stream:
No single objects cause his raptured starts,
For Mind is narrow'd, not inspir'd by parts;
But o'er the scene the poet's spirit broods,
To warm the thoughts that form his noblest moods;
Peopling his solitude with faery play,
And beckoning shapes that whisper him away, --
While lilied fields, and hedge-row blossoms white,
And hills, and glittering streams, are full in sight --
The forests wave, the joyous sun beguiles,
And all the poetry of Nature smiles!

Such poetry is formed by Mind, and not
By scenic grace of one peculiar spot.
The artist lingers in the moon-lit glade.
And light and shade, with him, are -- light and shade.
The philosophic chymist wandering there,
Dreams of the soil, and nature of the air.
The rustic marks the young herbs' fresh'ning hue,
And only thinks -- his scythe may soon pass through!
None 'muse on nature with a Poet's eye,'
None read, but Poets, Nature's poetry!
Its characters are trac'd in mystic hand,
And all may gaze, but few can understand.

Nor here alone the Poet's dwelling rear,
Though Beauty's voice perchance is sweetest here!
Bind not his footsteps to the sylvan scene,
To heathy banks, fair woods, and valleys green,
When Mind is all his own! her dear impress
Shall throw a magic o'er the wilderness,
As o'er the blossoming vale, and aye recall
Its shadowy plane, and silvery waterfall,
Or sleepy crystal pool, reposing by,
To give the earth a picture of the sky!
Such, gazed on by the spirit, are, I ween,
Lovelier than ever prototype was seen;
For Fancy teacheth Memory's hand to trace
Nature's ideal form in Nature's place.

In every theme by lofty Poet sung,
The thought should seem to speak, and not the tongue.
when godlike Milton lifts th' exalted song,
The subject bears the burning words along --
Resounds the march of Thought, th' o'erflowing line,
Full cadence, solemn pause, and strength divine!
When Horace chats his neighbor's faults away,
The sportive measures, like his muse, are gay;
For once Good-humor Satire's by-way took,
And all his soul is laughing in his book!
On moral Pope's didactic page is found,
Sound rul'd by sense, and sense made clear by sound;
The power to reason, and the taste to please,
While, as the subject varies in degrees,
He stoops with dignity, and soars with ease.

Hence let our Poets, with discerning glance,
Forbear to imitate the stage of France.
What though Corneille arouse the thrilling chords,
And walk with Genius o'er th' inspired boards;
What though his rival bring, with calmer grace,
The classic unities of time and place, --
All polish, and all eloquence -- 't were mean
To leave the path of Nature for Racine;
When Nero's parent, 'midst her woe, defines
The wrong that tortures -- in two hundred lines:
Or when Orestes, madden'd by his crime,
Forgets life, joy, and every thing -- but rhyme.

While thus to character and nature, true,
Still keep the harmony of verse in view;
Yet not in changeless concord, -- it should be
Though graceful, nervous, -- musical, though free;
Not clogg'd by useless drapery, not beset
By the superfluous word, or epithet,
Wherein Conception only dies in state,
As Draco, smother'd by the garments' weight --
But join, Amphion-like, (whose magic fire
Won the deep music of the Maian lyre,
To call Boeotia's city from the ground,)
The just in structure, with the sweet in sound.

Nor this the whole -- the poet's classic strain
May flow in smoothest numbers, yet in vain;
And Taste may please, and Fancy sport awhile,
And yet Aonia's muse refuse to smile!
For lo! her heavenly lips these words reveal --
'The sage may coldly think, the bard must feel!
And if his writings, to his heart untrue,
Would ape the fervent throb it never knew;
If generous deeds, and Virtue's noblest part,
And Freedom's voice, could never warm that heart;
If Interest tax'd the produce of the brain,
And fetter'd Genius follow'd in her train,
Weeping as each unwilling word she spoke, --
Then hush the lute -- its master string is broke!
In vain, the skilful hand may linger o'er --
Concord is dead, and music speaks no more!'

There are, and have been such -- they were forgot
If shame could veil their page, if tears could blot!
There are, and have been, whose dishonor'd lay
Aspired t' enrapture that the world might -- pay!
Whose life was one long bribe, oft counted o'er, --
Brib'd to think on, and brib'd to think no more;
Brib'd to laugh, weep, nor ask the reason why;
Brib'd to tell truth, and brib'd to gild a lie!
Oh Man! for this, the sensual left behind,
We boast our empire o'er the vast of Mind?
Oh Mind! reported valueless, till sold,
Thought dross till metamorphos'd into gold
By Midas' touch -- breath'st thou immortal verse
To throw a ducat in an empty purse --
To walk the market at a belman's cry,
For knaves to sell, and wond'ring fools to buy?
Can Heav'n-born bards, undone by lucre's lust,
Crouch thus, like Heav'n-born ministers, to dust?
Alas! to dust indeed -- yet wherefore blame?
They keep their profits, though they lose their fame.

Leave to the dross they seek, the grovelling throng,
And swell with nobler aim th' Aonian song!
Enough for thee uninfluenc'd and unhir'd,
If Truth reward the strain herself inspir'd!
Enough for thee, if grateful Man commend,
If Genius love, and Virtue call thee friend!
Enough for thee, to wake th' exalted mood,
Reprove the erring, and confirm the good;
Excite the tender smile, the generous tear,
Or rouse the thought to loftiest Nature dear,
Which rapturous greets amidst the fervent line
Thy name, O Freedom! glorious Hellas, thine!

I love my own dear land -- it doth rejoice
The soul, to stretch my arms, and lift my voice,
To tell her of my love! I love her green
And bowery woods, her hills in mossy sheen,
Her silver running waters -- there's no spot
In all her dwelling, which my breast loves not --
No place not heart-enchanted! Sunnier skies,
And calmer waves, may meet another's eyes;
I love the sullen mist, the stormy sea,
The winds of rushing strength which, like the land, are free!
Such is my love -- yet turning thus to thee,
Oh Graecia! I must hail with hardly less
Of joy, and pride, and deepening tenderness,
And feelings wild, I know not to control,
My other country -- country of my soul!
For so, to me, thou art! my lips have sung
Of thee with childhood's lisp, and harp unstrung!
In thee, my Fancy's pleasant walks have been,
Telling her tales, while Memory wept between!
And now for thee I joy, with heart beguiled,
As if a dying friend looked up, and smiled.

Lo! o'er AEgaea's waves, the shout hath ris'n!
Lo! Hope hath burst the fetters of her prison!
And Glory sounds the trump along the shore,
And Freedom walks where Freedom walk'd before!
Ipsara glimmers with heroic light,
Redd'ning the waves that lash her flaming height;
And AEgypt hurries from that dark blue sea!
Lo! o'er the cliffs of fam'd Thermopylae,
And voiceful Marathon, the wild winds sweep,
Bearing this message to the brave who sleep --
'They come! they come! with their embattled shock,
From Pelion's steep, and Paros' foam-dash'd rock!
They come from Tempe's vale, and Helicon's spring,
And proud Eurotas' banks, the river king!
They come from Leuctra, from the waves that kiss
Athena -- from the shores of Salamis;
From Sparta, Thebes, Euboea's hills of blue --
To live with Hellas -- or to sleep with you!'

Smile -- smile, beloved land! and though no lay
From Doric pipe, may charm thy glades today --
Though dear Ionic music murmur not
Adown the vale -- its echo all forgot!
Yet smile, beloved land! for soon, around,
Thy silent earth shall utter forth a sound,
As whilom -- and, its pleasant groves among,
The Grecian voice shall breathe the Grecian song,
While the exiled muse shall 'habit still
The happy haunts of her Parnassian hill.
Till then, behold the cold dumb sepulchre --
The ruin'd column -- ocean, earth, and air,
Man, and his wrongs -- thou hast Tyrtaeus there!
And pardon, if across the heaving main,
Sound the far melody of minstrel strain,
In wild and fitful gust from England's shore,
For his immortal sake, who never more
Shall tread with living foot, and spirit free,
Her fields, or breathe her passionate poetry --
The pilgrim bard, who lived, and died for thee,
Oh land of Memory! loving thee no less
Than parent -- with the filial tenderness,
And holy ardor of the Argive son,
Straining each nerve to bear thy chariot on --
Till when its wheels the place of glory swept,
He laid him down before the shrine -- and slept.

So be it! at his cold unconscious bier,
We fondly sate, and dropp'd the natural tear --
Yet wept not wisely, for he sank to rest
On the dear earth his waking thoughts loved best,
And gently life's last pulses stole away!
No Moschus sang a requiem o'er his clay,
But Greece was sad! and breathed above, below,
The warrior's sigh, the silence, and the woe!

And is this all? Is this the little sum
For which we toil -- to which our glories come?
Doth History bend her mouldering pages o'er,
And Science stretch her bulwark from the shore,
And Sages search the mystic paths of Thought,
And Poets charm with lays that Genius taught --
For this? to labor through their little day,
To weep an hour, then want the tear they pay --
To ask the urn, their death and life to tell,
When the dull dust would give that tale as well!

Man! hast thou seen the gallant vessel sweep,
Borrowing her moonlight from the jealous deep,
And gliding with mute foot, and silver wing,
Over the waters like a soul-mov'd thing?
Man, hast thou gazed on this -- then look'd again,
And seen no speck on all that desolate main,
And heard no sound, -- except the gurgling cry,
The winds half stifled in their mockery?

Woe unto thee! for, thus, thy course is run,
And, in the fulness of thy noon-day sun,
The darkness cometh -- yea! thou walk'st abroad
In glory, Child of Mind, Creation's Lord --
And wisdom's music from thy lips hath gush'd!
Then comes the Selah! and the voice is hush'd,
And the light past! we seek where thou hast been
In beauty -- but thy beauty is not seen!
We breathe the air thou breath'dst, we tread the spot
Thy feet were wont to tread, but find thee not!
Beyond, sits Darkness with her haggard face,
Brooding fiend-like above thy burying-place --
Beneath, let wildest Fancy take her fill!
Shall we seek on? we shudder and are still!
Yet woe not unto thee, thou child of Earth!
Though moonlight sleep on thy deserted hearth,
We will not cry 'Alas!' above thy clay!
It was, perchance, thy joyous pride to stray
On Mind's lone shore, and linger by the way:
But now thy pilgrim's staff is laid aside,
And on thou journeyest o'er the sullen tide,
To bless thy wearied sight, and glad thine heart
With all that Mind's serener skies impart;
Where Wisdom suns the day no shades destroy,
And Learning ends in Truth, as hope in joy:
While we stand mournful on the desert beach,
And wait, and wish, thy distant bark, to reach,
And weep to watch it passing from our sight,
And sound the gun's salute, and sigh our last 'good night!'

And oh! while thus the spirit glides away, --
Give to the world its memory with its clay!
Some page our country's grateful eyes may scan;
Some useful truth to bless surviving man;
Some name to honest bosoms justly dear;
Some grave t' exalt the thought, and claim the tear;
So when the pilgrim Sun is travelling o'er
The last blue hill, to gild a distant shore,
He leaves a freshness in the evening scene,
That tells Creation where his steps have been!






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