Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A PICTURE, by JAMES GATES PERCIVAL



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A PICTURE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There is a fountain of the purest wave
Last Line: Boats, like a sleeping naiad, on the wave.
Subject(s): Fountains


THERE is a fountain of the purest wave --
It ever floweth full and freshly on,
Laughing beneath the fairest light of heaven,
And chiming, like the tender voice of birds,
Within a dewy thicket, when the morn
Comes forth in beauty, and the winds awake
To sip the moisture in the lily's bell.

The spring is hidden in a silent cave,
The shrine of darkness, and of loneliness,
And then it stealeth out to meet the sun,
And shine beneath his brightness, and reveal
The crystal of its purity, and play,
In dove-like undulations, with the airs
That gently come and kiss it, with a breath
Perfumed among the roses, till they lend
A sweetness to the waters, like the rills
That spout from marble wells in Asian bowers.

And where it cometh forth to meet the light,
The rock is tapestried in mossy green,
For ever freshening with the sprinkled dews,
And always young in verdure, as when Spring
Throws her new mantle o'er the turf, until
The eye reposes on it, as a balm,
That, with its tender soothings, wins the heart
To thoughts of purity and gentleness;
For there is in the sight of fairy forms,
And mellow tinctures, and dissolving shades,
And in the sound of rustling leaves, and waves,
That murmur into slumber, and of birds
Saluting, with their cheery notes, the dawn,
And pouring out the loneliness of heart,
A rifled mother feels, when o'er her nest
She sits, and sees her young ones stolen away --
And in the scent of gardens, and young vines,
And violet beds along the meadow brooks,
There is a sweet attraction, which doth blend
The spirit with the life of outward things,
And it partaketh then in all the joy
Of Nature, when she riseth from her sleep,
And throweth out her vigor to the winds,
And boundeth in her ecstasy, as fawns
Leap in the very wantonness of heart,
When life is all exuberance and fire.

It floweth on embanked in freshest turf,
Bending its margin low to meet the clear,
Cool element, and slake its thirst therein,
And bathe its roots, like silken threads, that play
Waving and streaming with the current's fall.
Its flow is over pebbles and bright sands,
Which, from the curling waters flashing out,
Inlay the channel with mosaic, where
The white flint shines like pearl, the agate glows
With playful tints, dove-like or pavonine,
Catching new splendour from the wave; the while
Smooth-rounded stones, deep blue and ebony,
And slaty flakes of red and russet-brown,
Lie darker in their brightness, as when gems
Sparkle from out the chilly night of caves.

Above it elms and poplars -- trees that love
The bank of meadow brooks: those with their limbs
Light-arching in a platted canopy;
These rising in a pyramid of boughs,
And glancing with their many twinkling leaves,
Bright in their varnished verdure, when they drink
The pure light in their stillness; when at play,
Checkered with freshest green and snowy down.
Beside them willows droop to kiss the wave,
That calmly crinkles by them, and they dip
Their waving twigs, so that their silken leaves
Ruffle the water to a circling curl,
Widening and lessening to the turfy shore.
From out its bosom islets lift their tufts
Of alder and of sedges, where the wind
Plays through the pointed blades, and murmuring lulls
The dreamer, who reposes on the brink,
And gazes on the ever-changing play
Of bubble and of ripple, of light plumes
Moving like pigmy vessels, as the breath
Or summer fills their fan-like sail, and throws
A sudden dimple o'er the mirror'd stream.
Flowers too are on its borders; flags in blue
Carpet the hollow, roses on the knoll
Open their clustered crimson, cardinals
Lift, on the shady margin, spikes of fire,
And one, [*] whose feathered stem, and starry bloom
Of glossy yellow, wafted in the flow,
Boats, like a sleeping Naiad, on the wave.





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