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There might the floating eagle's self feel fear!
But, look again, and with a steadied gaze;
And lo! the dangerous is the beautiful,
The beautiful indeed the true sublime.
What an abyss of glorious poetry!
All that seem'd mist and vapour like a shroud
In the dim dawning and the clearing morn,
In daylight is pure air. No—'tis not air,
Transparent though it be, and glimmering too
As gossamer by heat spun out of light,
A fine web yielding to the insect's wing;
The solid earth was ne'er so shadowy-
It is—it is—the liquid element
An arm of the great Sea !
A Highland Loch!
Loch-Sunart! who, when tides and tempests roar,
Comes in among these mountains from the main,
"Twixt wooded Ardnamurchan's rocky cape
And Ardmore's shingly beach of hissing spray;
And while his thunders bid the Sound of Mull
Be dumb, sweeps onwards past a hundred bays
Hill-sheltered from the wrath that foams along
The mad mid-channel,-all as quiet they
As little separate worlds of summer dreams,-
And by storm-loving birds attended up
The mountain-hollow, wbite in their career
As are the breaking billows, spurns the Isles
Of craggy Carnich, and green Oronsay
Drench'd in that sea-born shower o'er tree-tops driven,
And ivyed stones of what was once a tower
Now hardly known from rocks-and gathering might
In the long reach between Dungallan caves
And Point of Arderinis ever fair
With her Elysian groves, bursts through that strait
Into another ampler inland sea ;
Till lo! subdued by some sweet influence,-
And potent is she though so meek the Eve,-
Down sinketh wearied the Old Ocean
Insensibly into a solemn calm,-
And all along that ancient burial-ground,
(Its kirk is gone,) that seemeth now to lend
Its own eternal quiet to the waves,
Restless no more, into a perfect peace
Lulling and lull’d at last, while drop the airs
Away as they were dead, the first risen Star
Beholds that lovely Archipelago,
All shadow'd there as in a spiritual world,
Where time's mutations shall come nevermore!
In Prime of Day such now Loch-Sunart's sleep.
The Loch is there, but where the water-line
Is lying, that mysterious multitude
Of images in their confusion rich
Beyond the domes of sleep, pile below pile
Descending and descending, disarray
Fantastic were not the whole pomp sublime,
Conceals from sight, so that the beauty seems
All of one element, nor Wonder finds
An end of wondering, nor Love end of love,
Gazing together down the abyss divine.
Though none on earth, there is a breath in heaven, That airy architecture all at once
Changes from palaces to ships; a fleet
With all sails set is waiting for the wind,
A fair wind to the isles of Paradise,
Bound thither for a freight of golden joys,
On hope's first voyage o'er the untried deep.
That fleet hangs still—but, lo! yon single ship
This moment hath slipp'd anchor, and with flags,
Like flying serpents that devour the air,
Brightening the blue above her snow-white wings,
As a condor suddenly took flight
Boldly she beareth from the bay, her prow
Enamour'd of the orient, far away,
Out of sight almost, ere you think farewell,
And now sunk in the sun.
A dream! a dream !
Our waking is like sleep, our sleep like waking, One undivided undisturb'd delight. So let us visionaries on the plumes Of our strong dream descend, and as we sink In such sweet fear as only serves to give A stronger power to fancy, admire the flowers Rock-loving Spring doth sprinkle o'er the sides Of the black precipice all the fathoms down That vast abyss, profusely sowing them In constellations round the merlin's nest. The spirit knows no gross impediments In dreams; but like a thing aerial She sinks, and soars, and glides, and floats away Delighted, her delight none witnessing, O'er heaven and earth; nor doth she fear the depths Of the old sunless sea, but visiteth The kingdoms of the coral, whose groves need Nor sun, nor moon, nor stars, nor any light, Alien to their own meteorous waves, By night as clear as day; where under roofs Of purple and of crimson, shining warm Above the gentle yellow of the sands, To Tritons trumpeting on wreathed shells Their limb-electrifying melodies
green-hair'd Nereids dance, and dancing sing Songs heard by seamen on their midnight watch, Who fondly dream it is the Mermaid's voice Hymning their gallant ship, till fancy sees The lovely creature sitting on a cape, Just then a league-long line of moonshine streaming All o'er some palmy išle, that, as a cloud Eclipses the great planet, silently Unnamed for ever sinks into the main.
Alighting on this small green circular mound In this copse-wood, beside the broken roof Of this deserted shieling, where of old Some goatherd used to live, let us collect Our scatter'd dreams, like rays, and pour them all Into one splendour on Loch-Unimore! And bath Loch-Sunart melted into air, With all his capes and isles ? No! in the sun
He lies beyond that mountain, many a league
Stretch'd far and wide in his magnificence;
But arms innumerous the sea-giant hath,
And each, in course of ages, for itself,
Has scooped a glen out of the living rocks,
By waves with tempests working and with tides,
And mountain-torrents, and one river large,
Preparing regions for the abode of calms ;
And beauty no where owes to ocean
A lovelier haunt than this ! Loch-Unimore!
A name in its wild sweetness to our ear
Fitly denoting a dream-world of peace !
A visionary Semblance of a Boat,
Its sails expanding on the sunshine! Lo!
A Boat it is-a Pinnace beautiful
As that in which of old Parthenopex
Sail'd to enjoy the Queen of Fairy Land.
There is a bright confusion of two boats
Hulls, masts, and sails and rigging ; but a breeze
Comes rustling from the woods, and creeping blue
O'er the faint-agitated waters, now
There is but one, and she her wings doth shiver,
Impatient as a swan to stem the loch,
Away up to the far head of the glen.
Call her the NAIAD, for upon
prow You see some cunning carver has contrived, With the dark cedar of her polish'd deck Quaint contrast, ivory Image of a Nymph Bare to the waist, and veild her lightsome limbs With sedges green, and water-lilies fair, The large white leaves with delicate yellow tinged; When bends the windward-beating bowsprit, plunged In freshen'd beauty, like a living thing, The lustrous Creature in the foam she loves.
Built was that Bark in some far foreign land;
So tells her fine and fairy workmanship,
And latine sails high-hoisted elegant;
Oft graceful gliding on her voyages
Of pleasure, music playing all the while,
New her light tackling, o'er the tideless sea
Mediterranean, that beholds with pride
A thousand cities glittering on her breast
By sunny calms beloved, and gentle gales,
In the perpetual absence of alì storms.
Such child of sunny seas the Naiad seems,
By some mysterious wafting hither borne
Into a Highland Loch of Caledon,
Without or crew or pilot, all unstain'd
By winds or waves the silver purity
Of her tall sails ; no speck upon the glow
That runs along her sides in streaks of gold.
A stately figure on the beach, with plumes
High-nodding, and in garb majestical,
Such as a Chief upon the mountain wears,
When on commemorative festival
For some great battle fought and won, he moves
To many-echoed martial minstrelsy,
At head of his own Clan. Lightly on board,
Like one of the bold children of the deep,
Leaping, he for a moment eyes the sails
Cut with a master's skill, and raking masts,
With a proud smile; and then with mellow cheers
Uplifts the clouds, and over them lets loose
The meteors, just as tide-borne singing up
Comes the fresh sea-breeze with a flight of gulls;
And all at once escaping from the calm
Of which the NAIAD was impatient,
With smooth glide first, and then with many a bound
Capricious, the gay Creature in her pride,
Along the woods flies right before the wind,
Steadying her motion to the beautiful,
On joyful Voyage of Discovery
Up that cliff-strait well to her Pilot known,
Who at the helm is sitting in a dream
Of infancy and boyhood, these sweet waves
Beyond all other waves that ever flow'd
By him beloved his own Loch-Unimore.
Whence comes he ? From the shadow of what isle,
Or city of the sea ? For heretofore
That wild Bark never with these mountain winds
Dallied, nor in that sunshine stream'd aloft
Her bright emblazonry, with stars and moons
And crescents deck'd, and many symbols strange
Wrought in the changeful silk, whose colours fine
Their radiance shift to faintest shadows, wrought
Perchance by lovely lady's hands; for he
Who at the helm sits, is most beautiful
Of mortal men. So felt that Island-Queen,
Now pining many thousand leagues away,
For his ship unreturning, when she saw
Bearing majestic the Green Bough of Peace
That Form advance before his warriors,
And lay it at her feet; while all at once
From wonder love came thrilling; and to charm
The Prince of that Winged Palace, the Isle-Queen
Did lead herself the choral dances on,
In many a maze the graceful multitude
Swimming along below the torch-like stars,
And moon, in those climes a mild globe of fire ;
Forgetful the Sea-Rover in the light
Of those voluptuous eyes, of all life else;
Nor ever came across the palm-tree-shade
Brightend with bliss, one solitary thought
Of a pale face by far Loch-Unimore!
On his own Loch once more the Chieftain sails;
And shifting oft her courses, (for one hour
In that great hollow, many-glen'd, the wind
Blows never from the same point steadily,)
The Naiad in the fiercening foam her prow
Buries, and deeply gunwale in, careers
In the blast's eye, contemptuous of the squall
That black as night and quick as lightning
Makes the spray spin above her fearless flags
That, as stoops unto the hurricane,
One moment brush the billows, and the next
High up in air are streamering the sky.
That powerful helmsman holds the winds in fee ;
They are his slaves, and in their howling rage
The Naiad in her beauty bear along,
Now on her starboard tack most beautiful
Scorning the shelter of the cliffs, and bright
As flying sunshine cross the loch that lies
Pitch-black, the very foam-wreaths sullenly
Expiring in the gloom that shrouds the waves.
In wonder on the gliding Glory gaze
Shepherd and huntsman on the hills—the eagle,
Poised miles-high mid the clouds, the Naiad sees,
And rifle by the plumed helmsman's side;
While upward turns the Chieftain his proud eye
In search of the Bird-royal, as a scream
Directs it to a speck within the sun.
The spirit of the region fills with pride
The Chieftain's heart; for are they not his own,
Those dim blue glens, those shadowy mountains, all
Those radiant ranges of sun-smitten cliffs ;
That meadow'd plain as green as emerald,
With its wide river, of the cataracts
Forgetful now, calm flowing to the loch,
The loch, or call it what it is, the sea;
And lo! outstanding from that silvan height,
He hails the Castle of his ancestors,
And all its hoary towers.
The Naiad glides 'Twixt two huge rocks, time immemorial call'd The Giants ; idle all at once her sails Hang in the airlessness; around her masts Drop down the twining flags; her bowsprit sheds Asunder the soft branches on the bank Of that deep bay, an amphitheatre Of loveliest groves; already is she moor’d To an old ivied stump, well-known of old; But up to his own Castle of the Cliff Why fly not the wing’d feet of Unimore? It was but now he did affront the light With forehead fierce in its ancestral pride Beneath a Chieftain's plumes. But all at once, Like deer by far-off hound-yell terrified, He bursts into the wood. Sun-proof the Den, All matted thick with briery tanglement Like Indian Jungle where the Tiger growls, That now doth harbour Morven's Mountain-Lord; Sea-rover call him-Pirate-Bucaneir. To bathe the burning forehead of remorse In the chill water of some sunless fount, Seeks he that savage penitentiary?
MERIDIAN reigns o'er heaven, and earth, and sea;
With a glad voice the streamy valleys sing
Their songs unto the mountains, and the crags
Fling down their joy into the dells profound;
The croaking raven happy up aloft
As on its broomy knoll the bleating lamb.
In their own world of breezy solitude
Float in fair flocks the gentle clouds along,
In changeful beauty of soft-shaded snow