Page images

Curling in silv'ry eddies: there the pine

Stretches his giant limbs, scorch'd by the fires

Of Heav'n, and stands to guard yon narrow pass,

An aged warrior, cover'd o'er with wounds. 22 5

More distant the brown woods around me rise,

Range over range, a sylvan theatre,

Their tops illumin'd by a flood of light,

The rest deep sunk in shade; whilst far above

The broad bare peaks shoot boldly to the clouds, 230

Flinging from their bleak bosoms the last hues

Of day; yellow and purple melting soft

Into the russet tints that sleep below.

Within the windings of yon wood, which glides With easy curve along the mountain's side, 235 The Muses dwelt; a grotto canopied With clust'ring ivy and luxuriant vines, And cool'd by sacred waters dropping through The arched roof, receiv'd them: there they laid Their graceful limbs, and, whilst th' ascending sun 240 Fir'd the whole firmament, at ease reclin'd, And tun'd their harps, and wove the myrtle wreath For their dark hair, or in their slumbers view'd

Ecstatic visions: so the noon-tide pass'd ;—

But when pale ev'ning from the western hills 245

Let fall her purple mantle, throwing wide

Its shadowy folds o'er tree, and rock, and vale,

Then forth the Sisters wander'd; each to scenes,

Or sad or cheerful, which their fancy lov'd.

Daughter of mirth and joy, Thalia spread 250

To every breeze her flow'r-embroider'd vest,

And, lightly bounding o'er the dewy herb,

With half-reverted eyes, and snowy arms,

Floating upon the air, led the glad choir

Of nymphs and swains to the soft oaten pipe, 25 5

Breathing its measur'd cadencies; but thou,

Melpomene, apart from all retir'd,

Thy ringlets bound with the green 6edge, thy robe

Compos'd in simple folds around thy limbs,

Sat'st musing on the solitary height 260

Of some gray cliff, thy brow knit into thought,

Thy dark eyes rais'd to Heav'n, save when they turn/d

To view the tempest gath'ring its brown wreaths

Of vapour, or the torrent rolling far

The tide of ruin o'er the vale below. 265

What, though no more, celestial Maids, as erst, Reveal'd to mortal eye, ye guard the path Of the lone trav'ller though no more he stays His footsteps to behold your airy forms Sinking into the clouds of liquid light 270 Which float round ev'ning's breast; yet still he hears Your voices mingling with the mountain stream; And as the breeze sweeps the close myrtle copse, Or rushes through the cavern's vaulted side, It wafts the echoes of your harps, and charms 27 5

His list'ning ear with the wild melody.

Here let me rest upon the highest brow—
The toil is past: and all this mighty mound,
This awful barrier, whence Nature looks
In silent grandeur o'er the prostrate world, 280
Lies at my feet; rapid as thought the eye
Expatiates round the vast circumference,
And o'er the varied landscape glancing roams
Delighted, resting, in its flight, on hill,
Valley, and rock, and riv'let's devious course 28 5

Now seen, now lost, and forest, with dark zone
Circling the mountain's breast. This is a scene

Form'd to exalt the mind to serious joys,

And solemn meditation: Nature here

Wears not a smile upon her lips to lure 290

Pleasure's soft vot'ries, they would scorn her chaste,

Her mild enjoyments; they, in fragrant groves,

And flow'ry meads, and shady bow'rs, may hold

Their frantic orgies; but she calls the sons

Of Virtue, those whose spirits soar beyond 529 5

The narrow prison of their earthly frame,

To scenes more glorious; those whose souls are sooth'd

With more than human visions, them she leads

Amidst her solitudes, till all their thoughts,

Refin'd by contemplation of her works, 300

Become, like her, pure, simple, and sublime.

Here are thy haunts, Peneus; on this rock Thou lay'st thy giant limbs, and to the fall Of thine own fountain slumb'rest; round thee wait Thy ministers, the Naiads, plac'd to guard 305 Thy crystal treasures; these from thy retreat Repel each noxious reptile; those across Thy waters spread a verdant canopy . Of vines and myrtles, to preserve its source

Cool and serene, or, from the limpid depths 310

Breathing their murmurs, with the gurgling notes

Cheer the faint traveller; whilst others guide

The melting snows, and teach them to preserve

Their devious way along the sunny rill,

Or headlong torrent, till they meet thy tide, 315

Bright and unsullied, in the plains below.

How bold and how triumphant is thy course,

Monarch of Grecian streams, when from the gloom

Of cliffs emerging, and the dark defiles

Of Pindus, deep thou rollest on thy wave, 320

Swell'd with the storms of winter, and the might

O f tributary rivers, sweeping down

Each mound and bank, weak barriers of thy pow'r,

And o'er Thessalia's plains expanding wide,

Like avast ocean; and how beautiful, 325

When gently murm'ring o'er thy pebbly bed,

Thou spreadest thy broad surface to the rays

Of morning, bearing on thy tranquil breast

Each scene which, in thy long and varied way,

Delights thee: now the rugged heights on which 330

Pale Superstition rais'd the convent's cell

« PreviousContinue »