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TO FANNY B., AGED THREE YEARS.
Even so this happy creature of herself
Is all sufficient; solitude to her
Is blithe society,
pretty as the bud
Of the strawberry in the wood;
As restless as the fawn that 's there,
Playing like a thing of air,-
Chasing the wind, if there be any,-
Like these thou art, my little Fanny!
I look on thee, and in thy face,
The life is there of childish grace :
I see the silent thought that breaks
Into young smiles, as fancy wakes;
And newly-winged intelligence,
Trying its little flights from thence ;
I see a strife 'twixt health and beauty,
Which shall the best achieve its duty;
A gentle strife, for both contend,
But both, like bees, their labours blend.
Thy cheek by health is rounded well,
By its hand invisible;
But sweet and rosy hues there are,
And you may trace young beauty there.
Health made thy gentle lips to be
So glad in their own company;
So lavish of the cherry's dies,
So like the leaf when autumn flies :-
But beauty claims thy young blue eyes,
And oh, thy little light, soft hair,
Parted on thy forehead fair,
Doth seem to take its own delight
In leaning smooth and looking bright.
Thy figure small, and tiny feet,
Dotting the carpet round us, greet
Our hearts with joy, and feed the sense Of love for utter innocence.
These beauties, Fanny, are to thee,
As yet, unknown society ;-
And so, they ’re a befitting dress
For thy mental prettiness ;-
For thy simple thoughts, that seem
Fragments of a summer dream ;-
For thy merry lips first sayings,
For thy fancy's fairy strayings:
Thou art wiser far than many
That in years are richer, Fanny!
The best of wisdom dwells with thee,
In thy white simplicity,–
In thy young imaginings,
Which float about on spotless wings;
In thy prattlings, kindly meant,
And in thy beautiful content.
Thine is the bloom of life, and we
Are jarrers in society, -
Opposers of each other's good,
Despoilers of all neighbourhood;
Prone to pain, and serious folly,
And framers of self melancholy.
Thou dost wander light and free,
In thine own heart's company ;
Making mirth wherever chance
May lead thee in thy mazy dance;
Like the linnet wild, that weaves
Glad liberty amid the leaves:
Little copyer of the lives
Of thy playmate relatives,
Mocker of the elder ones,-
How thy wayward fancy runs,
By light from thine own laughing eyes,
Its circle of sweet mimicries.
Oft in thy little face, I find
The flitting shadows of the mind
Pass and repass, as thou dost tease
That mind with infant sophistries :-
And then, when no conclusion 's near,
Thou, like a true philosopher,
Dost seek the joyous heart again,
And leave at rest the little brain.
Fare thee well, I've found in thee
Blithe and sweet society;
Merriment in drooping pain ;
Pictures given back again,
Of the pranks of childishness,
Ere I tasted of distress.
Fare thee well! may youth be slow
from thee, who wear'st it so;
For years are but the links of care,
To one so innocent and fair.
Around thee joy, within thee truth,
Thou ’rt worthy of perpetual youth ;-
Worthy of that delight which lies
Within thy blue and pleasant eyes ;
Worthy thy mother's fond caressing :-
I owe thee, Fanny, many a blessing,
For pranks of kindliness and glee,
And words of childish charity;
For pleasures generous, light, and many,
And therefore do I bless thee, Fanny !
An utter wilderness of heaven and earth!
Above--no dreamlike isles Elysian,
In rest or motion on a blue abyss
Of boundless beauty, felt to be profound
As the pure silence of the ancient skies!
No solitary cloud-ship sailing by,
All by herself, with her unmurmuring prow,
Through tideless ether, ever and anon
Brought brightlier out in all her bravery,
By sudden splendours streaming from the sun,
Enamoured of the pageant from afar !
Nor yet innumerous fleet aerial,
Varying its shape to every breath that blows,
Unheard in that high clime by mortal ears,
From wedge to crescent, voyaging the light,
Like creatures in their native element
Banded for pastime in meridian day!
But all was dim; and soon the dimness grew
Darker and darker, almost black as night,
When, drowsily, at last the' eclipsed sun
Shut his faint eye-lid, and a sudden awe
Fell on me from the' obscured firmament.
Below—the sun-forsaken desert lay, Shorn of the coloured beams that beautify The naked rocks, till their old lichens burn Like rainbows, and the dusky heather moors Look up in crimson to the crimson clouds, Making one glory; soon the death of light Brought on the death of sound in streams and lochs, All hushed as frost; while the great cataract Kept falling in his forest sullenly, Like far-off thunder deadened by the hills.
An utter wilderness of heaven and earth!
No cottage smoke-no flitting bird—no bee
Humming—no roe astir within the brake-
No red-deer belling up among the cliffs-
Silent the eagle's eyry, as if the bird
Were preying far at sea-among the mist
Mute Echo listened, listened all in vain
In her dim cavern unresponsively,
To ghost-like whisperings and mysterious sighs
Coming and going through the solitude.
I felt a syncope of soul and sense ! Fancy her wings upfolded; Memory Lay in a swoon; Imagination, In the dull eye, and in the duller ear, Imprisoned, lost at once her heavenly dower, And worked no wonders ; like a burial-place Was all the scene around, mere dreamless dust; And I stood there, 'mid strange evanishings Of thoughts and feelings dearest to my heart, With all their sweetest, fairest imagery, Insensate almost as the very stone On which I leant, deep sunken in the moss, The black moss of that quaking wilderness.
Ofttimes to me the heart of solitude Beats cheerily, with grandeur in the cheer, With many-pulsed life. Were I a Thrall In some stone dungeon-cell beneath the sea, Rock-ribbed against the music of the tides, My finer ear could catch the melodies Of small waves breaking foamy on the shells, The pale pink shells of silvery-sanded shores Of far-off isles, where plumed heads are seen Nodding in graceful dance through palmy groves; Or the dread diapason of the deep, When ocean renders back unto the sky, From the white tumult of some mid-sea cliff, A more majestic thunder; or escaped