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Long have I wandered; the returning tide
O more than blest, that, all my wanderings through,
THE morning light, which rains its quivering beams Wide o'er the plains, the summits, and the streams, In one broad blaze expands its golden glow On all that answers to its glance below; Yet, changed on earth, each far reflected ray Braids with fresh hues the shining brow of day; Now, clothed in blushes by the painted flowers, Tracks on their cheeks the rosy-fingered hours; Now, lost in shades, whose dark entangled leaves Drip at the noontide from their pendent eaves, Fades into gloom, or gleams in light again From every dew-drop on the jewelled plain.
We, like the leaf, the summit, or the wave, Reflect the light our common nature gave, But every sunbeam, falling from her throne, Wears, on our hearts, some coloring of our own; Chilled in the slave, and burning in the free, Like the sealed cavern by the sparkling sea; Lost, like the lightning in the sullen clod, Or shedding radiance, like the smiles of God; Pure, pale in Virtue, as the star above, Or quivering roseate on the leaves of Love; Glaring like noontide, where it glows upon Ambition's sands, — the desert in the sun; Or soft suffusing o'er the varied scene Life's common coloring,
Thus Heaven, repeating its material plan, Arched over all the rainbow mind of man; But he, who, blind to universal laws, Sees but effects, unconscious of their cause, Believes each image in itself is bright, Not robed in drapery of reflected light, — Is like the rustic, who, amidst his toil, Has found some crystal in his meagre soil, And, lost in rapture, thinks for him alone Earth worked her wonders on the sparkling stone,
Nor dreams that Nature, with as nice a line,
Thus err the many, who, entranced to find Unwonted lustre in some clearer mind,
Believe that Genius sets the laws at nought
And, most of all, the pure ethereal fire,
He, whose thoughts differing not in shape, but dress,
Sits like the maniac on his fancied throne,
Peeps through the bars, and calls the world his own.
There breathes no being but has some pretence To that fine instinct called poetic sense; The rudest savage roaming through the wild, The simplest rustic, bending o'er his child, The infant listening to the warbling bird, The mother smiling at its half-formed word; The boy uncaged, who tracks the fields at large, The girl, turned matron to her babe-like charge; The freeman, casting with unpurchased hand The vote that shakes the turrets of the land; The slave, who, slumbering on his rusted chain, Dreams of the palm-trees on his burning plain; The hot-cheeked reveller, tossing down the wine, To join the chorus pealing " Auld lang syne"; The gentle maid, whose azure eye grows dim, While Heaven is listening to her evening hymn; The jewelled beauty, when her steps draw near The circling dance and dazzling chandelier; E'en trembling age, when Spring's renewing air Waves the thin ringlets of his silvered hair; All, all are glowing with the inward flame, Whose wider halo wreaths the poet's name, While, unembalmed, the silent dreamer dies, His memory passing with his smiles and sighs!
If glorious visions, born for all mankind,
Then all are poets; and, if earth had rolled
Her myriad centuries, and her doom were told,
Each moaning billow of her shoreless wave
If to embody in a breathing word
If this alone bestow the right to claim
The deathless garland and the sacred name;