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Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrallid.is
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment, hoodwink’d. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them, by a tune entranced.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing therefore without pause or choice
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees and rivulets, whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won
By slow solicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
What prodigies can power divine perform
More grand than it produces year by year,
And all in sight of inattentive man ?
Familiar with the effect we slight the cause,
And in the constancy of Nature's course,
The regular return of genial months,
And renovation of a faded world,
See nought to wonder at. Should God again,
As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race
Of the undeviating and punctual sun,
How would the world admire! but speaks it less
An agency divine, to make him know
His mament when to sink and when to rise,
Age after age, than to arrest his course ?
All we behold is miracle ; but seen
So duly, all is miracle in vain.
Where now the vital energy that moved,
While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph
Through the imperceptible meandering veins
Of leaf and flower? It sleeps ; and the icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impress'd
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restored. These naked shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,
Shall put their graceful foliage on again,
And more aspiring, and with ampler spread,
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost.
Then cach, in its peculiar honours clad,
Shall publish even to the distant eye
Its family and tribe. Laburnum, rich
In streaming gold; syringa, ivory pure;
The scentless and the scented rose; this red,
And of an humbler growth, the other* tall,
And throwing up into the darkest gloom
Of neighbouring cypress, or more sable yew,
Her silver globes, light as the foamy surf
That the wind severs from the broken wave;
The lilac, various in array, now white,
Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if
Studious of ornament, yet unresolved
Which hue she most approved, she chose them all ;
Copious of flowers the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating her sickly looks
With never-cloying odours, early and late ;
Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm
Of flowers, like flies clothing her slender rods,
That scarce a leaf appears; mezereon too,
Though leafless, well attired, and thick beset
With blushing wreaths, investing every spray ;
Althæa with the purple eye; the broom,
Yellow and bright, as bullion unalloy'd,
Her blossoms ; and luxuriant above all
The jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets,
The deep dark green of whose unvarnish'd leaf
Makes more conspicuous, and illumines more,
The bright profusion of her scatter'd stars.-
These have been, and these shall be in their day;
And all this uniform uncolourd scene
Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load,
And flush into variety again. -
From dearth to plenty, and from death to life,
Is Nature's progress, when she lectures man
In heavenly truth; evincing, as she makes
The grand transition, that there lives and works
A soul in all things, and that soul is God.
The beauties of the wilderness are his,
That makes so gay the solitary place,
Where no eye sees them. And the fairer forms,
That cultivation glories in, are his.
He sets the bright procession on its way,
And marshals all the order of the year;
He marks the bounds which winter may not pass,
And blunts his pointed fury; in its case,
Russet and rude, folds up the tender germ,
Uninjured, with inimitable art; .
And ere one flowery season fades and dies,
Designs the blooming wonders of the next.
Some say that in the origin of things,
When all creation started into birth,
The infant elements received a law
From which they swerve not since: that under force
Of that controlling ordinance they move,
And need not His immediate hand, who first
Prescribed their course, to regulate it now. .
Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God
The encumbrance of his own concerns, and spare
The great Artificer of all that moves
The stress of a continual act, the pain
Of unremitted vigilance and care,
As too laborious and severe a task.
So man, the moth, is not afraid, it seems,
To span Omnipotence, and measure might
That knows no measure, by the scanty rule
And standard of his own, that is to-day,
And is not ere to-morrow's sun go down.
But how should matter occupy a charge,
Dull as it is, and satisfy a law
So vast in its demands, unless impellid
To ceaseless service by a ceaseless force,
And under pressure of some conscious cause ?
The Lord of all, himself through all diffused,
Sustains, and is the life of all that lives.
Nature is but a name for an effect,
Whose cause is God. He feeds the sacred fire
By which the mighty process is maintain'd,
Who sleeps not, is not weary ; in whose sight
Slow circling ages are as transient days;
Whose work is without labour; whose designs
No flaw deforms, no difficulty thwarts;
And whose beneficence no charge exhausts. .
Him blind antiquity profaned, not served,
With self-taught rites, and under various names,
Female and male, Pomona, Pales, Pan,
And Flora, and Vertumnus ; peopling earth
With tutelary goddesses and gods,
That were not; and commending as they would
To each some province, garden, field, or grove.
But all are under one. One spirit His
Who wore the platted thorns with bleeding brows,
Rules universal Nature. Not a flower
But shews some touch, in freckle, streak, or stain,
Of his unrivalld pencil. He inspires
Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues,
And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes
In grains as countless as the seaside sands,
The forms with which he sprinkles all the earth.
Happy who walks with him! whom what he finds
Of flavour or of scent in fruit or flower,
Or what he views of beautiful or grand
In Nature, from the broad majestic oak
To the green blade that twinkles in the sun,
Prompts with remembrance of a present God.
His presence, who made all so fair, perceived,
Makes all still fairer. As with him no scene
Is dreary, so with him all seasons please.
Though winter had been none, had man been true,
And earth be punish'd for its tenant's sake,
Yet not in vengeance; as this smiling sky,
So soon succeeding such an angry night,
And these dissolving snows, and this clear stream Recovering fast its liquid music, prove.
Who, then, that has a mind well strung and tuned To contemplation, and within his reach A scene so friendly to his favourite task, Would waste attention at the chequer'd board, His host of wooden warriors to and fro Marching and countermarching, with an eye As fix'd as marble, with a forehead ridged And furrow'd into storms, and with a hand Trembling, as if eternity were hung In balance on his conduct of a pin ? Nor envies he aught more their idle sport, Who pant with application misapplied To trivial toys, and, pushing ivory balls Across a velvet level, feel a joy Akin to rapture, when the bauble finds Its destined goal, of difficult access. Nor deems he wiser him who gives his noon To Miss, the mercer's plague, from shop to shop Wandering, and littering with unfolded silks The polish'd counter, and approving none, Or promising with smiles to call again. Nor him who, by his vanity seduced, And soothed into a dream that he discerns The difference of a Guido from a daub, Frequents the crowded auction: station'd there As duly as the Langford * of the show, With glass at eye, and catalogue in hand, And tongue accomplish'd in the fulsome cant And pedantry that coxcombs learn with ease; Oft as the price-deciding hammer falls, He notes it in his book, then raps his box, Swears 'tis a bargain, rails at his hard fate, That he has let it pass - but never bids.
Here unmolested, through whatever sign The sun proceeds, I wander. Neither mist, Nor freezing sky nor sultry, checking me, Nor stranger intermeddling with my joy.