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ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER.
As once, if not with light regard
I read aright that gifted bard
(Him whose school above the rest
His loveliest elfin-queen has bless'd),
One, only one unrivall’d fair
Might hope the magic girdle wear,
At solemn tournay hung on high,
The wish of each love-darting eye ;
Lo! to each other nymph in turn applied,
As if, in air unseen, some hovering hand,
Some chaste and angel friend to virgin fame,
With whisper'd spell had burst the starting band, It left unbless'd her loathed, dishonour'd side ;
Happier, hopeless fair, if never
Her baffled hand with vain endeavour
Had touch'd that fatal zone to her denied !
Young Fancy thus, to me divinest name,
To whom, prepared and bathed in heaven,
The cest of amplest power is given,
To few the godlike gift assigns,
To gird their bless'd prophetic loins,
And gaze her visions wild, and feel unmix'd hel
The band, as fairy legends say,
[flame Was wove on that creating day. When he, who call’d with thought to birth Yon tented sky, this laughing earth, And dress’d with springs and forests tall, And pour'd the main engirting all, Long by the loved enthusiast wood, Himself in some diviner mood, Retiring, sate with her alone, And placed her on his sapphire throne : The whiles, the vaulted shrine around, Seraphic wires were heard to sound, Now sublimest triumph swelling, Now on love and mercy dwelling: And she, from out the veiling cloud, Breathed her magic notes aloud :
And thou, thou rich-hair'd youth of morn,
And all thy subject life was born!
The dangerous passions kept aloof,
Far from the sainted growing woof:
But near it sate ecstatic wonder,
Listening the deep-applauding thunder:
And truth, in sunny vest array'd,
By whose the Tarsol's eyes were made.
All the shadowy tribes of mind,
In braided dance their murmurs join'd;
And all the bright uncounted powers,
Who feed on heaven's ambrosial flowers.
Where is the bard, whose soul can now
Its high presuming hopes avow?
Where he who thinks, with rapture blind,
This hallow'd work for him design'd?
High on some cliff, to heav'n up-piled,
Of rude access, of prospect wild,
Where, tangled round the jealous steep,
Strange shapes o'erbrow the valleys deep,
And holy genii guard the rock,
Its glooms imbrown, its springs unlock,
While on its rich ambitious head,
An Eden, like his own, lies spread ;
I view that oak, the fancied glades among,
By which, as Milton lay, his evening ear,
From many a cloud that dropp'd ethereal dew,
Nigh sphered in heaven its native strains could hear;
On which that ancient trump he reach'd was hung.
Thither oft his glory greeting,
From Waller's myrtle shades retreating,
With many a vow from hope's aspiring tongue,
My trembling feet his guiding steps pursue ;
In vain-Such bliss to one alone
Of all the sons of soul was known;
And Heaven and Fancy, kindred powers,
Have now o’erturn'd th' inspiring bowers,
Or curtain'd close such scene from every future view,
Silent nymph, with curious eyes'
Who, the purple evening, lies
On the mountain's lonely van,
Beyond the noise of busy man;
Painting fair the form of things,
While the yellow linnet sings;
Or the tuneful nightingale
Charms the forest with her tale ;
Come with all thy various dues,
Come and aid thy sister Muse;
Now, while Phæbus, riding high,
Gives lustre to the land and sky!
Grongar Hill invites my song,
Draw the landscape bright and strong ;
Grongar, in whose mossy cells
Sweetly musing Quiet dwells;
Grongar, in whose silent shade,
For the modest Muses made,
So oft I have, the evening still,
At the fountain of a rill,
Sate upon a flowery bed,
With my hand beneath my head;
While stray'd my eyes o'er Towy's flood,
Over mead and over wood,
From house to house, from hill to hill,
Till Contemplation had her fill.
About his checker'd sides I wind,
And leave his brooks and meads behind,
And groves and grottoes where I lay,
And vistas shooting beams of day:
Wide and wider spreads the vale,
As circles on a smooth canal:
The mountains round, unhappy fate!
Sooner or later, of all height,
Withdraw their summits from the skies,
And lessen as the others rise :
Still the prospect wider spreads,
Adds a thousand woods and meads;
Still it widens, widens still,
And sinks the newly-risen hill.
Now, I gain the mountain's brow,
What a landscape lies below!
No clouds, no vapours intervene;
But the gay, the open scene
Does the face of Nature show,
In all the hues of heaven's bow!
And, swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight.
Old castles on the cliffs arise,
Proudly towering in the skies !
Rushing from the woods, the spires
Seem from hence ascending fires !
Half his beams Apollo sheds
On the yellow mountain-heads !
Gilds the fleeces of the flocks,
And glitters on the broken rocks !
Below me trees unnumber'd rise,
Beautiful in various dyes :
The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,
The yellow beach, the sable yew,
The slender fir that taper grows,
The sturdy oak with broad-spread boughs
And beyond the purple grove,
Haunt of Phyllis, queen of love!
Gaudy as the opening dawn,
Lies a long and level lawn,
On which a dark hill, steep and high,
Holds and charms the wandering eye!
Deep are his feet in Towy's flood,
His sides are clothed with waving wood,
And ancient towers crown his brow,
That cast an awful look below;
Whose ragged walls the ivy creeps,
And with her arms from falling keeps ;
So both a safety from the wind
On mutual dependance find.
'Tis now the raven's bleak abode;
'Tis now th' apartment of the toad :
And there the fox securely feeds;
And there the poisonous adder breeds,
Conceal'd in ruins, moss, and weeds ;
While, ever and anon, there falls
Huge heaps of hoary mouldering walls.
Yet Time has seen, that lifts the low,
And level lays the lofty brow,
Has seen this broken pile complete,
Big with the vanity of state;
But transient is the smile of Fate!
A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter's day,
Is all the proud and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave.
And see the rivers, how they run
Through woods and meads, in shade and sun,
Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,
Wave succeeding wave, they go
A various journey to the deep,
Like human life to endless sleep!
Thus is Nature's vesture wrought,
To instruct our wandering thought;
Thus she dresses green and gay,
To disperse our cares away.
Ever charming, ever new,
When will the landscape tire the view!
The fountain's fall, the river's flow,
The woody valleys, warm and low;
The windy summit, wild and high,
Roughly rushing on the sky!
The pleasant seat, the ruin’d tower,
The naked rock, the shady bower;
The town and village, dome and farm,
Each give each a double charm,
As pearls upon an Ethiop's arm.