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NO MORE POETRY.
Into the darkness; now a tranquil sea,
A CONVERSATION POEM.
WRITTEN IN APRIL, 1798.
Of sullen light, no obscure trembling bues. Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close Come, we will rest on this old mossy bridge! I sate, my being blended in one thought,
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath, (Thought was it? or aspiration? or resolve ?) But hear no murmuring: it flows silently, Absorb’d, yet hanging still upon the sound
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the nightingale begins its song,
“ Most musical, most melancholyot bird ! WHO HAD DECLARED HIS INTENTION OF WRITING A melancholy bird ? 0! idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
But some night-wandering man, whose heart was DEAR Charles ! whilst yet thou wert a babe, I
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong, That genius plunged thee in that wizard fount,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love, Hight Castalie: and (sureties of thy faith)
(And so, poor wretch! fill'd all things with himThat pity and simplicity stood by,
self, And promised for thee, that thou shouldst renounce And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale The world's low cares and lying vanities,
Of his own sorrow,) he, and such as he, Steadfast and rooted in the heavenly muse, First named these notes a melancholy strain. And wash'd and sanctified to poesy.
And many a poet echoes the conceit; Yes, thou wert plunged, but with forgetful hand
Poet who hath been building up the rhyme Held, as by Thetis erst her warrior son:
When he had better far have stretch'd his limbs And with those recreant unbaptized heels
Beside a brook in mossy forest dell, Thou’rt flying from thy bounden ministeries,
By sun or moonlight, to the influxes So sore it seems and burthensome a task
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements I'o weave unwithering flowers ! But take thou Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song heed:
And of his frame forgetful! so his fame For thou art vulnerable, wild-eyed boy,
Should share in nature's immortality, And I have arrows* mystically dipp'd,
A venerable thing! and so his song duch as may stop thy speed. Is thy Burns dead ?
Should make all nature lovelier, and itself And shall he die unwept, and sink to earth
Be loved like nature ! But 'twill not be so; "Without the meed of one melodious tear ?”
And youths and maidens most poetical, Thy Burns, and nature's own beloved bard,
Who lose the deepening twilights of the spring Who to the “Illustrioust of his native land
In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still, 6o properly did look for patronage.”
Full of meek sympathy, must heave their sighs Ghost of Mæcenas ! hide thy blushing face!
O'er Philomela's pity-pleading strains. They snatch'd him from the sickle and the plough,
My friend, and thou, our sister! we have learnt To gauge ale-firkins.
A different lore: we may not thus profane 0! for shame, return!
Nature's sweet voices, always full of love On a bleak rock, midway th’ Aonian mount,
And joyance! 'Tis the merry nightingale There stands a lone and melancholy tree,
That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates Whose aged branches in the midnight blast
With fast thick warble his delicious notes, Make solemn music: pluck its darkest bough,
As he were fearful that an April night Erc yet th’ unwholesome night-dew be exhaled,
Would be too short for him to utter forth And weeping wreath it round thy poet's tomb.
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul Then in the outskirts, where pollutions grow,
Of all its music! Pick the rank henbane and the dusky flowers
And I know a grove Of night-shade, or its red and tempting fruit.
of large extent, hard by a castle huge, These with stopp'd nostril and glove-guarded haud, Knit in nice intertexture, so to twine
* This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far Th’illustrious brow of Scotch nobility.
superior to that of mere description. It is spoken in the 1796.
character of the melancholy man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The author makes this remark, w
rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with * Vide Pind. Olymp. iii. 1. 156.
levity to a line in Milton; a charge than which none + Verbatim from Burns's dedication of his Poem to the could be more painful to him, except perhaps that of hace Vobility and Gentry of the Caledonian Hunt.
ing ridiculed his Bible.
Which the great lord inhabits not; and so
FROST AT MIDNIGHT.
Unhelp’d by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud-and hark, again ! loud as before. In wood and thicket, over the wide grove,
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest, They answer and provoke each other's song, Have left me to that solitude, which suits With skirmish and capricious passagings,
Abstruser musings : save that at my side And murmurs musical and swift jug jug,
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully. And one low piping sound more sweet than all 'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs Stirring the air with such a harmony,
And vexes meditation with its strange That should you close your eyes, you might al. And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood, most
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood, Forget it was not day! On moonlight bushes, With all the numberless goings on of life, Whose dewy leaflets are but half-disclosed,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame You may perchance behold them on the twigs, Lies on my low burnt fire, and quivers not; Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright Only that film, which flutter'd on the grate, and full,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing. Glistening, while many a glow-worm in the shade Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature Lights up her love-torch.
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
A most gentle maid, Making it a companionable form, Who dwelleth in her hospitable home
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling spirit Hard by the castle, and at latest eve,
By its own moods interprets, everywhere (E'en like a lady vow'd and dedicate
Echo or mirror seeking of itself, To something more than nature in the grove,) And makes a toy of thought. Glides through the pathways: she knows all their
But 0! how oft, notes,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind That gentle maid! and oft a moment's space, Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars, What time the moon was lost behind a cloud, To watch that fluttering stranger! and as ost Hath heard a pause of silence; till the moon With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt Emerging, hath awaken'd earth and sky
Of my sweet birthplace, and the old church tower, With one sens on, and these wakeful birds Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy,
From morn to evening, all the hot fair-day, As if some sudden gale had swept at once
So sweetly, that they stirr'd and haunted me A hundred airy harps! And she hath watch'd With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear Many a nightingale perch'd giddily
Most like articulate sounds of things to come! On blossomy twig still swinging from the breeze, So gazed I, till the soothing things I dreamt, And to that motion tune his wanton song
Lulld me to sleep, and sleep prolong'd my dreams! Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.
And so I brooded all the following morn, Farewell, 0 warbler! till to-morrow eve, Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye And you, my friends ! farewell, a short farewell! Fix'd with mock study on my swimming book : We have been loitering long and pleasantly, Save if the door half-open'd, and I snatch'd And now for our dear homes.—The strain again? A hasty glance, and still my heart leap'd up, Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe, For still I hoped to see the stranger's face, Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
My playmate when we both were clothed alike! How he would place his hand beside his ear,
Dear babe, that sleepest cradled by my side, His little hand, the small forefinger up,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm, And bid us listen! And I deem it wise
Fill up the interspersed vacancies To make him nature's playmate. He knows well And momentary pauses of the thought! The evening star; and once, when he awoke My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart In most distressful mood, (some inward pain With tender gladness, thus to look at thee, Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream,) And think that thou shalt learn far other lore, I hurried with him to our orchard-plot,
And in far other scenes! For I was rear'd And he beheld the moon, and, hush'd at once, In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim, Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently, And saw naught lovely but the sky and stars. While his fair eyes, that swam with undroppa | But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze tears
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags Did glitter in the yellow moonbeam! Well! - Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, It is a father's tale: but if that Heaven
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and heas Familiar with these songs, that with the night The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible He may associate joy! Once more, farewell, Of that eternal language, which thy God Sweet nightingale! Once more, my friends ! fare- Utters, who from eternity doth teach well.
Himsell in all, and ail things in himself,
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Bend o’er the traces, blame each lingering dove, Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
And give me to the bosom of my love! Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, My gentle love, caressing and carest, Whether the summer clothe the general earth With heaving heart shall cradle me to rest; With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing Shed the warm tear-drop from her smiling eyes, Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Lull with fond wo, and med’cine me with sighs : Of mossy apple tree, while the nigh thatch While finely-flushing float her kisses meek, Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops Like melted rubies, o'er my pallid cheek. fall
Chill'd by the night, the drooping rose of May Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Mourns the long absence of the lovely day; Or if the secret ministry of frost
Young day, returning at her promised hour, Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Weeps o'er the sorrows of her favourite flower Quietly shining to the quiet moon.
Weeps the soft dew, the balmy gale she sighs,
His pitying mistress mourns, and mourning heals !
TOGETHER WITH AN UNFINISHED POEM.
Thus far my scanty brain hath built the rhyme
LINES TO JOSEPH COTTLE.
Not there the cloud-climb'd rock, sublime and vast,
THE HOUR WHEN WE SHALL MEET There for the monarch-murder'd soldier's tomb AGAIN.
You wove th' unfinish'd wreath of saddest hues ;*
And to that holier chaplett added bloom, COMPOSED DURING ILLNESS AND IN ABSENCE.
Besprinkling it with Jordan's cleansing dews. Dim hour! that sleep'st on pillowing clouds afar,
But lo! your Hendersonf awakes the museO rise and yoke the turtles to thy car!
His spirit beckon'd from the mountain's height!
You left the plain and soar'd mid richer views ! * I utterly recant the sentiment contained in the lines So nature mourn'd, when sank the first day's light, of whose omniscient and all-spreading love
With stars, unseen before, spangling her robe of Aught to implore were impotence of mind,
night! it being written in Scripture, “Ask, and it shall be given you," and my human reason being moreover convinced of the propriety of offering petitions as well as thanksgiv. * War, a fragment. + John the Baptist, a poem, ings to the Deity.
I Monody on John Henderson.
Still soar, my friend, those richer views among, innocence of his own heart still mistaking her in-
much abuse of Mary's temper and moral tendencies, Waked by heaven's silent dews at eve's mild exclaimed with violent emotion—“O Edward ! ingleam,
deed, indeed, she is not fit for you-she has not a What balmy sweets Pomona breathes around ! heart to love you as you deserve. It is I that love But if the vext air rush a stormy stream,
you! Marry me, Edward! and I will this very Or autumn's shrill gust moan in plainti sound, day settle all my property on you.”—The lover's With fruits and flowers she loads the tempest- eyes were now opened ; and thus taken by surprise, honour'd ground.
whether from the effect of the horror which he felt, acting as it were hysterically on his nervous system, or that at the first moment he lost the sense
of the proposal in the feeling of its strangeness and 1V. ODES AND MISCELLANEOUS
absurdity, he sung her from him and burst into a POEMS.
fit of laughter. Irritated by this almost to frenzy, the woman fell on her knees, and in a loud voice
that approached to a scream, she prayed for a curse THE THREE GRAVES.
both on him and on her own child. Mary happened
to be in the room directly above them, heard EdA FRAGMENT OF A SEXTON'S TALE.
ward's laugh and her mother's blasphemous prayer, [The author has published the following humble and fainted away. He, hearing the fall, ran up fragment, oncouraged by the decisive recommenda-stairs, and taking her in his arms, carried her off to tion of more than one of our most celebrated living Ellen's home; and after some fruitless attempts on poets. The language was intended to be dramatic; her part toward a reconciliation with her mother, that is, suited to the narrator: and the metre cor
she was married to him.—And here the third part responds to the homeliness of the diction. It is of the tale begins. therefore presented as the fragment, not of a poem,
I was not led to choose this story from any parbut of a common ballad tale. Whether this is suf- tiality to tragic, much less to monstrous events, ficient to justify the adoption of such a style, in (though at the time that I composed the verses, any metrical composition not professedly ludicrous, somewhat more than twelve years ago, I was less the author is himself in some doubt. At all events
averse to such subjects than at present,) but from it is not presented as poetry, and it is in no way finding in it a striking proof of the possible effect connected with the author's judgment concerning
on the imagination, from an idea violently and poetic diction. Its merits, if any, are exclusivley suddenly impressed on it. I had been reading psychological. The story, which must be supposed Bryan Edwards's account of the effect of the Oby to have been narrated in the first and second parts, Witchcraft on the Negroes in the West Indies, and is as follows.
Hearne's deeply interesting anecdotes of similar Edward, a young farmer, meets, at the house of workings on the imagination of the Copper Indians, Ellen, her bosom friend, Mary, and commences an (those of my readers who have it in their power acquaintance, which ends in a mutual attachment. will be well repaid for the trouble of referring to With her consent, and by the advice of their com
those works for the passages alluded to,) and I conmon friend Ellen, he announces his hopes and in-ceived the design of showing that instances of this tentions to Mary's mother, a widow woman border- | kind are not peculiar to savage or barbarous es, ing on her fortieth year, and from constant health, and of illustrating the mode in which the mind is the possession of a competent property, and from affected in these cases, and the progress and symphaving had no other children but Mary and another toms of the morbid action on the fancy from the daughter, (the father died in their infancy,) retain-beginning. ing, for the greater part, her personal attractions
[The tale is supposed to be narrated by an old and comeliness of appearance; but a woman of sexton, in a country churchyard, to a traveller low education and violent temper.
whose curiosity had been awakened by the appear-
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