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I would not be
A leaf on yonder aspen tree ;
In every fickle breeze to play,
Wildly, weakly, idly gay,
So feebly framed, so lightly hung,
By the wing of an insect stirred and swung;
Thrilling even to a readbreast's note,
Drooping if only a light mist float,
Brightened and dimmed like a varying glass
As shadow or sunbeam chance to pass ;-
I would not be
A leaf on yonder aspen tree.
It is not because the autumn sere
Would change my merry guise and cheer,-
That soon, full soon, nor leaf nor stem,
Sunlight would gladden, or dewdrop gem,
That I, with my fellows, must fall to earth,
Forgotten our beauty and breezy mirth,
Or else on the bough where all had grown,
Must linger on, and linger alone ;-
Might life be an endless summer's day,
And I be for ever green and gay,
I would not be, I would not be
A leaf on yonder aspen tree !
Proudly spoken, heart of mine,
Yet weakness and change perchance are thine,
More, and darker and sadder to see,
Than befall the leaves of yonder tree!
What if they flutter-their life is a dance ;
Or toy with the sunbeam-they live in his glance;
To bird, breeze, and insect rustle and thrill,
Never the same, never mute, never still,-
Emblems of all that is fickle and gay,
But leaves in their birth, but leaves in decay-
Chide them not, heed them not-spirit away!
In to thyself, to thinę own hidden shrine,
What there dost thou worship? What deem'st thou
Thy hopes,—are they steadfast, and holy and high?
Are they built on a rock? Are they raised to the sky?
Thy deep secret yearnings, -oh! whither point they,
To the triunaphs of earth, to the toys of a day?-
Thy friendships and feelings, -doth impulse prevail,
To make them, and mar them, as wind swells the sail?
Thy life's ruling passion—thy being's first aim
What are they? and yield they contentment or shame?
Spirit, proud spirit, ponder thy state ;
If thine the leaf's lightness, not thiñe the leaf's fate:
It may flutter, and glisten, and wither, and die,
And heed not our pity, and ask not our sigh ;
But for thee, the immortal, no winter may throw
Eternal repose on thy joy, or thy woe ;
Thou must live, and live ever, in glory or gloom,
Beyond the world's precincts, beyond the dark tomb.
Look on thyself then, ere past is Hope's reign,
And looking and longing alike are in vain ;
Lest thou deem it a bliss to have been or to be
But a fluttering leaf on yon aspen tree !
Oh! how could fancy crown with thee
In ancient days, the god of wine, And bid thee at the banquet be
Companion of the vine ? Thy home, wild plant, is where each sound
Of revelry hath long been o'er, Where song's full notes once pealed around,
But now are heard no more.
The Roman, on his battle-plains,
Where kings before his Eagles bent,
Entwined thee, with exulting strains,
Around the victor's tent;
Yet there, though fresh in glossy green,
Triumphantly thy boughs might wave,
Better thou lov'st the silent scene,
Around the victor's grave.
Where sleep the sons of ages flown,
The bards and heroes of the past Where, through the halls of glory gone,
Murmurs the wintry blast ; Where years are hast'ning to efface
Each record of the grand and fair, Thou in thy solitary grace,
Wreath of the tomb! art there,
Thou, o'er the shrines of fallen gods
On classic plains dost mantling spread, And veil the desolate abodes
And cities of the dead. Deserted palaces of kings,
Arches of triumph, long o'erthrown, And all once glorious earthly things,
At length are thine alone.
Oh! many a temple, once sublime,
Beneath the blue, Italian sky, Hath nought of beauty left by time,
Save thy wild tapestry : And, reared 'midst crags and clouds, 'tis thine
To wave where banners waved of yore ; O'er mould'ring towers, by lovely Rhine,
Cresting the rocky shore.
High from the fields of air look down
Those eyries of a vanished race,
Homes of the mighty, whose renown
Hath passed, and left no trace.
But thou art there—thy foliage bright
Unchanged the mountain-storm can brave, Thou that wilt climb the loftiest height,
And deck the humblest grave.
The breathing forms of Parian stone,
That rise round grandeur's marble halls, The vivid hues, by painting thrown
Rich o'er the glowing walls ;
Th’ Acanthus, on Corinthian fanes,
In sculptured beauty waving fair ; These perish all--and what remains ?
Thou, thou alone, art there!
'Tis still the same-where'er we tread,
The wrecks of human pow'r we see,
The marvels of all ages fled,
Left to decay and thee!
And still let man his fabrics rear,
August in beauty, grace and strength,
Days pass-thou, Ivy, never sere,
And all is thine at length!
ODE ON THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON.
NOBLE spirit! hast thou fled,
Is thy glorious journey sped,
Thy days of brightness numbered,
Soul of dread sublimity!
Hast thou burst thy prison bands,
Twined round thee by coward hands,
Hast thou fled to other lands,
Where thou must-thou wilt be free!
Tyrants ! cowards ! mark the day,
Even now 'tis on the way,
When your names, to scorn a prey,
Shall live with endless infamy!