Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Ah! what a tragic poet was lost in that boatwreck! Could it have happened with the “ Ode to the Skylark,” an ode as melodious, as various, and as brilliant as the song of the bird it celebrates. Both seem soaring upward to Heaven, and pouring forth an unconscious hymn of praise and thanksgiving

TO THE SKYLARK.

Hail to thee, blythe spirit !

Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,

Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher,

From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning

Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are brightening,

Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even

Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,

In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.

Keen as are the arrows

Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows

In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air

With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,

From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not;

What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden

In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden

Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not :

Like a high-born maiden

In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower :

Like a glow-worm golden

In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden

Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the view :

Like a rose embowered

In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,

Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves.

Sound of vernal showers

On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,

All that ever was
Joyous, and clear and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

Teach us, sprite or bird,

What sweet thoughts are thine :
I have never heard

Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus hymeneal,

Or triumphal chaunt,
Matched with thine would be all

But an empty vaunt
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains

Of thy happy strain ?
What fields or waves or mountains ?

What shapes of sky or plain ?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain ?

With thy clear keen joyance

Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance

Never come near thee :
Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep

Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep

Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream ?

:

We look before and after,

And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn

Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born

Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures

Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures

That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground !

Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness

From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.

If there be anywhere a companion poem to this, it is John Keats's “Ode to the Nightingale.” Poor John Keats ! he too was called in scorn a “Cockney

Poet;" he too was a friend of Leigh Hunt's; he too died far from his native country, not indeed like Shelley, by sad mischance, off the coast of Italy, but by slow disease in the very heart of the Eternal City ;-died after having done enough to show the world all that it lost in him. No one since Spenser has possessed a more graphic pen. His processions not only live, they move.

ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE,

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk :
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,-
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,

In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Oh for a draught of vintage, that hath been

Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
Oh for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim

And purple-stainëd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

« AnteriorContinuar »