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But ’tis past—and, tho’ blazon'd in story
The name of our victor may be, Accurst is the march of that glory
Which treads o'er the hearts of the free.
Far dearer the grave or the prison,
Illumed by one patriot name,
Than the trophies of all, who have risen
On Liberty's ruins to fame.
295. THOSE EVENING BELLS.
Those evening bells ! those evening bells !
How many a tale their music tells,
Of youth, and home, and that sweet time
When last I heard their soothing chime !
Those joyous hours are past away!
And many a heart, that then was gay,
Within the tomb now darkly dwells,
And hears no more those evening bells !
And so 'twill be when I am gone;
That tuneful peal will still ring on,
While other bards shall walk these dells,
And sing your praise, sweet evening bells !
296. THE TURF SHALL BE MY FRAGRANT SHRINE.
The turf shall be my fragrant shrine ;
My temple, Lord! that arch of thine ;
My censer's breath the mountain airs,
And silent thoughts my only prayers.
My choir shall be the moonlight waves,
When murmuring homeward to their caves,
Or when the stillness of the sea,
Even more than music, breathes of Thee !
I'll seek, by day, some glade unknown,
All light and silence, like thy Throne !
And the pale stars shall be, at night,
The only eyes that watch my rite.
Thy Heaven, on which ’tis bliss to look,
Shall be my pure and shining book,
Where I shall read, in words of flame,
The glories of thy wondrous name.
I'll read thy anger in the rack
That clouds awhile the day-beam's track;
Thy mercy in the azure hue
Of sunny brightness breaking through!
There's nothing bright, above, below,
From flowers that bloom to stars that glow,
But in its light my soul can see
Some feature of thy Deity!
There's nothing dark, below, above,
But in its gloom I trace thy Love,
And meekly wait that moment, when
Thy touch shall turn all bright again!
Percy Bysshe Shelley. 1792-1821. (Manual, pp. 438-443.)
297. TO A SKYLARK.
Hail to thee, blithe 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 brightning,
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 day-light
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
Keen 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,
Its aërial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view.
Like a rose embower'd
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflower'd,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much scent these heavy-winged thieves.
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
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.
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 came 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 could come near.
Better than all measures
Of delight and 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 the brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
298. RETURNING SPRING.
Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year ;
The airs and streams renew their joyous tone ;
The ants, the bees, the swallows, reappear ;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead seasons' bier.
The loving birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field and brere ;
And the green lizard, and the golden snake,
Like unimprisoned flames, out of their trance awake.
Through wood and stream and field and hill and ocean,
A quickening life from the earth's heart has burst,
As it has ever done, with change and motion,
From the great morning of the world when first
God dawned on chaos ; in its stream immersed,
The lamps of heaven flash with a softer light;
All baser things pant with life's sacred thirst,
Diffuse themselves; and spend in love's delight
The beauty and the joy of their renewed might.
293. THE PLAIN OF LOMBARDY.
Beneath is spread, like a green sea,
The waveless plain of Lombardy,
Bounded by the vaporous air,
Islanded by cities fair ;
Underneath day's azure eyes,
Ocean's nursling, Venice, lies -
A peopled labyrinth of walls,
Amphitrite's destined halls,
Which her hoary sire now paves
With his blue and beaming waves.
Lo! the sun upsprings behind,
Broad, red, radiant, half-reclined
On the level quivering line
Of the waters crystalline ;
And before that chasm of light,
As within a furnace bright,
Column, tower, and dome, and spire,
Shine like obelisks of fire,
Pointing with inconstant motion
From the altar of dark ocean
To the sapphire-tinted skies :