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To bear him o'er creation ! and whose mind
Was as an air-harp, wakening to the sway
Of sunny Nature's breathings unconfin'd,
With all the mystic harmonies that lay
Far in the slumber of its chords enshrin'd,
Till the light breeze went thrilling on its way.
- There was no sound that wander'd through the sky, But told him secrets in its melody.
Was the deep forest lonely unto him
With all its whispering leaves ? Each dell and glade
Teem'd with such forms as on the moss-clad brim
Of fountains, in their sparry grottoes, play'd,
Seen by the Greek of yore through twilight dim,
Or misty noontide in the laurel-shade.
- There is no solitude on earth so deep
As that where man decrees that man should weep!
But oh! the life in Nature's green domains,
The breathing sense of joy! where flowers are springing
By starry thousands, on the slopes and plains,
And the grey rocks—and all the arch'd woods ringing,
And the young branches trembling to the strains
Of wild-born creatures, through the sunshine winging
Their fearless flight—and sylvan echoes round,
Mingling all tones to one Eolian sound;
And the glad voice, the laughing voice of streams,
And the low cadence of the silvery sea,
And reed-notes from the mountains, and the beams
Of the warm sun-all these are for the free!
And they were his once more, the bard, whose dreams
Their spirit still had haunted.—Could it be
That he had borne the chain ?-oh! who shall dare
To say how much man's heart uncrush'd may bear ?
So deep a root hath hope !—but woe for this,
Our frail mortality, that aught so bright,
So almost burthen’d with excess of bliss,
As the rich hour which back to summer's light
Calls the worn captive, with the gentle kiss
Of winds, and gush of waters, and the sight
Of the green carth, must so be bought with years
Of the heart's fever, parching up its tears ;
And feeding a slow fire on all its powers,
Until the boon for which we gasp in vain,
If hardly won at length, too late made ours
When the soul's wing is broken, comes like rain
Withheld till evening, on the stately flowers
Which wither'd in the noontide, ne'er again
To lift their heads in glory. So doth Earth
Breathe on her gifts, and melt away their worth.
The sailor dies in sight of that green shore,
Whose fields, in slumbering beauty, seem'd to lie
On the deep's foam, amidst its hollow roar
Call’d up to sunlight by his fantasy-
And, when the shining desert-mists that wore
The lake's bright semblance, have been all pass’d by,
The pilgrim sinks beside the fountain-wave,
Which flashes from its rock, too late to save.
Or if we live, if that, too dearly bought,
And made too precious by long hopes and fears,
Remains our own-love, darken’d and o’erwrought
By memory of privation, love, which wears
And casts o'er life a troubled hue of thought,
Becomes the shadow of our closing years,
Making it almost misery to possess
Aught, watch'd with such unquiet tenderness.
Such unto him, the bard, the worn and wild,
And sick with hope deferr'd, from whom the sky,
With all its clouds in burning glory pil'd,
Had been shut out by long captivity ;
Such, freedom was to Tasso.—As a child
Is to the mother, whose foreboding eye
In its too radiant glance, from day to day,
Reads that which calls the brightest first away.
And he became a wandererin whose breast
Wild fear, which, e'en when every sense doth sleep,
Clings to the burning heart, a wakeful guest,
Sat brooding as a spirit, rais’d to keep
Its gloomy vigil of intense unrest
O’er treasures, burthening life, and buried deep
In cavern-tomb, and sought, through shades and stealth,
By some pale mortal, trembling at his wealth.
But woe for those who trample o'er a mind!
A deathless thing.–They know not what they do,
Or what they deal with !-Man perchance may bind
The flower his step hath bruis’d; or light anew
The torch he quenches; or to music wind
Again the lyre-string from his touch that flew-
But for the soul !-oh! tremble, and beware
To lay rude hands upon God's mysteries there !
For blindness wraps that world—our touch may turn
Some balance, fearfully and darkly hung,
Or put out some bright spark, whose ray should burn
To point the way a thousand rocks among-
Or break some subtle chain, which none discern,
Though binding down the terrible, the strong,
Th’ o'ersweeping passions—which to loose on life
Is to set free the elements for strife!
Who then to power and glory shall restore
That which our evil rashness hath undone ?
Who unto mystic harmony once more
Attune those viewless chords ?--There is but One!