thou art my Ararat of life,
Smiling above the deluge of my cares,
My only refuge from the storms of strife,
When constant Hope her noblest aspect wears,
When my torn mind its broken strength repairs,
And volant Fancy breathes a sweeter strain.
Calm season! when my thirsting spirit shares
A draught of joy unmixed with aught of pain,
Spending the quiet hours 'mid Nature's green domain.
Once more the ponderous engines are at rest,
Where Manufacture's mighty structures rise:
Once more the babe is pillowed at the breast,
Watch'd by a weary mother's yearning eyes:
Once more to purer air the artist flies,
Loosed from a weekly prison's stern controul,
Perchance to look abroad on fields and skies,
Nursing the germ of freedom in his soul,—
Happy if he escape the thraldom of the bowl.
'Tis morn, but yet the cloudless moon
Pours from her starry urn a chastened light:
'Tis but a little space beyond the noon—
The still delicious noon of Summer's night;
Forth from my home I take an early flight,
Down the lone vale pursue my devious way,
Bound o'er the meadows with a keen delight,
Brush from the forest leaves the dewy spray,
And scale the toilsome steep, to watch the kindling day.
The lark is up, disdainful of the earth,
Exulting in his airy realm on high;
His song, profuse in melody and mirth,
Makes vocal all the region of the sky;
The startled moor-cock, with a sudden cry,
Springs from beneath my feet; and as I pass,
The sheep regard me with an earnest eye,
Ceasing to nibble at the scanty grass,
And scour the barren waste in one tumultuous mass.
But lo, the stars are waning, and the dawn
Blushes and burns athwart the east;—behold,
The early sun, behind the upland lawn,
Looks o'er the summit with a front of gold;
Back from his beaming brow the mists are rolled,
And as he climbs the crystal tower of morn,
Rocks, woods, and glens their shadowy depths unfold;
The trembling dews grow brighter on the thorn,
And Nature smiles as fresh as if but newly born.
God of the boundless universe! I come
To hold communion with myself and Thee!
And though excess of beauty makes me dumb,
My thoughts are eloquent with all I see;
My foot is on the mountains,—I am free,
And buoyant as the winds that round me blow!
My dreams as sunny as yon pleasant lea,
And tranquil as the pool that sleeps below;
While, circling round my heart, a poet's raptures glow.
Oh, glorious Summer! what a sight is here,
To wean the heart from selfishness and care!
Where the vast prospect, bright, distinct, and clear,
Looks up in silence through the stainless air:
The moorlands are behind me, bleak and bare,
A rude and trackless wilderness of land;
Beneath me lie the vales, calm, rich, and fair,
With Alpine summits rising on each band;
And stretching far before, the peopled plains expand.
Behold each various feature of the scene,
Shining in light, and softening into shade;
Peak beyond peak, with many a mile between,—
The rude defile, the lonely forest glade,—
The gold-besprinkled meadows, softly swayed
By every fitful frolic of the breeze,—
The river, like a wandering child, conveyed
Back to the bosom of its native seas,
Paved with all glorious shapes, skies, clouds, hills,
Behold the lordly mansion's splendid pride,
The peasant's cottage with its zone of flowers,—
The shepherd's hut upon the mountain's side,
Keeping lone watch through calm and stormy hours,—
The clustered hamlet, with its quiet bowers,—
The pastor's snug abode, and gothic fane,—
The crowded city, with its thousand towers,—
The silver-sheeted lake, the opening plain,
And, mixed with farthest sky, the blue and boundless main.
Hark, sweetly pealing in the arch of heaven,
The mingled music of the Sabbath bells;
A tide of varying harmony is driven,
In gentle wavelets, over streams and dells:
Now 'tis a melting cadence—now it swells
Full, rich, and joyous on the enamoured ear;
While, through the wondrous halls where Memory dwells,
A thousand visions of the past career,
thousand joys and griefs in dreamy forms appear.
Now are the temples of a hundred creeds
Thronging with worshippers, where we may trace
Men known to fame by good or evil deeds,
As multiform in feeling as in face:
There Pomp is seated in his pride of place,
Cushioned, and carpeted, and curtained round;
There humbler Piety, with modest grace,
Lists to the blessed Word's consoling sound,
Or breathes, subdued and low, her orisons profound.
There was a time—(two thousand shadowy years
Have swept, since then, o'er earth's still changing ball)—
When Christ, the Man of Sorrows and of tears,
Came to redeem our great primeval fall;
And as he preached life, love, and truth to all—
A blessed lore which cannot be defiled—
Rude men and sinful gathered at his call,
Won by the healing words, the aspect mild,—
Of God in human mould, yet humble as a child!
Mournful and meek, yet dignified, he came
Before stern Pilate's judgment seat, to hear
The Jewish hatred cast upon his name,
Yet breathed no murmur of reproach or fear:
Though smit by hands, he shed compassion's tear,—
Bore on his brow the blood-extorting wreath,
And having made the way of mercy clear,
Spent on the painful cross his latest breath,
To save the human race from everlasting death.
Then Paul arose, the chosen of the Lord,
To nurse the seeds which Christ himself had sown;
To spread the living spirit of the Word
To hearts unborn, to lands as yet unknown:
With simple majesty and earnest tone,
He taught admiring multitudes to love;
His lips dropped manna, while his features shone
With holy light, reflected from above,
And God within his soul sat brooding like a dove.
Let memory turn some fleeting ages back,
When Christian martyrs, with a wondrous power,
Defied the stake, the dungeon, and the rack,
Though human gore was scattered like a shower:
What could sustain them in the trying hour,
But some bright hope unrealized below,—
Some strong conviction—some expected dower
Of peace and joy beyond this world of woe,—
Some mystery concealed which they had yearned to know?
How calmly, boldly, on their native sod,
Girt with their native hills, sublime and high,
Did Scotland's Covenanters worship God,
Bible in hand, and sword upon the thigh!
Did not the bones of murdered thousands lie
In Alpine hollows of Helvetia's land,
Because they had resolved to live and die
A sternly faithful and religious band,
And fight against the sway of Persecution's hand?
Oh! these are great examples to admire,—
Deeds of the soul's devotion, which surpass
Those of the conqueror; the poet's lyre
Sings them in words outliving stone and brass:
But in our own enlightened days, alas!
Men unto pride and custom bow the knee;
The laboured sermon, and the gorgeous mass,
With idle pageantry, are things that be,—
Eternal One of Heaven! how all unworthy thee!
Still we must own that there are some, in sooth,
To God devoted, and to man sincere;
Some whose calm souls are yearning after truth,
With all that holy hope which knows no fear;
Some who have ministered to virtue here,
Soothed the despairing, succoured the distressed,—
Breathed consolation in the mourner's ear,
And plucked the weed of sorrow from the breast,—
Swayed by the law of Love, the noblest, purest, best!
Oh God! my only hope of bliss above!
Soul of all being, human and divine!
Source of all wisdom! Fountain of all love!
Oh, let thy light around my footsteps shine!
Oh, teach my stubborn spirit to resign
Pride, passion, lust, and every vicious art!
Oh, make me truly and securely Thine!
Give me a lowly purity of heart,
That I may understand and choose the better part!
Down from the breezy summits of the hills
I turn my lingering footsteps, and descend
A rugged pathway, where a thousand rills
All freshly, brightly, musically blend
Their ever-twinkling waters: now I wend
Along the streamlet's desultory wave,
To reach yon gothic fane, where those attend
Who feign or feel that they have souls to save,
Looking for deathless life beyond the secret grave.
I stand within the walls, whose roof is spread
In the vain strength of architectural might;
Emblazoned banners droop above my head—
Rich windows glow with many-coloured light;
Altar and shrine are gorgeously bedight
With costly ornament of dazzling sheen;
Proud tombs and cenotaphs the gaze invite,
Recording virtues which have never been;
(Thus self-exalted, man forgets his God, I ween.)
The voice of psalms ascends the slumbering air,—
With sweet but stormy breath the organ blows;
The pastor reads the well-remembered prayer,
While murmuring lips respond to every close:
Now comes the brief discourse,—perchance it flows
With less of fervent feeling than of art;
Perchance it lulls some bearer to repose,—
Perchance it trembles in some human heart:
Now hymn and service done, shepherd and flock depart.
Through pleasant fields, green lanes, and forest glooms,
Back to their humble homes the rustics go;
Save those who linger in the place of tombs,
Musing and mourning o'er the dead below:
There droops the widow in her weeds of woe,
Whose joys lie buried with the lifeless one;
The orphan, too, is there, whose tears o'erflow
For some kind sire or tender mother gone;
There's comfort in their grief, oh, let their tears flow on!
Now the glad sun from his ethereal throne,
Rains down the mid-day glory of his beams;
The skies sweep round me like an azure zone,—
Rolling in light the far off ocean gleams;
The hills are clothed with splendour, and the streams
Flash with a quivering radiance here and there;
Earth slumbers in the depth of summer dreams;
Mysterious murmurs stir the sultry air,
As if all Nature's breast throbbed with unuttered prayer.
My heart's religion is an earnest love
Of all that's good, and beautiful, and true!—
My noblest temple is this sky above—
This vast pavilion of unclouded blue:
These mountains are my altars, which subdue
My wildest passions in their wildest hours;
My hymn is ever many-voiced and new,—
From bird and bee, from wind and wave it pours;
My incense is the breath of herbs, leaves, fruits, and flowers.
Here Health and Piety, twin angels, shed
The healing influence of their hallowed wings;
Here joyous Freedom hovers round my head,
And young Hope whispers of immortal things;
Here lavish Music, dainty Ariel, flings
Mellifluous melody on every hand;
Here mild and many-featured Beauty brings
Dim visions of that undiscovered land,
Where the unshackled soul shall boundlessly expand.
Man cannot stand beneath a loftier dome
Than this cerulean canopy of light—
The ETERNAL'S vast, immeasurable home,
Lovely by day, and wonderful by night!
Than this enamelled floor, so greenly bright,
A richer pavement man hath never trod;
He cannot gaze upon a holier sight
Than fleeting cloud, fresh wave, and fruitful sod—
Leaves of that boundless Book writ by the hand of God!
Here let me rest, within this quiet scene—
This sylvan, shady, and secluded dell;
Where herb and leaf put on a chaster green,
And free-winged choristers in concert dwell;
Where daisies and the king-cup's golden bell
Smile like a noon-day star-light on the ground;
And airy Echo, from her secret cell,
In mimic tones replies to every sound,
As if some fairy court held jubilee around.
A streamlet from the hills is purling near,
With an unceasing and melodious flow;
Whose twinkling waves, cool, crystalline, and clear,
Through pleasant spots a mazy journey go;
Athwart its face glad wings flit to and fro,
Like bright thoughts glancing through a mind at rest;
Flowers of all hues along its margin grow,
Like those affections blooming in the breast,
Which grace the path of life, and make man's lot more blest.
Here let me spend the peaceful passive hour,
Girt with the solemn majesty of trees,
Whose hardy stems defy the tempest's power,
Whose light leaves tremble on the faintest breeze;—
Here let me rest in meditative ease,
Half hidden in the soft luxuriant grass,
And wake those sweet imaginings that please
The tranquil soul, those phantom forms that pass,
Like unforgotten dreams, o'er memory's magic glass.
I lay me down upon the verdant slope,
Gazing around me with a loving eye;
Where waving branches form a leafy cope,
Yielding bright glimpses of the summer sky:
The west wind greets me with a balmy sigh,
Rich with the rifled odours of the rose—
The honey-laden bee is murmuring nigh—
The wood dove's voice with mournful murmur flows,
And every ruder thought is cradled to repose.
Now Fancy wafts me to that golden age,
Which blessed our fathers in the days of yore;
Whose semblance lingers on the poet's page,
And in the prophet's visionary lore:
Perchance some future age may yet restore
The lost reality, more pure and bright,
When man shall walk with Nature, to adore
The God of love, of loveliness, and light,
And truth shall teach his heart to worship Him aright.
Blest age of guiltless joy and cloudless truth!
Undimmed by human care, by human crime,—
When earth was in the gladness of her youth,
And man was in the glory of his prime!
Delicious lapse of golden-winged time!
Thou dost not smile upon us now, as when
Angelic visitants, with port sublime,
Became familiar unto mortal ken,
And even gods came down among the sons of men!
The fabled charms which to thy name belong,
Inspire the patriot's earnest prayer; they lend
A living music to the poet's song,
And with the prophet's dreamy future blend.
Alas! that evil destiny should end
Thy peaceful reign! Thy patriarchal race—
Gone, like the spirit of a joyous friend—
Gone, like a melody that leaves no trace,
Or like a shattered star swept from the realms of space!
With thee the earth was ever rich and fair;
No summer scorched, no winter chilled her breast;
Nor storm, nor dearth, nor pestilence, were there,
To break the holy quiet of her rest;
Eternal spring, with constant beauty dressed,
Walked in a paradise of buds and flowers;
Eternal autumn, with abundance blest,
Smiled on the fields, and blushed upon the bowers,
Fed by a genial sun and fertilizing showers.
The world was one Arcadian realm, and rife
With graceful shape, soft tint, and pleasing sound;
Unwet by sorrow's tears, unstained by strife,
An Eden bloomed on every spot of ground:
Mankind, a mighty brotherhood, were bound
By the strong ties of Charity and Truth:
With equal hand spontaneous Plenty crowned
The universal feast; no care, no ruth
Furrowed the brow of Age, nor dimmed the eye of Youth.
On aromatic leaves, with tranquil dreams,
They slept the shadows of the night away:
'Mid sunny mountains and rejoicing streams,
They watched and wandered with their flocks by day;
Down the deep valleys they were wont to stray,
Where yet a savage foot had never trod,
To glorify their Maker, and to pray;
Making the green and ever-flowery sod,
Which blessed them with its fruits, the altar of their God!
Fair woman then was guileless as the dove,
And pure and buoyant as a spring-tide morn;
The roses scattered on her path of love—
Happy for her!—were yet without a thorn:
With wild flowers—like herself, in beauty born,
And fed with dew in many a pleasant place—
She stood, her flowing tresses to adorn,
Beside the waters, whose unruffled face
Gave to her eager glance a form of perfect grace.
She knew that she was lovely, but her charms
Were never wed to meretricious art;
One worthy object filled her tender arms,
Whose constant image slumbered in her heart,
Blest in her choice, she never felt the smart
Of man's neglect, or passion's dark annoy;
She filled the maiden's and the matron's part,
With firmness, fondness, modesty, and joy,—
Virtue her only thought, and love her sole employ.
Peace, Virtue, Wisdom, Liberty, and Health,
Knew no decay beneath thy genial reign;
Then love was power, and happiness was wealth,
To the chaste damsel and the faithful swain:
Hate, Passion, Lust, Ambition, Falsehood, Gain,
Pride and Oppression, Poverty and Wrong,
Crime and Remorse, Disease, Despair, and Pain—
A dark and unextinguishable throng—
Were evils yet unknown to story or to song!
As yet gigantic Commerce had not built
Cities, and towers, and palaces of pride—
Those vast abodes of wretchedness and guilt,
Where Wealth and Indigence stand side by side;
Man had not ventured o'er the waters wide,
To deal in human thraldom, nor unrolled
His hostile banner to the breeze, nor dyed
His selfish hands in kindred blood, nor sold
The joys of Earth and Heaven, for thrice-accursed gold!
Man lived as love inspired, till mellow age
Brought his frail footsteps nearer to the tomb;
Prepared to stand upon a higher stage,
He had no fears to wrap his soul in gloom;
His fancy pictured no terrific doom
Of endless agony, for sins unknown,—
But gardens of imperishable bloom,
And forms and faces like unto his own,
All radiant with the light of God's eternal throne!
His youth was like the summer's morning hour,
Fresh, free, and buoyant, laughing and sincere;
His manhood, like the summer's noon-tide power,
Strong, deep, intense, warm, glorious, and clear;
His age like summer's eve, whose skies appear
Filled with a softer and serener light;
And when his day went down, and Death drew near;
To shroud him in the shadows of his night,
but to rise again with everlasting light!
Transcendent Fiction! though we cannot find
That aught so beautiful hath ever been;
Though thou art but a vision of the mind,
Fancied but felt not,—sought for but unseen;
Yet hope is with us,—let us strive to wean
Our hearts from selfish influences, and go
Together in the fields of truth, and glean
All it behoves the hungry soul to know,
Creating for ourselves a Paradise below.
Farewell, my pleasant dream! The sinking sun
Is burning in the bosom of the west;
The joyous lark, whose vesper-hymn is done,
Folds his light pinions to his weary breast;
The clamorous rook is hovering round his nest—
The thrush sits silent on the thorny spray—
The nectar-gathering bee is gone to rest—
The lonely cuckoo chants a lingering lay;
While I, with careless feet, go loitering on my way.
The sun, now resting on the mountain's head,
Flings rosy radiance o'er the smiling land;
Around his track gigantic clouds are spread,
Like the creation of some wizard hand:
Now they assume new shapes, wild, strange, and grand,
Touched by the breath of eve's ethereal gale:
Like burning cliffs and blazing towers they stand,
Frowning above an emerald-paven vale,
Such as my childhood found in fancy's fairy tale.
Now they are scattered o'er the quiet sky,
Like those fair isles that gem the southern main;
The fragments of a shadowy realm, they lie,
Imprinting space with many a gorgeous stain;
Now they are fading from the boundless plain
Whereon they shed their splendours, as they grew;
Gone is their brief and transitory reign—
Gone is the sun that gave them glory, too,
And heaven, earth, air, and sea, put on a deeper hue.
Sights, sounds, and odours, that surround me here,
Soften and sanctify the evening hour;
The rose-enamoured nightingale is near,
Breathing delicious music in her bower;
Herds low along the vales—young children pour
Their gladsome voices on the tranquil air;
A richer perfume creeps from every flower—
Skies, fields, and waters, Beauty's mantle wear;
Nature's primeval face was not more calmly fair.
Blest hour of Peace, of Poetry, and Love!
Spell-breathing season—care-subduing time!
Dim emanation of a world above,
Hallowed and still, soft, soothing, and sublime!
My heaven-aspiring spirit seems to climb
Nearer to God, whose all-protecting wing
Shadows the universe; my feelings chime
In unison with every holy thing,
That memory can give, or meditation bring!
The voice of Nature is a voice of power,
More eloquent than mortal lips can make;
And even now in this most solemn hour,
She bids my noblest sympathies awake.
Nature! I love all creatures for thy sake,
But chiefly man, who is estranged from thee!
Oh! would that he would turn from strife, and take
Sweet lessons from thy lore, and learn to be
Submissive to thy laws, wise, happy, good, and free!
Now the lone twilight, like a widowed maiden,
Pale, pure, and pensive, steals along the skies;
With dewy tears the sleeping flowers are laden—
The leaves are stirred with spiritual sighs;
The stars are looking down with radiant eyes,
Like hosts of watchful Cherubim, that guard
A wide and weary world; the glow-worm lies,
A living gem upon the grassy sward,
Uncared for and unsought, save by the wandering bard.
Now 'tis the trysting time, when lovers walk
By many a wild and solitary way,
Winging the moments with enraptured talk—
Breaking the silence with some plaintive lay:
Hushed be the tongue that flatters to betray
Confiding Woman in the tender hour;
Sad be the heart that will not own the sway
Of her ennobling, soul-refining power,—
She, of life's stormy wild the only constant flower.
I journey homeward; for the taper's light
Gleams from the scattered dwellings of the poor,
Down the steep valleys, up the mountain's height,
And o'er the barren surface of the moor;
Shadows are round me as I tread the floor
Of balmy breathing fields; my weary feet
Bear me right onward to my cottage door;
I cross my threshold—take my accustomed seat,
And feel, as I have always felt, that home is sweet!
My wife receives me with a quiet smile,
Gentle and kind as wife should ever be;
My joyous little ones press round, the while,
And take their wonted places on my knee:
Now with my chosen friends, sincere and free,
I pass the remnant of the night away;
Temper grave converse with becoming glee—
Wear in my face a heart serenely gay,
And wish that human life were one long Sabbath-day.
Some poet's song inspiring hope and gladness,
Gives to my social joys a sweeter zest;
Some tale of human suffering and sadness
Brings out the deeper feelings of my breast.
Sad for the millions stricken and oppressed,
My cheeks with tears of sympathy impearled,
I urge my little household unto rest,
Till morn her rosy banner hath unfurl'd,
And care shall call me forth to battle with the world.
Blest Sabbath time! on life's tempestuous ocean,
The poor man's only haven of repose—
Oh, thou hast wakened many a sweet emotion,
Since morning's sun upon thy being rose!
Now thou art wearing gently to a close—
Thy starry pinions are prepared for flight—
A dim forgetfulness within me grows—
External things are stealing from my sight—
Good night! departing Sabbath of my soul-good night!