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To give it life and buoyancy,
And powers of such fecundity,
That little thoughts, from embryo,
Came forth and like the fungus grew.
Thus did one straggling thought inspire
The bard with such poetic fire,
That from his ventilated bonnet
Escaped this rare ethereal sonnet:
Through fate's kaleidoscope I see,
That what has been, again may be.
This world is like a dinner pot,
Filled with water boiling hot:
Each atom near the heated sides
Expands, and to the surface glides,
While those which float upon the top,
Are cooled, and to the bottom drop.
But soon they kiss the heated metal,
And soon expand, while from the kettle
Clouds of mist in air ascend,
And so on till the boiling end.
While clouds of mist in air ascend,
And so on till the boiling end.
So on till the boiling end,
And so on till the boiling end.
Nor is the circle yet complete,
Its perimeter does not yet meet.
The air is like an onion formed
Of strata, ever cooled and warmed,
In regions so unequally.
That watery vapor thus set free,
Is soon condensed, soon falls in rain,
But only to be boiled again.
My song had ceased; but my well-tun'd lyre still rung,
As the dying cadence to the passing breeze it flung:
Faintly once more it caught the closing strain,
And trembled with the echo-boiled again.
My song had ceased; the cypress gravely bent
His leaf-crowned head, in token of assent;
The cedars nodded, but the giant oak
In silent awe stood motionless, as broke
From many a deep ravine and rocky dell,
The deathless theme my lyre had learned so well;-
Till every string, now wakening to the strain,
Murmured as died the echo-boil'd again.
The winds were sighing softly through the trees,
As though they had conspired to raise a breeze,
Among some distant clouds, that lowering, hung
Above the mountain peaks that tow’ring flung
Their long dark shadows o'er the grassy plain,
That lengthen'd as the fading moonlight waned.
Amazed I stood, and bent my listening ear
To catch the last faint sound that lingered near,
When, horrible to tell! from some lone dell,
Broke on the midnight air a fiercer yell,
Than ever burst from Satan's marshal'd hosts,
E'en when through space they scourg'd the shiv'ring ghosts.
With knotted chords of fire, full of stings,
With twisted tails of comets, and other things.
As when from thundering Etna burts on high
A flood of liquid fire to the sky,
Piercing its sable shroud with fury driven,
As if the burning shaft were aimed at heaven,
To vent the rage that long had been repressed,
Deep beneath old ocean's heaving breast.
So rose this tide of sound to upper air,
And with the spirits of song who hover there,
Claimed equal fellowship by right of birth,
Since all are creatures of the bards of earth.
Prepost'rous claim! most impudent! as well
Might some infectious, foul and putrid smell,
Reeking from the pest-house, breathing death
On all who feel its pestilential breath,
Claim sweet communion with those spices rare,
That, dewy wing'd, float on the ev'ning air
From many a Persian bower, where hand in hand,
The cinnamon and jessamine sighing, stand
Like lovers, side by side, while at their feet,
On beds of silken moss, sleep violets sweet.
Nor was I at a loss to guess the source
From whence arose a laugh, so crack'd and coarse,
A scream so strange and wild that night drew back,
And made the long deep shadow still more black.
The hills once more reëchoed with the sound,
The giant oak, with awe no less profound,
Stood motionless: the lofty cedars bow'd,
And e'en my lyre in concert breathed aloud,
In unison with echo's fickle voice,
That may alike with asses and poets rejoice.
With sick disgust I turned, and soon retraced
The path that led to so unhallowed a place:
But breathing at every step a malediction
On my long-eared competitor-sore affliction!
To see my star of hope so soon eclipsed,
To find the cup of joy dashed from my lips,
Ere from its sparkling brim I scarce had quaffed
One drop of its intoxicating draught.
To hear the voice of praise so soon retire,
To feel my bosom heave with mad'ning ire,
To snuff the breeze of favor but to find
It ever changing, fickle as the wind.
Nay more: the fates had never haply crowned
My efforts with success, but ever frowned,-
And frowning, turned away contemptuously;
Aye, sometimes cursed the half fledg'd progeny,
That patience with assiduous care had brought,
And nurtured from the overa of thought.
Mysterious fate! in what portentous cloud
That rose at life's first dawn didst thou enshroud
Forever (in silent gloom my destiny,
And shall this cloud forever obscure life's day?
Shall evening gather o'er me when I'm old,
With all its dusky shadows drear and cold,
And not one star to light my lonely way
Upon the unknown deep of Eternity?
Shall age come tott'ring on with feeble tread,
With furrowed brow, with bow'd and hoary head,
And the dim eye turn once more to view the past,
And the heart grow sick and faint, as the chilling blast
Of disappointment sweeps o'er the sadden'd soul,
When memory fain would die, shall I be old?
Shall youth go forth uncheck'd 'mid the frowns of Heaven,
Unblessed by those who should have counsel given,
Unloved, unwept, by those who should have known
How the young soul lives in affection's tone?
And can the world, with all its pomp and pride,
Its cold and hollow hearts, fill up this void?
My boyhood dreams are past! their visions fled!
And the brightest flowers of hope are crushed and dead.
The thunder's voice, and the wild bleak wind that moans
Through the forests deep, are to me affection's tones.
Ah, yes; e'en now yon ocean's beating surge
Hath hollowed my grave, and sung my funeral dirge;
And on my ear hath died the passing knell,—
Rocks, mountains, streams, and home, farewell! farewell!
Farewell! the echo cried, as the dark sea spread
Its troubled waters o'er my aching head:
And the wild waves moaned, as their sparkling crest I clave,
A requiem o'er the heart-sick poet's grave.
Strange sights: strange sounds; the world seemed all on
A comet's torch had lit the parched air,
Nor would the bold intruder e'er retire,
Till he had scorched each false philosopher.
The stars like meteors fell from the flaming sky,
And hissing, seemed to lick the ocean dry.
Old night, affrighted, spread her sable wings,
Unable to behold such dreadful things.
Centuries passed; the seasons went and came,
Nor did the earth e'er vegetate again.
The conflagration o'er, grim night returned,
Save where volcanic fires dimly burn'd;
And hovering, brooded darkly over earth,
The same chaotic mass that gave her birth.
Silence once more returned, with all her brood
Of timid nymphs, to earth's vast solitude.
And now the question rose, is this a dream?
Or are these things now what they really seem?
And as I thought, returning reason spoke,
And I once more to consciousness awoke.
When, lo! to my surprise, my tortured brain
Had pictured for a dark, deep sea, a field of grain.
And from a wall of stone about four feet high,
I had headlong plunged in a field of waving rye.
The screech-owl laughed outright, as the braying ass
Proclaimed the poet's drowned. Alas! alas!
False echo caught the lie ere it had died,
And with a thousand tongues the rocks replied.
Till e'en my lyre, deserted on the grass,
Murmured with regret, alas! alas!
Strange fate, thought I, the circle did not meet,
The boiling process is not yet complete.
The numbered sands of life had not run out;
The die was not yet cast; the fates, no doubt,
Have yet reserved for me a loftier theme,
Than ever circled in a Dante's dream.
A nobler end is mine: the smallest rock,
Dropped in the sea, communicates a shock
To every inert atom, from side to side
Extends its bounds and elevates the tide.
The ugliest toad that nature e'er gave birth,
Need only hop to move this pondrous earth.
And may not I some magic lever find,
Of modern workmanship, to move mankind?
The smallest mountain stream that winds along
Through deepest solitude, mingling its song