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THE RELIGION OF TASTE.

'Twas one of summer's last and loveliest days,
When at the dawn, with a congenial friend
I rose to climb the mount, that with the gaze
Of expectation high we long had kenn’d,
While travelling toward it as our journey's end :
Height after height we reach'd that seem'd the last ;
But far above, where we must yet ascend,

Another and another rose, till fast
The sun began to sink ere all but one were past.

Upon that loftiest one awhile we stood
Silent with wonder and absorbing awe;
A thousand peaks, the lowest crown'd with wood,
The highest of bare rock at once we saw,
In ranges spread till seeming to withdraw
Far into heaven, and mix their softer blue;
While ranges near, as if in spite of law,

With all wild shapes and grand fill’d up the view And o'er the deep dark gulf fantastic shadows threw.

Here billows heaved in one vast swell, and there
In one long sweep, as on a stormy sea,
Drawn to a curling edge, seem'd held in air,
Ready to move as from a charm set free,
And roar, and dash, and sink, and cease to be;
While firm and smooth as hewn of emerald rock,
Below them rose to points of one proud tree,

Green pyramids of pine, that seem'd to mock
In conscious safety proud, their vainly threaten'd shock.

Here while the sun yet shone, abysses vast
Like openings into inner regions seem'd
All objects fading, mingling, sinking fast,
Save few that shut up where the sun yet beam’d;
But soon as his last rays around us stream'd
Thick darkness wrapt the whole, o'er which the glow
Of western skies in feeble flashes gleam'd,
While bright from pole to pole extending slow
Along the wide horizon ere it sunk below.

'Twas midnight, when from our sequester'd bower
I stole with sleepless eyes to gaze alone ;
For 't is alone we feel in its full power,

11*

VOL. III.

The enchantment o'er a scene so awful thrown:
Through broken flying clouds the moon now shone,
And light and shade cross'd mountain-top and vale;
While with imparted motion, not their own,

The heavens and earth to fancy seem'd to sail
Through boundless space like her creation bright but frail.

Ere long the clouds were gone, the moon was set;
When deeply blue without a shade of gray,
The sky was filld with stars that almost met,
Their points prolong'd and sharpen’d to one ray ;
Through their transparent air the milky-way
Seem'd one broad flame of pure resplendent white,
As if some globe on fire, turn'd far astray,

Had crossd the wide arch with so swift a flight,
That for a moment shone its whole long track of light.

At length in northern skies, at first but small,
A sheet of light meteorous begun
To spread on either hand, and rise and fall
In waves, that slowly first, then quickly run
Along its edge, set thick but one by one
With spiry beams, that all at once shot high,
Like those through vapors from the setting sun;

Then sidelong as before the wind they fly,
Like streaking rain from clouds that flit along the sky.

Now all the mountain-tops and gulfs between
Seem'd one dark plain; from forests, caves profound,
And rushing waters far below unseen,
Rose a deep roar in one united sound,
Alike pervading all the air around,
And seeming e'en the azure dome to fill,
And from it through soft ether to resound

In low vibrations, sending a sweet thrill
To every finger's end from rapture deep and still.

Spent with emotion, and to rest resign'd,
A sudden sleep fell on me, and subdued
With visions bright and dread my restless mind ;-
Methought that in a realm of solitude,
All indistinctly like the one just view'd,
With guilt oppress'd and with foreboding gloom,
My lonely way bewilder'd I pursued,

Mid signs of terror that the day of doom,
And lovely nature's last dissolving hour had come.

The sun and moon in depths of ether sunk
Till half extinct, shed their opposing light
In dismal union, at which all things shrunk ;-
Anon they both, like meteors streaming bright,
Ran down the sky and vanished-all was night;
With that a groan as from earth's centre rose,
While o’er its surface ran, o'er vale and height,

A waving as of woods when wild wind blows,
A heaving as of life in its expiring throes.

Far in the broad horizon dimly shone
A flood of fire, advancing with a roar,
Like that of ocean when the waves are thrown
In nightly storms high on a rocky shore ;-
Spreading each way it came, and sweeping o'er
Woodlands like stubble, forests wide and tall
In thick ranks falling, blooming groves before

Its fury vanishing too soon to fall,
And mountains melting down-one deluge covering all,

Before it, striking quick from cloud to cloud,
Stream'd its unearthly light along the sky,
Flashing from all the swift wings of a crowd
Of frighted birds at random soaring high,
And from the faces of lost men that fly
In throngs beneath, as back they snatch'd a look
Of horror at the billows rolling nigh,

With thundering sound at which all nature shook,
And e'en the strength of hope their sinking hearts forsook.

No more I saw, for while I thought to flee,
What seem'd the swoon of terror held me fast,
My senses drowned, and set my fancy free,
Waked not, but back to sleep unconscious cast
My troubled spirit; one dark moment pass’d,
And, all revived again, my dream went on;
But in that interval what changes vast!

The earth and its lost multitudes were gone;
A new creation bless'd eternity's bright dawn.

Myself I found borne to a heavenly clime
I knew not how, but felt a stranger there;
Still the same being that I was in time,
E’en to my raiment ; on the borders fair
Of that blest land I stood in lone despair;
Not its pure beauty and immortal bloom,

Its firmament serene and balmy air,

Nor all its glorious beings, broke the gloom Of my foreboding thoughts, fix’d on some dreadful doom.

There walk'd the ransom'd ones of earth in white,
As beautifully pure as new-fallen snow,
On the smooth summit of some eastern height,
In the first rays of morn that o'er it flow,
Nor less resplendent than the richest glow
Of snow-white clouds, with all their stores of rain
And thunder spent, roll'd up in volumes slow

O'er the blue sky just cleard from every stain,
Till all the blaze of noon they drink and long retain.

Safe landed on these shores, together hence That bright throng took their way to where insphered In a transparent cloud of light intense, With starry pinnacles above it reared, A city vast, the inland all appear’d, With walls of azure, green and purple stone, All to one glassy surface smooth'd and cleard, Reflecting forms of angel guards that shone Above the approaching host as each were on a throne.

And while that host moved onward o'er a plain
Of living verdure, oft they turn'd to greet
Friends that on earth had taught them heaven to gain ;
Then hand in hand they went with quicken'd feet;
And bright with immortality, and sweet
With love ethereal, were the smiles they cast;
I only wander'd on with none to meet

And call me dear, while pointing to the past,
And forward to the joys that never reach their last.

I had not bound myself by any ties
To that bless'd land; none saw me and none sought;
Nor any shunn'd, or from me turn'd their eyes;
And yet such sense of guilt and conscience wrought,
It seem'd that every bosom's inmost thought
Was fix'd on me; when back as from their view
I shrunk, and would have fled or shrunk to nought,

As some I loved and many that I knew
Pass'd on unmindful why or whither I withdrew

Whereat of sad remembrances a flood Rush'd o'er my spirit, and my heart beat low As with the heavy gush of curdling blood :Soon left behind, awhile I follow'd slow, Then stopp'd and round me look’d, my fate to know, But look'd in vain ; -no voice my doom to tell ;No arm to hurl me down the depths of wo;It seem'd that I was brought to heaven to dwell That conscience might alone do all the work of hell.

Now came the thought, the bitter thought of years
Wasted in musings sad and fancies wild,
And in the visionary hopes and fears
Of the false feeling of a heart beguiled
By nature's strange enchantment, strong and wild ;
Now with celestial beauty blooming round,
I stood as on some naked waste exiled;

From gathering hosts came music's swelling sound, But deeper in despair my sinking spirits drown'd.

At length methought a darkness as of death
Came slowly o’er me, and with that I woke;
Yet knew not in the first suspended breath
Where I could be, so real seem'd the stroke,
That in my dream all earthly ties had broke ;
A moment more, and melting in a tide
Of grateful fervor, how did I invoke

Power from the Highest to leave all beside,
And live but to secure the bliss my dream denied.

The day soon dawn'd, and I could not but view
Its purple tinge in heaven, and then its beams
Revealing all around me, as they few
From peak to peak, and striking in soft gleams
On the white mists that hung o'er winding streams
Through trackless forests, and o'er clustering lakes
In valleys wide, where many a green height seems

An isle above the cloud that round it breaks,
As with the breeze it moves and its deep bed forsakes.

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