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If to spurn at noble praise
Be the passport to thy heaven, Follow thou those gloomy ways —
No such law to me was given; Nor. I trust, shall I deplore me, Faring like my friends before me; Nor an holier place desire Than Timoleon's arms acquire, And Tully's curule chair, and Milton's golden lyre.
[From Pleasures of the Imagination.]
THE DEVELOPMENT OF POETIC AND ARTISTIC CRE ATI OXS.
By these mysterious ties, the busy power
Of memory her ideal train preserves Entire; or when they would elude
her watch, Reclaims their fleeting footsteps
from the waste Of dark oblivion; thus collecting all The various forms of being, to present Before the curious eye of mimic art Their largest choice: like Spring's
unfolded blooms Exhaling sweetness, that the skilful
May taste at will from their selected spoils
To work her dulcet food. For not
the expanse Of living lakes in summer's noontide
Reflects the bordering shade and sunbright heavens
With fairer semblance; not the sculptured gold
More faithful keeps the graver's lively trace,
Than he whose birth the sisterpowers of art
Propitious viewed, and from his super star
Shed influence to the seeds of fancy kind,
Than his attempered bosom must preserve
The seal of nature. There alone, unchanged
Her form remains. The balmy walks of May
There breathe perennial sweets: the
trembling chord Resounds forever in the abstracted
Melodious; and the virgin's radiant
Superior to disease, to grief, and time, Shines with unbating lustre. Thus
at length Endowed with all that nature can
The child of fancy oft in silence bends
O'er these mixed treasures of his pregnant breast
With conscious pride. From them he oft resolves
To frame he knows not what excelling things.
And win he knows not what sublime reward
Of praise and wonder. By degrees
the mind feels her young nerves dilate: the
plastic powers Labor for action: blind emotions
His bosom; and with loveliest frenzy caught,
From earth to heaven he rolls his
daring eye, From heaven to earth. Anon ten
thousand shapes, Like spectres trooping to the wizard's call, Flit swift before him. From the
womb of earth, From ocean's bed they come: the
eternal heavens Disclose their splendors, and the
dark abyss Pours out her births unknown.
With fixed gaze He marks the rising phantoms. Now
compares Their different forms; now blends
them, now divides; Enlarges and extenuates by turns; Opposes, ranges in fantastic bands, And infinitely varies. Hither now, Now thither fluctuates his inconstant
With endless choice perplexed. At
length his plan Begins to open. Lucid order dawns; And as from Chaos old the jarring
Of nature at the voice divine repaired Each to its place, till rosy earth unveiled
Her fragrant bosom, and the joyful sun
Sprung up the blue serene; by swift degrees
Thus disentangled, his entire design Emerges. Colors mingle, features join,
And lines converge: the fainter parts retire;
The fairer eminent in light advance; And every image on its neighbor smiles.
Awhile he stands, and with a father's joy
Contemplates. Then with Promethean art Into its proper vehicle he breathes The fair conception which, embodied thus,
And permanent, becomes to eyes or ears
An object ascertained: while thus
informed, The various objects of his mimic
The consonance of sounds, the featured rock.
The shadowy picture, and impassioned verse,
Beyond their proper powers attract the soul
By that expressive semblance, while in sight
Of nature's great original we scan The lively child of art; while line by line,
And feature after feature, we refer To that divine exemplar whence it stole
Those animating charms. Thus beauty's palm
Betwixt them wavering hangs: applauding love
Doubts where to choose; and mortal man aspires
To tempt creative praise.
[From Pleasures of the Imagination,]
What though not all Of mortal offspring can attain the heights
Of envied life; though only few possess
Patrician treasures or imperial state; Yet nature's care, to all her children just,
With richer treasures and an ampler state.
Endows, at large, whatever happy man Will deign to use them. His the
city's pomp, The rural honors his. Whate'er
The princely dome, the column and the arch,
The breathing marbles and the
sculptured gold, Beyond the proud possessor's narrow
His tuneful breast enjoys. For him,
the Spring Distils her dews, and from the silken
Its lucid leaves unfolds: for him, the hand
Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold, and blushes like
the morn. Each passing hour sheds tribute from
her wings; And still new beauties meet his
lonely walk, And loves unfelt attract him. Not a
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain
From all the tenants of the warbling shade
Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake
Fresh pleasure unreproved. Nor
thence partakes Fresh pleasure only: forth' attentive
By this harmonious action on her powers,
becomes herself harmonious: wont so oft
In outward things to meditate the charm
Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home
To find a kindred order to exert Within herself this elegance of love, This fair inspired delight: her tem
per'd powers Refine at length, and every passion
A chaster, milder, more attractive mien.
[From Pleasures of the Imagination.]
Thus doth beauty dwell There most conspicuous, e'en in outward shape. Where dawns the high expression of a mind:
By steps conducting our enraptured search
To that eternal origin, whose power, Through all th' unbounded symmetry of things, Like rays effulging from the parent sun,
This endless mixture of her charms diffused.
Mii:.1, mind alone, — bear witness, earth and heaven! —
The living fountains in itself contains
Of beautcow, and sublime: here, hand in hand,
Sit paramount the graces; here enthroned,
Celestial Venus, with divinest airs, Invites the soul to never-fading joy.
[From Pleasures of the Imagination.]
ASPIRATIONS AFTER THE INFINITE.
Say, why was man so eminently raised
Amid the vast creation; why ordain'd Through life and death to dart his piercing eye,
With thoughts beyond the limit of
his frame; But that th' Omnipotent might send
him forth In sight of mortal and immortal
As on a boundless theatre, to run The great career of justice; to exalt His generous aim to all diviner deeds; To chase each partial purpose from
his breast, And through the mists of passion and
And through the tossing tide of
chance and pain, To hold his course unfaltering, while
Of truth and virtue, up the steep ascent
Of nature, calls him to his high reward,
Th' applauding smile of heaven?
Else wherefore burns In mortal bosoms this unquenched
That breathes from day to day sub
limer things, And mocks possession? wherefore
darts the mind, With such resistless ardor, to embrace Majestic forms; impatient to be free: Spurning the gross control of wilful
Proud of the strong contention of
her toils; Proud to be daring?
For from the birth Of mortal man, the sovereign Maker said,
That not in humble nor in brief delight,
Not in the fading echoes of renown,
Power's purple robes, nor pleasure's flowery lap,
The soul should find enjoyment: but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good,
Through all th' ascent of things enlarge her view,
Till every bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene.
The lily swung its noiseless bell,
Arid o'er the porch the trembling vine
Seemed bursting with its veins of
How sweetly, softly, twilight fell!
O Babie, dainty Babie Bell, How fair she grew from day to day!
What woman-nature filled her eyes, What poetry within them lay: Those deep and tender twilight eyes,
So full of meaning, pure and bright
As if she yet stood in the light Of those oped gates of Paradise. And so we loved her more and more; Ah, never in our hearts before
Was love so lovely born. We felt we had a link between This real world and that unseen, —
The land beyond the morn. And for the love of those dear eyes, For love of her whom God led forth, (The mother's being ceased on earth When Babie came from Paradise,) — For love of Him who smote our lives, And woke the chords of joy and pain.
We said, Dear Christ!—Our hearts bent down Like violets after rain.
And now the orchards, which were white
And red with blossoms when she came,
Were rich in autumn's mellow prime:
The clustered apples burnt like flame,
The soft-cheeked peaches blushed and fell,
The ivory chestnut burst its shell, The grapes hung purpling in the grange:
And time wrought just as rich a change
In little Babie Bell.
Her lissome form more perfect grew, And in her features we could trace,
In softened curves, her mother's face!
Her angel-nature ripened too. We thought her lovely when she came,
But she was holy, saintly now; Around her pale angelic brow We saw a slender ring of flame!
God's hand had taken away the seal, That held the portals of her speech;
And oft she said a few strange words Whose meaning lay beyond our reach.
She never was a child to us,
It came upon us by degrees:
And all our hopes were changed to fears,
And all our thoughts ran into tears
At last he came, the messenger,
And what did dainty Babie Bell?
She only looked more meek and fair!
We parted back her silken hair:
Wrapt her from head to foot in Flowers!
And thus went dainty Babie Bell