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Looked down, half-pleased, half-frightened, As dashed about the drunken leaves
The random sunshine lightened !
O, nature first was fresh to men,
And wanton without measure; So youthful and so flexile then,
You moved her at your pleasure. Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs !
And make her dance attendance: Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs,
And scirrhous roots and tendons.
'Tis vain! in such a brassy age
I could not move a thistle;
Scarce answer to my whistle;
With strumming and with scraping,
The passive oxen gaping.
But what is that I hear ? a sound
Like sleepy counsel pleading:
The modern Muses reading.
And Works on Gardening through there, And Methods of transplanting trees,
To look as if they grew there.
The withered Misses ! how they prose
O'er books of travelled seamen, And show you slips of all that grows
From England to Van Diemen.
And alleys, faded places,
And warmed in crystal cases.
But these, though fed with careful dirt,
Are neither green nor sappy; Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
The spindlings look unhappy. Better to me the meanest weed
That blows upon its mountain, The vilest herb that runs to seed
Beside its native fountain.
And I must work through months of toil,
And years of cultivation, Upon my proper patch of soil,
To grow my own plantation. I'll take the showers as they fall,
I will not vex my bosom: Enough, if at the end of all
A little garden blossom.
ST. AGNES' E VE.
DEEP on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon :
May my soul follow soon!
Slant down the snowy sward,
That lead me to my Lord:
As are the frosty skies,
That in my bosom lies.
As these white robes are soiled and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
My spirit before Thee;
To that I hope to be.
Through all yon starlight keen, Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.
He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
And strews her lights below,
Roll back, and far within For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin. The sabbaths of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wideA light upon the shining sea
The Bridegroom with his bride!
My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
Because my heart is pure.
The hard brands shiver on the steel, The splintered spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
And when the tide of combat stands, Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.
How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favors fall ! For them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall : But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bowed in crypt and shrine: I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
Me mightier transports move and thrill; So keep I fair through faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.
When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
I hear a noise of hymns:
I hear a voice, but none are there;
The tapers burning fair.
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
And solemn chants resound between.
Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I float till all is dark.
Three angels bear the holy Grail :
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
And star-light mingles with the stars.
When on my goodly charger borne
Through dreaming towns I go,
The streets are dumb with snow.
And, ringing, spins from brand and mail; But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.
A maiden knight-to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
That often meet me here.
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Whose odors haunt my dreams; And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armor that I wear, This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touched, are turned to finest air.
The clouds are broken in the sky,
And through the mountain-walls A rolling organ-harmony