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I've thought, at gentle and ungentle hour, Of many an act and giant shape of power ! Of the old kings with high exacting looks, Sceptered and globed; of eagles on their rocks, With straining feet, and that fierce mouth and drear, Answering the strain with downward drag austere; Of the rich-headed lion, whose huge frown All his great nature, gathering, seems to crown; Of towers on hills, with foreheads out of sight In clouds, or shown us by the thunder's light, Or ghastly prison, that eternally Holds its blind visage out to the lone sea; And of all sunless, subterranean deeps The creature makes, who listens while he sleeps, Avarice; and then of those old earthly cones, That stride, they say, over heroic bones; And those stone heaps Egyptian, whose small doors Look like low dens under precipitous shores; And him, great Memnon, that long sitting by In seeming idleness, with stony eye, Sang at the morning's touch, like poetry; And then of all the fierce and bitter fruit Of the proud planting of a tyrannous foot, Of bruised rights, and flourishing bad men, And virtue wasting heavenwards from a den ;
Brute force, and fury; and the devilish drouth
Of the fool cannon's ever-gaping mouth;
And the bride-widowing sword; and the harsh bray
The sneering trumpet sends across the fray ;
And all which lights the people-thinning star
That selfishness invokes,--the horsed war,
Panting along with many a bloody mane.
I've thought of all this pride, and all this pain,
And all the insolent plenitudes of power,
And I declare, by this most quiet hour,
Which holds in different tasks by the fire-light
Me and my friends here, this delightful night,
That Power itself has not one half the might
Of Gentleness. "T is want to all true wealth;
The uneasy madman's force, to the wise health ;
Blind downward beating, to the eyes that see;
Noise to persuasion, doubt to certainty;
The consciousness of strength in enemies,
Who must be strained upon, or else they rise;
The battle, to the moon, who all the while,
High out of hearing, passes with her smile;
The tempest, trampling in his scanty run,
To the whole globe, that basks about the sun;
Or as all shrieks and clangs, with which a sphere,
Undone and fired, could rake the midnight ear,
Compared with that vast dumbness nature keeps
Throughout her starry deeps,
Most old, and mild, and awful, and unbroken,
Which tells a tale of peace beyond whate'er was spoken.
Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
Not royal in their smells alone,
But in their hue;
Maiden pinks, of odour faint,
Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,
And sweet thyme true;
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry spring-time's harbinger,
With her bells dim;
Oxlips in their cradles growing,
Marigolds on death-beds blowing,
All, dear Nature's children sweet,
Lie 'fore bride and bridegroom's feet,
Blessing their sense!
Not an angel of the air,
Bird melodious or bird fair,
Be absent hence !
The crow, the slanderous cuckoo, nor
The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
Nor chattering pie,
May on our bridehouse perch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly!
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
The Character of a Good Parson.
A PARISH priest was of the pilgrim train ;
An awful, reverend, and religious man,
His eyes diffused a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.
Rich was his soul, though his attire was poor
(As God hath clothed his own ambassador ;)
For such on earth, his blessed Redeemer bore.
Of sixty years he seemed ; and well might last
To sixty more, but that he lived too fast;
Refined himself to soul, to curb the sense,
And made almost a sin of abstinence.
Yet, had his aspect nothing of severe,
But such a face as promised him sincere.
Nothing reserved or sullen was to see :
But sweet regards, and pleasing sanctity :
Mild was his accent, and his action free.
With eloquence innate his tongue was armed ;
Though harsh the precept, yet the people charmed
For, letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky:
And oft with holy hymns he charmed their ears
(A music more melodious than the spheres :)
For David left him, when he went to rest,
His lyre; and after him he sung the best.
He bore his great commission in his look;
But sweetly tempered awe; and softened all he spoke.
He preached the joys of heaven, and pains of hell,
And warned the sinner with becoming zeal ;
But on eternal mercy loved to dwell.
He taught the gospel rather than the law;
And forced himself to drive; but loved to draw.
For fear but freezes minds: but love, like heat,
Exhales the soul sublime, to seek her native seat.
To threats the stubborn sinner oft is hard,
Wrapped in his crimes, against the storm prepared ;
But, when the milder beams of mercy play,
He melts, and throws his cumbrous cloak away.
Lightning and thunder (heaven's artillery)
As harbingers before th' Almighty fly;
Those but proclaim his style, and disappear;
The stiller sound succeeds, and God is there.
The tithes his parish freely paid he took,
But never sued, or cursed with bell or book.
With patience bearing wrong; but offering none;
Since every man is free to love his own.
The country churls, according to their kind,
(Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind,)
The less he sought his offerings, pinched the more,
And praised a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare,
To feed the famished, and to clothe the bare,
For mortified he was to that degree,
A poorer than himself he would not see.