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VERSES WRITTEN IN THE CHURCHYARD OF
HERBERT KNOWĻES, 1798-1817.
METHINKS it is good to be here,
If thou wilt, let us build—but for whom?
Nor Elias nor Moses appear,
But the shadows of eve that
the gloom, The abode of the dead, and the place of the tomb.
Shall we build to Ambition ? Ah! no:
Affrighted he shrinketh away ;
For see! they would pin him below
To a small narrow cave, and begirt with cold clay,
To the meanest of reptiles a peer
To Beauty ? Ah! no: she forgets
The charms that she wielded before ;
Nor knows the foul worm that he frets
The skin which, but yesterday, fools could adore
For the smoothness it held, or the tint which it wore.
Shall we build to the purple of Pride, The trappings which dizen the proud ?
Alas! they are all laid aside, And here's neither dress nor adornment allowed, But the long winding-sheet and the fringe of the shroud.
To Riches ? Alas ! 'tis in vain,
Who hid, in their turns have been hid;
The treasures are squandered again;
And here in the grave are all metals forbid,
But the tinsel that shone on the dark coffin-lid.
To the pleasures which Mirth can afford,
The revel, the laugh, and the jeer ?
Ah! here is a plentiful board,
But the guests are all mute as their pitiful cheer,
And none but the worm is a reveller here.
Shall we build to Affection and Love?
Ah! no; they have withered and died,
Or fled with the spirit above,-
Friends, brothers, and sisters, are laid side by side,
Yet none have saluted, and none have replied.
Unto Sorrow? The dead cannot grieve,-
Not a sob, not a sigh, meets mine ear
Which compassion itself could relieve;
Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love, or fear;
Peace, peace, is the watchword, the only one here.
Unto Death, to whom monarchs must bow?
Ah! no; for his empire is known,
And here there are trophies enow;
Beneath the cold dead, and around the dark stone,
Are the signs of a sceptre that none may disown.
The first tabernacle to Hope we will build, And look for the sleepers around us to rise;
The second to Faith, which ensures it fulfilld; And the third to the Lamb of the great sacrifice, Who bequeathed us them both when He rose to the skies.
HYMN BEFORE SUNRISE, IN THE VALE OF
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course ? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald, awful head, O sovran Blanc !
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly ; but thou, most awful Form !
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above,
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass : methinks thou piercest it,
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity!
O dread and silent Mount ! I gazed upon thee,
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Didst vanish from my thought : entranc'd in prayer,
I worshipp'd the Invisible alone.
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my thought,
Yea, with my life and life's own secret joy,
Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfus’d
Into the mighty vision passing—there,
As in her natural form, swelld vast to heaven !
Awake, my soul ! not only passive praise
Thou owest ! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks, and secret ecstacy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake !
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my hymn !
Thou first and chief, sole sovran of the Vale !
Oh, struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky, or when they sink :
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald ! wake, oh wake, and utter praise !
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in earth ?
W filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams ?
And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad !
Who call’d you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
For ever shatter'd, and the same for ever ?
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam ?
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest ?
Ye ice-falls ! ye that from the mountain's brow
Adown enormous ravines slope amain-
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
And stopp'd at once amid their maddest plunge !
Motionless torrents ! silent cataracts !
Who made you glorious as the gates of Heaven
Beneath the keen, full moon ? Who bade the sun
Clothe you with rainbows ? Who, with living flowers
Of loveliest hue, spread garlands at your feet ?
God ! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer; and let the ice-plains echo, God !
God ! sing, ye meadow-streams, with gladsome voice !
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds !
And they, too, have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God !
Ye living flowers that skirt th' eternal frost !
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest !
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm !
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds !
Ye signs and wonders of the element :
Utter forth God ! and fill the hills with praise !
Thou too, hoar Mount ! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast-
Thou too, again, stupendous Mountain ! thou,
That, as I raise my head, awhile bow'd low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling, with dim eyes suffus’d with tears,
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
To rise before me,-rise, oh, ever rise,
Rise like a cloud of incense, from the Earth !
Thou kingly spirit, throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
Great Hierarch ! tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.
I COME, I come! ye have called me long,
I come o'er the mountains with light and song ;
Ye may trace my step o'er the wakening earth,
By the winds which tell of the violet's birth,
By the primrose stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass.
I have breathed on the South, and the chestnut-flowers By thousands have burst from the forest-bowers :