And though the lessons they have taught ine seem
Things of the wayside to the practised man,
It is a wisdom by much wandering learn d ;
And if but one young spirit bend its wing
More in the eye of Heaven, because it knew
The erring courses that bewilder d mine,
I have not suffer d nor shall teach in vain.
It is a lesson oftener learn d than loved
All knowledge is not nourishment. The mind
May pine upon its food. In reckless thirst
The scholar sometimes kneels beside the stream
Polluted by the lepers of the mind.
The sceptic, with his doubts of all things good
And faith in all things evil, has been there ;
And, as the stream was mingled, he has strown
The shore with all bright flowers to tempt the eye,
And sloped the banks down gently for the feet ;
And Genius, like a fallen child of light,
Has filPd the place with magic, and compell d
Most beautiful creations into forms
And images of license, and they come
And tempt you with bewildering grace to kneel
And drink of the wild waters ; and behind
Stand the strong Passions, pleading to go in ;
And the approving world looks silent on ;
Till the pleased mind conspires against itself,
And finds a subtle reason why tis good.
We are deceived, though, even as we drink,
We taste the evil. In his sweetest tone
The lying Tempter whispers in our ear,
" Though it may stain, twill strengthen your proud wings
And in the wild ambition of the soul
We drink anew, and dream like Lucifer
To mount upon our daring draught to Heaven.
I need not follow the similitude.
Truth is vitality, and if the mind
Be fed on poison, it must lose its power.
The vision that for ever strains to err,
Soon finds its task a habit ; and the taste
That will own nothing true or beautiful
Soon finds the world distorted as itself ;
And the loose mind, that feeds an appetite
For the enticements of licentious thought,
Contracts a leprosy that oversteals
Its senses, like a palsy, chill, and fast.
Another lesson with my manhood came.
I have unlearn d contempt. It is the sin
That is engender d earliest in the soul,
And doth beset it like a poison-worm,
Feeding on all its beauty. As it steals
Into the bosom, you may see the light
Of the clear, heavenly eye grew cold and dim,
And the fine, upright glory of the brow
Cloud with mistrust, and the unfetter d lip,
That was as free and changeful as the wind-
Even in sadness redolent of love
Curl d with the iciness of a constant scorn.
It eats into the mind till it pollutes
All its pure fountains. Feeling, reason, tasto,
Breathe of its chill corruption. Every sense
That could convey a pleasure is benumb d,
And the bright human being, that was made
Full of all warm affections, and with power
To look through all things lovely up to God,
Is changed into a cold and doubting fiend,
With but one use for reason to despise/
Oh, if there is one law above the rest
Written in reason if there is a word
3 02 POEM.
That I could trace as with a pen of fire
Upon the unsunn d temper of a child
If there is any thing that keeps the mind
Open to angel visits, and repels
The ministry of ill tis human love !
God has made nothing worthy of contempt.
The smallest pebble in the well of truth
Has its peculiar meaning, and will stand
When men s best monuments have pass d away.
The law of heaven is lone ; and though its name
Has been usurped by passion, and profaned
To its unholy uses through all time,
Still, the eternal principle is pure ;
And in these deep affections that we feel
Omnipotent within us, we but see
The lavish measure in which love is given ;
And in the yearning tenderness of a child
For every bird that sings above his head,
And every creature feeding on the hills,
And every tree, and flower, and running brook,
We see how every thing was made to love.
And how they err, who, in a world like this,
Find anything to hate but human pride !
Oh, if we are not bitterly deceived
If this familiar spirit that communes
With yours this hour that has the power to search
All things but its own compass is a spark
Struck from the burning essence of its God
If, as we dream, in every radiant star
We see a shining gate through which the soul,
In its degrees of being, will ascend
If, when these weary organs drop away,
We shall forget their uses, and commune
With angels and each other, as the stars
HON. MRS. STANHOPE. 303
Mingle their light, in silence and in love
What is this fleshly fetter of a day
That we should bind it with immortal flowers !
How do we ever gaze upon the sky,
And watch the lark soar up till he is lost.
And turn to our poor perishing dreams away,
Without one tear for our imprison d wings !
UPON THE PORTRAIT OF THE
HON. MRS. STANHOPE.
WHAT dost thou hear ?
Has the hymn of a fairy reach d thine ear?
Dost thou list the praise of thy beauty, sung
By the amorous leaves thou art lost among ?
Is the cluster of buds and roses there,
Of the presence of lips more bright, aware 1
And have they a voice, as minstrels say,
For all things dewy and fair as they ?
What dost thou see ?
Has a sky -bound angel stooped to thee ?
Doth some loving zephyr, with wings of light,
Hover revealed in thy mortal sight ?
Has a ray of a star, that should sleep by day,
Stole back with the sun, in thine eyes to play ?
Do light and air, as the minstrel sings,
Yearn to the fairest of mortal things ?
Ay gaze and listen !
On thy Phidian brow the bright gems glisten,
But the gnomes that wrought these diamonds fine,
Knew not their bed in the Indian mine,
304 HON. MRS. STANHOPE.
As the spirits of love in earth and air-
Know every charm in a form so fair.
Thou wast never alone, oh lovely one !
By dewy morn or by setting sun.
Thou hast felt a thrill, thou know st not why,
From the summer mind, from the golden sky
The slightest leaf, the meanest flower,
Has touched thy heart in some lonely hour
Though the fondest friend had farthest flown,
Thou hadst not been in that hour alone !
Oh, the life that stirs in the panting rose
The vital breath in each breeze that blows
The far sent ray of the arrowy light
Perfume and Music, by day and night
I have sometimes thought they come and go,
With a spirit s power to see and know,
And tremble with love in their vainless sphere,
And whisper low,
When forms of the beauty of heaven are near.
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