Samuel Rogers.

The poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir online

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And, basking in the chimney's ample I laze,
'Mid many a tale told of his boyish days,
The nurse shall cry, of alJ her ills beguiled,
" 'T was on these knees he sate so oft and
smiled."

And soon again shall music swell the breeze ;
Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the

trees
Vestures of nuptial white ; and hymns be sung.
And violets scatter d round ; and old and young,
In every cottage-porch with garlands green.
Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene ;
While, her dark eyes declining, by his side
Moves in her virgin-veil the gentle bride.

And once, alas, nor in a distant hour.
Another voice shall come from yonder tower;
When in dim chambers Ion y black weeds are

seen.
And weepings heard wliere only joy has been ;
When by his children borne, and from his door
Slowly departing to return no more.
He rests in holy earth with them that went be-
fore.

And such is Human Life ; so gliding on.
It glimmers like a meteor, and is gone !
Yet is the tale, brief though it be, as strange,
As full, methinks, of wild and wondrous change,
As any that the wandering tribes require,
Stretch'd in the desert round their evening fire;
As any sung of old in hall or bower
To minstrel-harps at midnight's witching hour!

Born in a trance, we wake, observe, inquire ;



HUMAK LIFE. 213

And the green earth, the azure sky admire.

Of Elfin-size — for ever as we run,

We cast a longer shadow in the sun !

And now a charm, and now a grace is won!

We grow in wisdom, and in stature too I

And, as new scenes, new objects rise to view,

Think nothing done while aught remains to do.

Yet, all forget, how oft the eye-lids close,
And from the slack hand drops the gather'd rose I
How oft, as dead, on the warm turf we lie,
While many an emmet comes with curious eye ;
And on her nest the watchful wren sits by !
N'or do we speak or move, or hear or see ;
So like what once we were, and once again
shall be.

And say, how soon, where, blithe as innocent,
The boy at sun-rise whistled as he went,
An aged pilgrim on his staff shall lean.
Tracing in vain the footsteps o'er the green ;
The man himself how alter'd, not the scene !
Now journeying home with nothing but the

name !
Way^fjorn and spent, another and the same !

No eye observes the growth or the decay:
To-day we look as we did yesterday ;
And we shall look to-morrow as to-day :
Yet while the loveliest smiles, her locks gro^

_ grey !
And in her glass could she but see the face
She '11 see so soon amidst another race,
How would she ohriak ! — Returning from afar,
After som.e years of travel, some of war.



214 HUSIAN LirL.

Within his gate Ulysses stood iiviknoT^n

Before a wite, a father, and a son !
And such is Human Life, the general theme.

Ah, what at best, what but a longer dream ?

Though with such wild romantic wanderings
fraught,

Such forms in Fancy's richest colouring
wrought,

That, like the visions of a love-sick brain,

Who would not sleep and dream them o'er
again ?
Our pathway leads but to a precipice ;

And all must follow, fearful as it is !

From the first step 't is known ; but — No delay !

On, 'tis decreed. We tremble and obey.

A thousand ills beset us as we go.

— " Still, could I shun the fatal gulf" — Ah, no

'T is all in vain — the inexorable law I

Nearer and nearer to the brink we draw.

Verdure springs up ; and fruits and flowers in-
vite.

And groves and fountains — all things that de-
light

" Oh, I would stop, and linger if I might'."—

We fly ; no resting for the foot we find ;

And dark before, all desolate behind !

At length the brink appears — but one siep more'.

We faint — On, on I — we falter — and 'tis o'er !
Yet here high passions, high desires unfold,

Prompting to noblest deeds ; here links of gold

Bind soul to soul ; and thoughts divine inspire

A thirst unquenchable, a holy fire



HUMUf LIFE. 215

Thdt will not, cannot but with life expire !

Now, seraph- wing' d, among the stars we
soar ;
Now, distant ages, like a day, explore,
And judge the act, the actor now no more ;
Or, in a thankless hour condemn'd to live,
From others claim what these refuse to give,
And dart, like Milton, an unerring eye
Through the dim curtains of Futurity.

Wealth, Pleasure, Ease, all thought of self
resign'd.
What will not Man encounter for Mankind ?
Behold him now unbar the prison-door.
And, lifting Guilt, Contagion from the floor,
To Feace and Health, and Light and Life

restore ;
Now in Thermopylae remain to share
Death — nor look back, nor turn a footstep there,
Leaving his story to the birds of air;
And now like Fylades (in Heaven they write
Names such as his in characters of light)
Long with his friend in generous enmity.
Pleading, insisting in his place to die!

Do what he will, he cannot realize
Half he conceives — the glorious vision flies.
Go where he may, he caimot hope to find
The truth, the beauty pictured in his mind.
But if by chance an object strike the sense,
The faintest shadow of that Excellence,
Passions, that slept, are stirring in his frame ;
Thoughts undefined, feelings without a name .
And some, not here call'd forth, may slumber ot



216 HUMAN LIFE.

Till this vain pageant of a world is gone ;
Lying too deep for things that perish here,
Waiting for liie — but in a nobler sphere !

Look where he comes ! Rejoicing in his birth,
Awhile he moves as in a heaven on earth !
Sun, moon, and stars — the land, the sea, the sky
To him shine out as 't were a galaxy !
But soon 't is past — the light has died away !
With him it came (it was not of the day)
And he himself diffused it, like the stone
That sheds awhile a lustre all its own,
Making night beautiful. 'Tis past, 'tis gone,
And in his darkness as he journeys on
Nothing revives him but the blessed ray
That now breaks in, nor ever knows decay.
Sent from a better world to light him on his way.

How great the Mystery ! Let others sing
The circling Year, the promise of the Spring,

The Summer's glory, and the rich repose

Of Autumn, and the Winter's silvery snows,

Man through the changing scene let me pursue,

Himself how wondrous in his changes too !

Not Man the sullen savage in his den;

But Man call'd forth in fellowship with men;

School'd and train' d up to Wisdom from his
birth ;

God's noblest work — His image upon earth !
The hour arrives, the moment wish'd and
fear'd ;

The child is born, by many a pang endear'd.

And now the mother's ear has caught his crv;

Oh grant the cherub to her asking eye !



HUMAN LIFE. 217

He comes — she clasps him. To her bosom

press'd,
He drinks ihe balm of life, and drops to rest.
Her by her smile how soon the Stranger
knows ;
How soon by his the glad discovery shows !
As to her lips she lifts the lovely boy,
What answering looks of sympathy and joy !
He walks, he speaks. In many a broken word
His wants, his wishes, and his griefs are heard.
And ever, ever to her lap he flies.
When rosy Sleep comes on with sweet surprise.
Lock'd in her arms, his arms across her flung,
(That name most dear for ever on his tongue)
As with soft accents round her neck he clings
And cheek to cheek, her lulling song she singa,
How blest to feel the beatings of his heart,
Breathe his sweet breath, and kiss for kisa

impart ;
Watch o'er his slumbers like the brooding dove,
And, if she can, exhaust a mother's love !

But soon a nobler task demands her care.
Apart she joins his little hands in prayer,
Telling of Him who sees in secret there ! —
And now the volume on her knee has caught
His wandering eye — now many a written

thought
Never to die, with many a lisping sweet
His moving, murmuring lips endeavour to re-
peat.
Released, he chases the bright butterfly ;
Oh he would tbilovv — follow through the sky I



2!8 HUMAN LIFE.

Climba tlic gaunt mastiff slumb:?Ting in bia

chain,
And chides and bufibts, clinging by the mane ;
Then runs, and, kneeling by the fountain-side,
Sends his brave ship in triumph down the tide,
A dangerous voyage ; or, if now he can,
If now he wears the habit of a man,
Fhngs off the coat so long his pride and pleasure
And, like a miser digging for his treasure,
His tiny spade in his own garden plies,
And in green letters sees his name arise !
Where'er he goes, for ever in her sight.
She looks, and looks, and still with new delight '

Ah who, when fading of itself away,
Would cloud the sunshine of his little day !
Now is the May of Life. Careering round,
Joy wings his feet, Joy lifts him from the

ground !
Pointing to such, well might Cornelia say,
When the rich casket shone in bright array,
" These are my Jewels !" Well of such as he,
When Jesus spake, well might his language be,
" Suffer these little ones to come to me !"

Thoughtful by fits, he scans and he reveres
The brow engraven with the Thoughts ot

Years ;
Close by her side his silent homage given
As to some pure Intelligence from Heaven ;
His eyes cast downward with ingenuous shame.
His conscious checks, conscious of praise oi

blame,
.At once lit up as with a holy flame !



HUMAN LIFE. 219

He thirsts for knowledge, speaks but to inquire ;
And soon with tears relinquij^h'd to the Sire,
Soon in his hand to Wisdom's temple led,
Hold secret converse with 'he Mighty Dead ,
Trembles and thrills and \s eeps as they inspire,
Burns as they burn, and with congenial fire !
Like Her most gentle, most unfortunate,
Crown'd but to die — who in her chamber sate
Musing with Plato, though the horn was blown,
And every ear and every heart was won,
And all in green array were chasing down the
sun !
Then is the age of Admiration — Then
Gods walk the earth, or beings more than men,
Who breathe the soul of Inspiration round,
Whose very shadows consecrate the ground !
Ah, then comes thronging many a wild desire,
And high imagining and thought of fire !
Then from within a voice exclaims " Aspire !"
Phantoms, that upward point, before him pass,
As in the Cave athwart the Wizard's glass;
They, that on Youth a grace, a lustre shed,
Of every age — the living and the dead !
Thou, all-accomplish' d Surrey, thou art known ;
The flower of Knighthood, nipt as soon aa

blown !
Melting all hearts but Geraldine's alone !
And, with his beaver up, discovering there
One who lov'd less to conquer than to spare,
Lo the Black Warrior, he. who, battle-spent,
Bare-hctided served the Captive in his tent!
Young B in the groves of Academe,



220 HUMAN LIFE.

Or wliere Ilyssus winds his whispering stream;
Or where the wild bees swarm with ceaseless

hum,
Dreaming old dreams — a joy for years to come;
Or on the Rock \vi:hin ilie sacred Fane; —
Scenes such as Milton sought, but sought in

vain :
And Milton's self (at that thrice-honoured name
Weil may we glow — as men, we share his

fame) —
And Milton's self, apart with beaming eye,
Planning he knows nor what — that shall not die!

Oh in thy truth secure, thy virtue bold,"*
Beware the poison in the cup of gold,
The asp among the nowers. Thy heart beats

high.
As bright and brighter breaks the distant sky !
But every step is on enchanted ground ;
Danger thou lovest, and Danger haunts thee

round.
Who spurs his horse against the mountain-
side ;
Then, phmging, slakes his fury in the tide ?
Draws., and cries ho ; and, where the sun-beams

fall.
At his own shadow thrusts along the wall ?
Who dances without music ; and anon
Sings like the lark — th^n sighs as woe-begone.
And folds his arms, and, where the willowa

wave.
Glides in the moon-shine by a maiden's grave'
Come hither, boy, and clear thy open brow:



HUMAN ,IFE. 221

Yon summer-clc'uds, now like the Alps, and now
A ship, a whale, change not so fast as thou.
He hears me not — 'I'hose sighs were from the
heart ;
Too, too well taught, he plays the lover's part.
He who at masques, nor leigning nor sincere,
With sweet discourse would win a lady's ear,
Lie at her feet, and on her slipper swear
That none were half so taultless, half so fair,
Now through the forest hies, a stricken deer,
A banish'd man, flying when none are near;
And writes on every tree, and lingers long
Where most the nightingale repeats her song ;
Where most the nymph, that haunts the silent

grove,
Delights to syllable the names we love.

Two on his steps attend, in motly clad;
One woeful-wan, one merrier yet as mad;
Called Hope and Fear. Hope shakes his cap and

bells.
And flowers spring up among the woodland

dells.
To Hope he listens, wandering without measure
Through sun and shade, lost in a trance of plea-
sure ;
And, if to Fear but for a weary mile,
Hope follows fast and wins him with a smile.
At length he goes — a Pilgrim to the Shrine
And for a relic would a world resign !
A glove, a shoe-tie, or a flower let fall —
What thou2:li the least, Love consecrates them
ali:^



B22 HUMAN LIFE.

And now he breathes in many a plaintive verse
Now wins the dull ear of the wily nurse
At early matins ('t was at matin-time
That first he saw and sicken'd in his prime),
And soon the Sibyl, in her thirst for gold,
Plays with young hearts that will not be con-
troU'd.
"Absence from Thee — as self from self it



seems



I"



Scaled is the garden-wall ! and lo, her beams
Silvering the east, the moon comes up, revealing
His well-known form along the terrace stealing.
—Oh, ere in sight he came, 'twas his to thrill
A heart that loved him though in secret still.
" Am I awake ? or is it — can it be
An idle dream ? Nightly it visits me !
—That strain," she cries, " as from the water

rose
Now near and nearer through the shade it

flows !—
Now sinks departing — sweetest in its close !'*
No casement gleams ; no Juliet, like the day,
Comes forth and speaks and bids her lover stay.
Still, like aerial n;usic heard from far,
Nightly it rises with the evening-star.

— "She loves another! Love was in that sigh!"
On the cold ground he throws himself to die.
Fond Youth, beware. Thy heart is most de-
ceiving.
Who wish are fearful ; who suspect, believing.
—And soon her looks the rapturous truth avow
Lovely before, oh, say how lovely now!



HUMAN LIFE. 223

She flies not, fro\vn3 not, though he pleads his

cause ;
Nor yet — nor yet her hand from his withdraws ;
But by some secret Power surprised, subdued
(Ah how resist ? Nor would she if she could),
Falls on his neck as half unconscious where,
Glad to conceal her tears, her blushes there.

Then come those full confidings of the past ;
All sunshine now where all was overcast.
Then do they wander till the day is gone,
Lost in each other ; and when Night steals on,
Covering them round, how sweet her accents

are !
Oh when she turns and speaks, her voice is far,
Far above singing ! — But soon nothing stirs
To break the silence — Joy like his, like hers.
Deals not in words : and now the shadows close.
Now in the glimmering, dying light she grows
Less and less earthly 1 As departs the day
All that was mortal seems to melt away.
Till, like a gift resumed as soon as given,
She fades at last into a Spirit from Heaven !
Then are they blest indeed ; and swift the

hours
Till her young Sisters wreathe her hair in flowers
Kindling her beauty — while, unseen, the least
Twitches her robe, then runs behind the rest,
Known by her laugli that will not be suppress'd
Then before All they stand — the holy vow
And ring of gold, no fond illusions now.
Bind her as his. Across the threshold led.
And every tear kiss'd off as soon as shed,



224 HUMAN LIFE.

His house she enters — tliere to be a light.
Shining within, wl:en all without is night;
A guardian-angel o'er his life presiding,
Doubling his pleasures, and his cares dividing,
Winning hinr back, when mingling in th»

throng,
Back from a world we love, alas, too long,
To fire-side happiness, to hours of ease.
Blest with that charm, the certainty to please.
How oft her eyes read his ; her gentle mind
To all his wishes, all his thoughts inrclined ;
Still subject — ever on the watch to borrow
Mirth of his mirth, and sorrow of his sorrow
The soul of music slumbers in the shell,
Till waked and kindled by the master's spell;
And feeling hearts — touch them but ^g^tly-

pour
A thousand melodies unheard before !

Nor many moons o'er hill and valley rise
Ere to the gate with nymph-like step she flies,
And their first-born holds forth, their darling

boy,
With smiles how sweet, how full of love and

joy

To meet him coming; theirs through every year
Pure transports, such as each to each endear !
And laughing eyes and laughing voices fill
Their halls with gladness. She, when all ara

still,
Comes and undravv's the curtain as they lie,
In sleep how beautiful I He, when the sky
Gleams, and the wood sends up its harmony,



HUMAN L^FE. 225

When, gathering round his bed, they climb to

share
His kisses, and with gentle violence there
Break in upon a dream not half so fair,
Up to the hill-top leads their little feet ;
Or by the forest-lodge, perchance to meet
The stag-herd on its march, perchance to hear
The otter rustling in the sedgy mere ;
Or to the echo near the Abbot's tree,
That gave him back his words of pleasantry —
When the House stood, no merrier man than

he!
And, as they wander with a keen delight.
If but a leveret catch their quicker sight
Down a green alley, or a squirrel then
Climb the gnarl'd oak, and look and climb

again,
If but a moth flit by, an acorn fall,
He turns their thoughts to Him who made them

all;
These with unequal footsteps following fast,
These clinging by his cloak, unwilling to be last.

The shepherd on Tornaro's misty brow.
And the swart sea-man, sailing far below,
Not undelighted watch the morning ray
Purpling the orient — till it breaks away.
And burns and blazes into glorious day !
Bit happier still is he who bends to trace
That sun, the soul, just dawning in the face ;
The burst, the glow, the animating strife,
The thoughts and passions stirring into life ; ,
The forming utterance, the inquiring glance,
15



226 HUMAN LIFE.

The giant waking from his ten-Lid trance,
Till up he starts as conscious whence he camOt
And all is light within the trembling frame !

What then a Father's feelings ? Joy and Fear
Prevail in turn, Joy most; and through the year
Tempering the ardent, urging night and day
Him who shrinks back or wanders from the way,
Praising each highly — from a wish to raise
Their merits to the level of his Praise.
Onward in their observing sight he moves,
Fearful of wrong, in awe of whom he loves !
Their sacred presence who shall dare profane ?
Who, when He slumbers hope to fix a stain?
He lives a model in his life to show,
That, when he dies and through the world they

go,
Some men may pause and say, when some ad-
mire,
" They are his sons, and worthy of their sire !"

But Man is born to suffer. On the door
Sickness has set her mark ; and now no more
Laughter within we hear, or wood-notes wild
As of a mother singing to her child.
All now in anguish from that room retire,
Where a young cheek glows with consuming

fire.
And Innocence breathes contagion — all but one,
But she who gave it birth — from her alone
The medicine-cup is taken. Through the night,
And through the day, that with its dreary light
Comes unregarded, she sits silent by,
Watching the changes with her airiious eye :



HITMAN LIFE.

WTiile they without, listening beIo\r, above,
(Who but in sorrow know how much they love?)
From every Uttle noise catch hope and fear,
Exchanging still, still as they turn to hear,
Whispers and sighs, and smiles all tenderness
That would in vain the starting tear repress.

Such giief was ours — it seems but yesterday—
When in thy prime, wishing so much to stay,
'T was thine, Maria, thine without a sigh
At midnight in a Sister's arms to die !
Oh thou wert lovely — lovely was thy frame.
And pure thy spirit as from Heaven it came !
And, when recall'd to join the blest above,
Thou diedst a victim to exceeding love.
Nursing the young to health. In happier hours,
When idle Fancy wove luxuriant flowers,
Once in thy mirth thou bad'st me v/riteon thee ;
And now I write — what thou shalt never see !

At length the Father, vain his power to save,
Follows his child in silence to the grave,
(That child how cherish'd, whom he would not

give.
Sleeping the sleep of death, for all that live !)
Takes a last look, when, not unheard, the spade
Scatters the earth as "dust to dust" is said,
Takes a last look and goes ; his best relief
Consoling others in that hour of grief,
And with sweet tears and gentle words infasing
The holy calm that leads to heavenly musing.

— But hark, the din of arms ! no time for sor-
row
To horse, to horse ! A day of blood to-morrow'



228 HUMAN LIFE.

One parting pang, and then — and then I flf,
Fly to the field, to triumph— or to die ! —
He goes, and Night comes on as it never curat'
With skrieks of horror I — and a vairU of flame*
And lo ! when morning mocks the desolate,
Red runs the river by ; and at the gate
Breathless a horse without his rider stands !
But liush ! — a shout from the victorious bands'
And oh the smiles and tears, a sire restored !
One wears his helm, one buckles on his sword.
One hangs the Avall with laurel-leaves, and &IJ
Spring to prepare the soldier's festival ;
While She best-loved, till then forsaken never.
CHngs round his neck as she would cling forevti'

Such golden deeds lead on to golden days,
Djays of domestic peace — by him who plaj'S
On the great stage how uneventful thought f
Yet with a thousand busy projects fraught,
A thousand incidents that stir the mind
To pleasure, such as leaves no sting behind !
Such as the heart delights in — and records
Within how silently — in more than words I
A Holiday — the frugal banquet sptt'ad
On the fresh herbage near the fountain-head
With quips and cranks — what time the wood

lark there
Scatters her loose notes on the sultry air,
What time the king-fisher sits perch' d belovr.
Where, silver-bright, the water-lilies blow:—
A Wake — the booths whitening the village-
green,
Where Punch and Scaramouch aloft are seen*



HUMAN LIFE. 229

Sign beyond sign in close array unfurl'd,
Picturing at large the wonders of the world ;
And far and wide, over the vicar's pale,
Black hoods and scarlet crossing hill and dale,
All, all abroad, and music in the gale : —
A Wedding-dance — a dance into the night
On the barn-lloor, when maiden-feet are light;
When the young bride receives the promised

dower,
And flowers are flung, herself a fairer flower :—
A morning visit to the poor man's shed,
(Who would be rich while One was wanting

bread ?)
When all are emulous to bring relief.
And tears are falling fast — but not for grief: —
A Walk in Spring — Grattan, hke those with

thee.
By the heath-side Cwho had not envied me ?)
When the sweet limes, so full of bees in June,
Led us to meet beneath their boughs at noon ;
And thou didst say which of the Great and

Wise,
Could they but hear and at thy bidding rise,
Thou wouldst call up and question.

Graver things
Come in their turn. Morning, and Evening,

brings
Its holy office ; and the sabbath-bell,
That over wood and wild and mountain-dell
Wanders so far, chasing all thoughts unholy
With sounds most musical, most melancholy,
Nc*'- on his ear is lost. Then he pursues



230 HU.'IAJf LIFE.

The pathivay leading through the aged yewBj
Nor unattended ; and, when all are there,
Pours out his spirit in the House of Prayer,
That House with many a funeral-garland hung
Of virgin-white — memorials of the young,
The last yet fresh when marriage-chimes were

ringing,
And hope and joy in other hearts were sp^i'-ijring ;
That house, where Age led in by Filial Love,
Their looks composed, their thought3 o.i things

above.
The world forgot, or all its wrong& forr;iven
Who would not say they trod ihe path to

Heaven ?
Nor at the fragrant hour — a.t ea-ily dawn —
Under the elm-tree on his level lawn,
Or in his porch is he less duly foi'.nd,
When they that cry for Jus'.ice goiher round-.
And in that cry her sacred voice i'j drown' d
His then to hear and wyigh aad arbitrate.
Like Alfred judging at his pa'.aco-gale.
Heal'd at his touch, the wounds of discord close ;
And they return as friends, that came as foes.
Thus, while the v/orld but claims its proper

part,
Oft in the head, but never in the heart,
His life steals on ; within his quiet d".^'elUng
That home-felt joy all other joys exceliuig.
Sick of the crowd, when enters he — ujc tlien


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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 11 of 16)