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But there are times, when those that love the bay, Fly from all sorrowing far, far, away; A sudden glow comes on them, nought they see In water, earth, or air, but poesy. It has been said, dear George, and true I hold it (For knightly Spenser to Libertas told it), That when a poet is in such a trance, In air he sees white coursers paw and prance, Bestridden of gay knights, in gay apparel, Who at each other tilt in playful quarrel ; And what we, ignorantly, sheet-lightning call, Is the swift opening of their wide portal, When the bright warder blows his trumpet clear, Whose tones reach nought on earth but poet's ear, When these enchanted portals open wide, And through the light the horsemen swiftly glide, The poet's eye can reach those golden halls, And view the glory of their festivals : Their ladies fair, that in the distance seem Fit for the silvering of a seraph's dream; Their rich brimm'd goblets, that incessant run, Like the bright spots that move about the sun, And when upheld, the wine from each bright jar Pours with the lustre of a falling star. Yet further off are dimly seen their bowers, Of which no mortal eye can reach the flowers; And 'tis right just, for well Apollo knows 'Twould make the poet quarrel with the rose. All that's reveal'd from that far seat of blisses, Is, the clear fountains' interchanging kisses, As gracefully descending, light and thin, Like silver streaks across a dolphin's fin, When he upswimmeth from the coral caves, And sports with half his tail above the waves.
These wonders strange he sees, and many more, Whose head is pregnant with poetic lore: Should he upon an evening ramble fare With forehead to the soothing breezes bare, Would he nought see but the dark, silent blue, With all its diamonds trembling through and through? Or the coy moon, when in the waviness Of whitest clouds she does her beauty dress, And staidly paces higher up, and higher, Like a sweet nun in holiday attire ? Ah, yes ! much more would start into his sightThe revelries and mysteries of night: And should I ever see them, I will tell you Such tales as needs must with amazement spell you.
These are the living pleasures of the bard : But richer far posterity's award. What does he murmur with his latest breath, While his proud eye looks through the film of death? “What though I leave this dull and earthly mould, Yet shall my spirit lofty converse hold With after times.—The patriot shall feel My stern alarum, and unsheath his steel; Or in the senate thunder out my numbers, To startle princes from their easy slumbers. The sage will mingle with each moral theme My happy thoughts sententious : he will teem With lofty periods when my verses fire him, And then I'll stoop from heaven to inspire him. Lays have I left of such a dear delight That maids will sing them on their bridal-night; Gay villagers, upon a morn of May, When they have tired their gentle limbs with play,
And form'd a snowy circle on the grass,
Through all that day I've felt a greater pleasure
Than if I had brought to light a hidden treasure.
TO CHARLES COWDEN CLARKE.
FT have you seen a swan superbly frowning,
By this, friend Charles, you may full plainly see Why I have never penn'd a line to thee: Because my thoughts were never free and clear, And little fit to please a classic ear; Because my wine was of too poor a savour For one whose palate gladdens in the flavour