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Bidding adieu ; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips : Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veild Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous
tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine ; His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
LINES ON THE MERMAID TAVERN.
OULS of poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern ?
Have ye tippled drink more fine
Than mine host's Canary wine?
Or are fruits of Paradise
Sweeter than those dainty pies
Of venison ? O generous food !
Drest as though bold Robin Hood
Would, with his maid Marian,
Sup and bowse from horn and can.
I have heard that on a day
Mine host's sign-board flew away,
Nobody knew whither, till
An astrologer's old quill
To a sheepskin gave the story,
Said he saw you in your glory,
Underneath a new old-sign
Sipping beverage divine,
And pledging with contented smack
The Mermaid in the Zodiac.
Souls of poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern ?
O! those days are gone away,
And their hours are old and gray,
And their minutes buried all
Under the down-trodden pall
Of the leaves of many years:
Many times have Winter's shears,
Frozen North, and chilling East,
Sounded tempests to the feast
Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
Since men knew nor rent nor leases.
No, the bugle sounds no more,
And the twanging bow no more;
Silent is the ivory shrill
Past the heath and up the hill;
There is no mid-forest laugh,
Where lone Echo gives the half
To some wight, amazed to hear
Jesting, deep in forest drear.
On the fairest time of June You may go, with sun or moon, Or the seven stars to light you, Or the polar ray to right you; But you never may behold Little John, or Robin bold; Never one, of all the clan, Thrumming on an empty can,
Some old hunting ditty, while
He doth his green way beguile
To fair hostess Merriment,
Down beside the pasture Trent;
For he left the merry tale,
Messenger for spicy ale.
Gone, the merry morris din; Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Gone, the tough-belted outlaw Idling in the “ greené shawe;” All are gone away and past ! And if Robin should be cast Sudden from his tufted grave, And if Marian should have Once again her forest days, She would weep, and he would craze: He would swear, for all his oaks, Fall'n beneath the dock-yard strokes, Have rotted on the briny seas ; She would weep that her wild bees Sang not to her strange! that honey Can't be got without hard money!
So it is; yet let us sing
Honour to the old bow-string !
Honour to the bugle horn!
Honour to the woods unshorn!
Honour to the Lincoln green !
Honour to the archer keen !
Honour to tight Little John,
And the horse he rode upon!
Honour to bold Robin Hood,
Sleeping in the underwood !
Honour to Maid Marian,
And to all the Sherwood clan!
Though their days have hurried by,
Let us two a burden try.
As I lay in my bed slepe full unmete
Was unto me, but why that I ne might
Rest I ne wist, for there n' as erthly wight
(As I suppose) had more of hertis ese
Than I, for I nad sicknesse nor disese. -CHAUCER.
HAT is more gentle than a wind in summer?
What is more soothing than the pretty hum
That stays one moment in an open flower,
And buzzes cheerily from bower to bower ?
What is more tranquil than a musk-rose blowing
In a green island, far from all men's knowing ?
More healthful than the leafiness of dales ?
More secret than a nest of nightingales ?
More serene than Cordelia's countenance?
More full of visions than a high romance ?
What, but thee, Sleep? Soft closer of our eyes !
Low murmurer of tender lullabies !
Light hoverer around our happy pillows !
Wreather of poppy buds, and weeping willows !
Silent entangler of a beauty's tresses !
Most happy listener! when the morning blesses
Thee for enlivening all the cheerful eyes
That glance so brightly at the new sun-rise.
But what is higher beyond thought than thee? Fresher than berries of a mountain-tree ? More strange, more beautiful, more smooth, more
regal, Than wings of swans, than doves, than dim-seen
eagle? What is it? And to what shall I compare it ? It has a glory, and nought else can share it:
The thought thereof is awful, sweet, and holy,
Chasing away all worldliness and folly :
Coming sometimes like fearful claps of thunder;
Or the low rumblings earth's regions under;
And sometimes like a gentle whispering
Of all the secrets of some wondrous thing
That breathes about us in the vacant air;
So that we look around with prying stare,
Perhaps to see shapes of light, aerial limning;
And catch soft floatings from a faint-heard hymn-
To see the laurel-wreath, on high suspended,
That is to crown our name when life is ended.
Sometimes it gives a glory to the voice,
And from the heart up-springs, rejoice! rejoice!
Sounds which will reach the Framer of all things,
And die away in ardent mutterings.
No one who once the glorious sun has seen,
And all the clouds, and felt his bosom clean
For his great Maker's presence, but must know
What 'tis I mean, and feel his being glow :
Therefore no insult will I give his spirit,
By telling what he sees from native merit.
O Poesy! for thee I hold my pen, That am not yet a glorious denizen Of thy wide heaven should I rather kneel Upon some mountain-top until I feel A glowing splendour round about me hung, And echo back the voice of thine own tongue ? O Poesy ! for thee I grasp my pen, That am not yet a glorious denizen Of thy wide heaven ; yet, to my ardent prayer, Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air, Smooth'd for intoxication by the breath Of flowering bays, that I may die a death Of luxury, and my young spirit follow