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The morning sunbeams to the great Apollo,
an eternal book
Stop and consider ! life is but a day;
O for ten years, that I may overwhelm Myself in poesy! so I may do the deed That my own soul has to itself decreed. Then I will pass the countries that I see In long perspective, and continually Taste their pure fountains. First the realm I'll pass Of Flora, and Old Pan : sleep in the grass, Feed upon apples red, and strawberries, And choose each pleasure that my fancy sees, Catch the white-handed nymphs in shady places, To woo sweet kisses from averted faces Play with their fingers, touch their shoulders white Into a pretty shrinking with a bite As hard as lips can make it: till agreed, A lovely tale of human life we'll read. And one will teach a tame dove how it best May fan the cool air gently o’er my rest : Another, bending o'er her nimble tread, Will set a green robe floating round her head, And still will dance with ever-varied ease, Smiling upon the flowers and the trees : Another will entice me on, and on, Through almond blossoms and rich cinnamon ; Till in the bosom of a leafy world We rest in silence, like two gems upcurld In the recesses of a pearly shell.
And can I ever bid these joys farewell ?
Still downward with capacious whirl they glide;
The visions all are fled the car is fled Into the light of heaven, and in their stead A sense of real things comes doubly strong, And, like a muddy stream, would bear along My soul to nothingness: but I will strive Against all doubtings, and will keep alive The thought of that same chariot, and the strange Journey it went.
Is there so small a range In the present strength of manhood, that the high Imagination cannot freely fly As she was wont of old ? prepare her steeds, Paw up against the light, and do strange deeds Upon the clouds ? Has she not shown us all ?
From the clear space of ether, to the small
Could all this be forgotten ? Yes, a schism Nurtured by foppery and barbarism, Made great Apollo blush for this his land. Men were thought wise who could not understand His glories : with a puling infant's force They sway'd about upon a rocking-horse, And thought it Pegasus. Ah, dismal-sould ! The winds of heaven blew, the ocean rollid Its gathering waves — ye felt it not. The blue Bared its eternal bosom, and the dew Of summer night collected still to make The morning precious : Beauty was awake! Why were ye not awake? But ye were dead To things ye knew not of, were closely wed To musty laws lined out with wretched rule And compass vile : so that ye taught a school Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and clip, and fit, Tyll, like the certain wands of Jacob's wit, Their verses tallied. Easy was the task : A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask Of Poesy. Ill-fated, impious race ! That blasphemed the bright Lyrist to his face, And did not know it, — no, they went about, Holding a poor, decrepit standard out,
Mark'd with most flimsy mottoes, and in large
O ye whose charge It is to hover round our pleasant hills ! Whose congregated majesty so fills My boundly reverence, that I cannot trace Your hallow'd names, in this unholy place, So near those common folk ; did not their shames Affright you ? Did our old lamenting Thames Delight you ? Did ye never cluster round Delicious Avon, with a mournful sound, And weep? Or did ye wholly bid adieu To regions where no more the laurel grew ? Or did ye stay to give a welcoming To some lone spirits who could proudly sing Their youth away, and die ? 'I was even so: But let me think away those times of woe : Now 'tis a fairer season ; ye have breathed Rich benedictions o’er us; ye have wreathed Fresh garlands : for sweet music has been heard In many places; some has been upstirr'd From out its crystal dwelling in a lake, By a swan's ebon bill; from a thick brake, Nested and quiet in a valley mild, Bubbles a pipe; fine sounds are floating wild About the earth : happy are ye and glad. These things are, doubtiess : yet in truth we've had Strange thunders from the potency of song ; Mingled indeed with what is sweet and strong, From majesty : but in clear truth the themes Are ugly cubs, the Poet's Polyphemes Disturbing the grand sea. A drainless shower Of light is poesy ; 'tis the supreme of power; Tis might half slumbering on its own right arm. The very archings of her eyelids charm A thousand willing agents to obey, And still she governs with the mildest sway :