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To the blue heavens. There bright and sumptuous palaces,
Finding itself a solemn sanctuary
In the profound of heaven! It stands before us
THE TRANQUILLITY OF NATURE.
Jove-Venus-and the ruddy crest of Mars,
Opening its vast abyss, while fancy feeds
Great Pan1 himself low-whispering through the reeds,
Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!"
(1) Pan-Pan, among the Greeks, was the God of universal Nature, and the name was used frequently, as we use the word Nature, for the invisible cause of the beauties of creation.
HAIL, Twilight! sovereign of one peaceful hour!
Looked ere his eyes were closed. By him was seen
At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power, brought forth :--
The floods, the stars;-a spectacle as old
TO THE NIGHTINGALE.'
SWEET bird! thou sing'st away the early hours!
Well pleased with delights which present are,-
(1) The writer of this and the following beautiful sonnet was a friend and contemporary of Ben Jonson.
(2) And what dear gifts, &c.-i. e. and the precious gifts that he lavished on thee.
(3) Oh stain, &c.-Oh what a reproach to men is the sin which debases ("lowers") them, and prevents their praising God as you do.
(4) Airs of spheres-the fancied music of the spheres.
THE PLEASURES OF RETIREMENT.
But doth converse with that eternal love!
Oh, how more sweet is bird's harmonious moan,
Than those smooth whisperings near a prince's throne,
Oh, how more sweet is zephyr's wholesome breath,
DIRGE OVER FIDELE'S TOMB.3
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
No wailing ghost shall dare
And melting virgins own their love.
No withered witch shall here be seen,
(1) His own-by himself.
(2) To poison, &c.-Compared to poison.
(3) This exquisite poem seems to have been suggested by the funeral chant over the body of Imogen, under the assumed name of Fidele, in Shakspere's Cymbeline." Sir E. Brydges commends its "simplicity and pathos," its "highly poetical thought and tone." its "exquisite polish, without one superfluous, one prosaic word." He continues thus:-"The extreme transparency of the words and thoughts would induce a vulgar reader to consider them [such poems] trite, while they are the expression of a genius so refined as to be all essence of spirit."
The redbreast oft,' at evening hours,
Each lonely scene shall thee restore;
THOUGH many suns have risen and set
Earth, sea, thy presence feel-nor less,
With its soft smile the truth express,
The heavens have felt it too.
And eyes that cannot but be sad
Let fall a brightened tear.
(1) The redbreast, &c.-It is thought that Gray was indebted to this stanza for the lines in the "Elegy" (see p. 65) beginning
"There scattered oft," &c.
(2) Among the many beautiful poems of the same author, there is not perhaps a more finished composition than this-not one more noticeable for the "curiosa felicitas"-that "grace beyond the reach of art," which evinces the perfect mastery of the artist.
Since thy return, through days and weeks
The old, by thee revived, have said,
And wayworn wanderers, poorly fed,
Who tripping lisps a merry song
The tender infant, who was long
But now, when every sharp-edged blast
His mother leaves him free to taste
Lo! streams that April could not check
By thee, thee only, could be sent
How delicate the leafy veil
Through which yon House of God
And lowly huts, near beaten ways,
In thy fresh wreaths, than they for praise
Season of fancy and of hope,
A blossom from thy crown to drop,
Nor add to it a flower!
(1) Gurgling, &c.-In one line of this couplet we may almost hear the "gurgling," and in the other almost feel the stillness, of the water.
(2) Curling, &c.-One of those "felicities" of phrase alluded to in the first