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FROST AT MIDNIGHT. Although a mystic and a dreamer in philosophy, and beyond measure difficult to be understood when writing or talking prose, COLERIDGE'S poetry is remarkably clear and intelligible, and simple in language and thought. Hence his greater popularity as a poet, and bis poetry will live when his philosophy is forgotten; the one is genias attering its natural emotions, the other is genius playing the pedant and substituting ingenuity for impuise. How very beautiful is this picture of a frost!
The frost performs its secret ministry
Unhelp'd by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude which suits
Abstruser musing: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! The thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire and quivers not;
Only that film, which flutters on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling spirit
By its own moods interprets, everywhere
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of thought.
But Oh! how oft,
How oft at school, with most believing mind
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars
To watch that fluttering STRANGER! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirr'd and haunted me
With a wild pleasure falling on mine ear,
Most like articulate sounds of things to come.
So gazed I, till the soothing things I dreamt
Lulld me to sleep, and sleep prolong'd my dreams.
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fix'd with mock study on my swimming book,
Save if the door half open'd, and I snatch'd
A hasty glance, and still my heart leap'd up,
For still I hoped to see the STRANGER's face-
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike.
Dear babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the interspersed vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought,
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness thus to look at thee
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore
And in far other scenes ! for I was rear'd
In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim,
And nought-nought lovely but the sky and stars ;
But Thou, my babe, shalt wander like a breeze
Of ancient mountains, and beneath the clouds
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee;
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the white thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall,
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet moon.
This is a sonnet by FANNY KEMBLE.
O SERIOUS eyes ! how is it that the light,
The burning rays that mine pour into ye,
Still find ye cold, and dead, and dark as night-
Oh, lifeless eyes ! can ye not answer me?
Oh, lips whereon mine own so often dwell,
Hath love's warm, fearful, thrilling touch no spell
To waken sense in ye?-oh misery!--
Oh, breathless lips ! can ye not speak to me?
Thou soulless mimicry of life! my tears
Fall scalding over thee; in vain, in vain,
I press thee to my heart, whose hopes and fears
Are all thine own, thou dost not feel the strain.
Oh thou dull image! wilt thou not reply
To my fond prayers and wild idolatry ?
THE MOSSY NOOK. This delicious sonnet is from the pen of the Rev. J. Eagles, well known as the “ Sketcher,” of Blackwood's Magazine. We do not remember to have read among modern productions anything more simple, graceful and natural, than the following poem. It was the eye of a true poet that, seeing a little shady nook by the side of a mossy bank, straightway peopled it with fairy folk, and made it the centre of such a scene as this.
This nook the tiny Theatre has been
Where elves have acted plays; such as they took
From the fond legends of old fairy book.
Their tiring room beneath these hollows green,
Wliile clust'ring glow-worms lighted up the scene.
Their orchestra these hanging boughs, which shook
With music, such as lulls the nightly brook.
Their audience twinkling stars and moon serene.
Their strains inaudible to ear unblest.
But the sweet lark, listening the live-long night,
Against a reedy tuft hath lean'd her breast,
And borne them to heaven's gate at morning light,
And birds that elves most love, with emulous throats,
Do catch in leafy lens sweet fairy notes.
Why should we crave a hallow'd spot ?
An altar is in each man's cot;
A church in every grove that spreads
A living roof above our heads.
AFFLICTION. AFFLICTION then is ours :
We are the trees whom shaking fastens more, While blustering winds destroy the wanton towers,
And ruffle all their curious busts and store.
My God, so temper joy and woe,
That thy bright beams may tame thy bow.
Hist! when the airy stress
Of music's kiss impregnates the free winds,
And with a sympathetic touch unbinds
Æolian magic from their lucid wombs;
Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs ;
Old ditties sigh above their father's grave;
Ghosts of melodious prophesyings rave
Round every spot where trod Apollo's foot;
Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit,
Where long ago a giant battle was;
And from the turf a lullaby doth pass
In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
I CANNOT sleep; my eyes' ill-neighbouring lids
Will hold no fellowship. O thou pale sober night,
Thou that in sluggish fumes all sense dost steep;
Thou that givest all the world full leave to play
Unbend'st the feeble veins of sweaty labour !
The galley-slave, that all the toilsome day
Tugs at the oar against the stubborn wave,
Straining his rugged veins, snores fast;
The stooping scythe-man, that doth barb the field,
Thou makest wink sure ; in night all creatures sleep,
Only the Malcontent, that 'gainst his fate
Repines and quarrels : alas, he's Goodman Tell-clock;
His sallow jaw-bones sink with wasting moan;
Whilst others' beds are down, his pillow's stone.
INTERCESSION BETWEEN A FATHER AND SON.
THERE stands before you
The youth and golden top of your existence,
Another life of yours : for, think your morning
Not lost, but given, pass'd from your hand to his,
The same except in place. Be then to him
As was the former tenant of your age,
When you were in the prologue of your time,
And he lay hid in you unconsciously
Under his life. And thou, my younger master,
Remember there's a kind of God in him ;
And, after Heaven, the next of thy religion.
Thy second fears of God, thy first of man,
Are his, who was creation's delegate,
And made this world for thee, in making thee.
SEE how, beneath the moonbeam's smile,
Yon little billow heaves its breast,
And foams and sparkles for awhile,
And, murmuring, then subsides to rest.
Thus man, the sport of bliss and care,
Rises on Time's eventful sea;
And, having swell'd a moment there,
Thus melts into Eternity!
Let thy mind still be bent, still plotting, where
And when, and how thy business may be done.
Slackness breeds worms; but the sure traveller,
Though he alights sometimes, still goeth on.
Active and stirring spirits live alone.
Write on the others-Here lies such a one.