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The region known to men as England,
Is called among the Immortals_Thing-land,
Alas! that earth's most fully fraught land
With all its riches, is not Thought-land.
Poor affluence of Words, how weak thy power
Without the warming heart, the bright'ning head ! When Jove came down through Danaë's brazen tower,
It was not, mark ye, in a fall of lead.
The world sent forth a stately ship that long in glory sail'd,
Until against that stubborn hulk the winds of heaven prevail'd;
The ship was dash'd upon the shore, the wreck was on the foam,
Though on the shatter'd stern was seen the boast -- IMPERIAL ROME.
Again the ruin was repair'd, and launch'd upon the main ;
With blazon'd flags and arms it swept, and was a ship again :
By thundersound it strove to daunt mankind, and storms, and time,
And traffic'd long, by force and fraud, in every richest clime.
Once more it struck against the rocks, beneath the stress of heaven,
And all its threats and all its wealth along the surge were driven :
It lies a hulk in slow decay, each dull sea-monster's home,
And on the slimy stern is carved the name of PAPAL ROME.
Thou whose mental eye is keen
But to pierce the husks of things,
Learn that bees were never seen
Gathering honey with their stings.
If all the forest leaves had speech,
And talk'd with one rhetoric fit,
What wonder would arise in each
That all would not attend to it!
A Russian, looking at a map of earth,
Saw England's smallness with contemptuous mirth:
Poor Boyar! 'twere a thought to break thy rest
How large a spirit haunts man's little breast !
And, fill'd with what a thimbleful of life,
The huge rhinoceros wakes for food or strife!
Loud sceptic cock, I see theo stand
Upon thy heap of foul decay,
And, crowing keen, thy wings expand
To chase all spectral things away.
What though the ghosts thy note would scare
Be Truth's ideal starry train ;
Thy voice shall chase the lights of air,
And turn them into mist again.
Ah! no; a day will surely shinc,
When thou shalt know thy nature's dcom,
And self-despoil'd of life divine
Shalt find in mire thy fitting tomb.
How many giants, each in turn, have sought
To bear the world upon their shoulders wide,
King, conqueror, priest, and he whose work is thought;
And all in turn have sunk, outworn, and died !
But yet the world is never felt to move,
Because it hangs suspended from above.
Good friend, so worthlessly complete,
So deftly small, so roundly neat,
The puniest apple being ripe
Will ne'er exceed that pigmy type;
But the ripe crab is worst of all-
At once full-grown, and sour, and small.
A Frenchman gather'd salad for his dinner,
From banks where ass and pig their viands got,
And mused if all that lies 'twixt beast and sinner
Be eating salad with a sauce or not.
It did not strike him that the brute would never
Indulge his fancy with a thought so clever.
When he who told Ulysses' tale in song,
Roam'd blind and poor, compellid for bread to sue,
From his deep heart he mourn'd the shameful wrong,
Ah! sweet-voiced muses, are ye Sirens too ?
XXIV. A sleeper, sunk in dark discordant woes, Scarce heard sweet music whispering through his dream, When, 'mid his dull dead life, clear sounds arose, Sung far in air on some Italian theme; He shook his pains away, and half aghast Found Florence there, and all his dream was past.
I saw a flower-girl selling brightest flowers,
To deck with summer joys autumnal hours ;
With swiftest glance, light hand, and graceful speech,
The damsel gave a rose or pink to each ;
And where she came, there brighten'd many an eye ;
As if her basket held a warmer sky.
Ah! 'twas not there, but lay within the breast;
The sunshine warming that is nature's best.
In Florence Dante's voice no more is booming,
Nor Beatrice's face by Arno blooming :
But hearts that never heard the poet's glory
Have their own Heaven, and Hell, and Purgatory,
I stood amid the Pitti's gilded balls,
Where art with noble shapes had spread the walls,
Where Raphael's truthful grace, and Titian's glow,
Shone 'mid the austerest forms of Angelo.
Among the bright unmoving visions there
Were gazing groups alive, but not so fair;
Gay girls admired, and counts and lords went by,
Wits, artists, soldiers, connoisseurs, and I:
And there came in, like ghosts in dreamy scenes,
Three mantled, cowled, and barefoot Capuchins.
No stranger spectres e'er confused our life
Since Luther broke his bonds and took a wife.
The men look'd dull and harmless, cheerful too,
And stared as sagely round as travellers do ;
Yet sad the sight, and worst of all despairs,
To see contentment with a lot like theirs.
True, O Sage! that mortal man
Does no more than what he can;
But what can by man be done
Is a limit known to none.
XXIX. ON THE FAUN IN THE TRIBUNE OF THE FLORENCE GALLERY, Though no Bacchante treads with thee the lawn, Dance on, and clash thy cymbals, madcap Faun! Thy heart goes leaping tlırough each goatish limb, And shakes the flowers upon thy fountain's brim, While the nymphs lurk and watch, and nature's sky Breathes round thy horns, and drinks thy laughing cry. Though dead to our new world as funeral dust, So live thou on, and mock their dull distrust; For thou art life itself in stone, and they Who heed thee not are ghosts that flit by day.
RAPHAEL'S MADONNA DEL CARDELLINO.
Oh, Maid divine ! beholding in thy Son
Life more divine though first from thee begun,
Earth's loveliest art thou, wearing on thy brow
The thought of something lovelier still than thou.
THE TRIBUNE OF THE FLORENCE GALLERY.
Where Venus shuns and more attracts the eye,
A goddess chaste, though naked as the sky;
Where Raphael's maiden worships in her child
A new-born Heaven by nought less pure defiled :
Where prophets old, in self-oblivion strong,
From high walls breathe a woe on human wrong:
Where gods and godlike men are imaged round,
A nobler band than moves on earthly ground,
Bewilder'd mortals often mutely stare
To find how vast a life is that they share.
MICHAEL ANGELO'S STATUES ON THE TOMBS OF THE MEDICI, Ye crown'd unmoving truths that had your birth Before the swarms of things awoke on earth. While thus world-huge, star-high your peace endures, This busy life of ours cannot be yours. It quakes and cracks where'er our steps we thrust : Beneath your weight of calm 'twould fall to dust, Sky, seas, and caves, the night beyond the stars, Whose lone abyss no sound of morning jars. Your homes are these, O ye in whom we shrink, To see how calmly strength may rest and think.
THE MEDICEAN VENUS.
Woman divine! fair child of Grecian seas,
Whose sunny billows gird the Cyclades ;
Within all modest, wanting outward dress,
Thou fillest this new time with loveliness,
And seem'st, with head half-turned and earnest soul,
To hear afar thy natal waters roll.
Young joy of human hearts ! the earth to me
Is fairer now, because containing thee.
THE BELVIDERE APOLLO. Bold and beaming in triumph looks the Lord of the Sun, With new victory bright over the serpent won: High, O Herol thou standest unheeding of mortal ken; Therefore, with all thy glory filling the hearts of men.
SAN MINIATO, NEAR FLORENCE.
While slow on Miniato's height I roam,
And backward look to Brunelleschi's dome,
'Tis strange to think that here on many a day
Old Michael Angelo has paced his way;
And watching Florence, in his bosom found
A nobler world than that which lies around.
And purblind eyes are led astray
By those high truths from Reason's way.
'Mid all the tribes of airy fowl,
Nought is so wise as the horned owl:
Ifin daylight he opens his eyes by chance,
He shuts them again with a satisfied glance,
For the rays of the sun make all things dim, .
And the light within is enough for him.
While the hawk, the eagle, and birds as blind,
Look with their eyes at whate'er they fiud,
He in a method more sure by far.
Knows à priori what all things are ;
And is, in a word, the profoundest sage
That improves by darkness his twilight age.
Hail to thee, wise metaphysical bird !
Whose name in all dusky schools is heard ;
Live thou, and prosper and spread thy reign,
And soon will the sunshine intrude in vain.
The rubbish of facts will be all removed,
And Nature outvoted, and Light disproved ;
For the purest idea lies farthest from things,
And flash-like in darkness to being it springs.
Hail to thee, wise and horned owl!
Wisest of all that have worn the cowl ;
Greater than all that have e'er in the East
Their souls from the bondage of things released,
And, scorning to trace what earth displays,
Divined by a guess all Nature's ways."
Thous hapest, O sage! by dogma stern
The facts that some are content to learn ;
And, while thy sons thine art profess,
Ever shall flourish the praise of guess.
To build a temple, more we need than toil,
And piles of stone that crush their parent soil ;
The hearts of men must form its deep foundation ;
Its towers must rise on trusting aspiration.
I've known great wits whose wisdom all has lain
In saying nought is true that's not profane,
And holding mysteries false that are not plain.
Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.