Let me ship my oars a little—
Drifting idly down the stream,
From the twilight towards the sunlight—
While I live again that dream.
On the cragged sun-tinted summit
Of a mountain pile I stand,
Hugely grand, and wildly lovely
Visions rise on every hand.
Calms of sky are blue about me,
Windy currents on me beat;
Broken fissures dark with thicket,
Cliffs and gaps are at my feet—
To the Northward sweeps the mountain,
Turret-spurred and larch-embrowed—
Heaving, swelling, crouching, curving,
To the awful headland “cloud”
Which o’erlooks a widening plain-land,
Flanked with rugged outs and ins,
Whence the damps arise that, floating,
Mist the foreheads of the Mins.
To the South a dusky turret
From the highest apex climbs,
Like a fragment of some giant
Bulwark of the feudal times;
Thence the mountain breaks and straggles
Roughly to the vale afar,
In a score of ragged plateaus,
Girt with gleaming shale and spar.
And among the knolls and hollows,
Villas, blocks, and chimneys rise;
All a-stir with toiling livers,
All a-pant with enterprise.
Eastward, where adoring Eos
Wakens Goea’s Memnon lyre,
Rise the many-shaped and broken
Torrent-hills of Staffordshire;
Crowding upward like the billows
On a tempest tortured sea;
’Mongst whose scalloped crests and curvings
Throbs a monster Industry.
To the West, a vast campagna,
Where a bay might once have been,
Suns its wide, recumbent substance,
Liveried o’er with gold and green;
Forest-braided, with a prolix
Growth of huge umbrageous trees,
Shrinking ’neath a tickling wind-sprite,
Like the laughter of the seas.
Sudden gleams of rural mansions,
Sloping roofs, and glinting walls,
Pinnacled, patrician halls,
Where the beeches crowd the thickest
On the sward; and here and there
Taper spire, and browning belfry
Climbing, clasp the upper air;
Far-seen stacks of grimy chimneys,
Rolls of smoke, and jets of steam
Crowd upon my sweeping vision,
Stud the current of my dream.
And afar, where mid the ether
Glows a white translucid mist,
Where the scene is distance-softened,
Summer-shot, and silver-kissed,
Glamour-wrapt, as wraiths of wonder
Hover round old fairy tales,
In a wild serrated sky-line,
Rise the frontier rocks of Wales;
And around them, vaguely blended,
Vapoury hues are grouped and piled;
And above them, cloud-wreath curtains,
Protean-gleamed, are looped and coiled.
Radiant is the vasty vision,
Sunset-lit, or dawn, or noon;
Thrilling! ’neath the sleepless vigil
Of a white September moon.
Other forms and other features
Rise before me, pause, retire;
Stately forms endued with manhood,
Noble son and generous sire;
Budding children, blooming matrons,
Mother-faces calm with care;
Forms with coils of woman-glory
Circling foreheads passing fair!
And the thrill of music haunts me
Like the thoughts of master-minds,
And a tender voice a-singing
Sweet and low as autumn winds.
Ah! but not the gorgeous landscape
’Neath the still cerulean sky;
Not the shapes of grace and beauty,
Though a sweetness and a joy;
Not the music, not the singing,
Revelations though they be,
Strike the deepest chords within me,
On the harp of memory:
But the strings that throb the sweetest,
And the bonds that closest twine,
Are the hands that came to clasp me,
Are the eyes that glowed in mine;
Are the lips that bade me welcome;
Feet that came at sorrow’s call;
Are the hearts that rose to love me,
Though a stranger to them all!
Oh! ’tis sweet to feel the twinings
Of a fond solicitude,
Stand amid the charmèd circle
Of a noble brotherhood!
And I tell you, ye who loved me,
Tell you now, and once for all—
Though the winds of sorrow wither,
Fortune deal her bitterest gall,
Though deserted, scorned, forgotten,
Evermore the memory
Of your kindness—never-fading—
Will come back to gladden me.
Heaven bless you! God, I thank Thee
That, although of much bereft,
Much—so much—of beauty, blessing,
Joy, and tenderness is left!