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76 ON THE CHRISTENING OF A FRIEND's child.
Associates of thy name, sweet Child !
These Virtues may'st thou win;
With face as eloquently mild
To say, they lodge within.
So, when her tale of days all flown,
Thy Mother shall be miss'd here ;
When Heaven at length shall claim its own,
And angels snatch their sister ;
Some hoary-headed friend, perchance,
May gaze with stifled breath;
And oft, in momentary trance,
Forget the waste of death.
Ev'n thus a lovely rose I view'd
In summer-swelling pride;
Nor mark'd the bud, that green and rude,
Peep'd at the rose's side.
It chanc'd, I pass’d again that way
In Autumn's latest hour,
And wond'ring saw the self-same spray
Rich with the self-same flower.
Ah fond deceit! the rude green bud
Alike in shape, place, name,
Had bloom'd, where bloom'd its parent stud,
Another and the same!
No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
Distinguishes the west, no long thin slip
Of sullen light, no obscure trembling hues.
Come, we will rest on this old mossy bridge !
You see the glimmer of the stream beneath,
But hear no murmuring; it flows silently
O'er its soft bed of verdure. All is still,
A balmy night! and though the stars be dim,
Yet let us think upon the vernal showers
That gladden the green earth, and we shall find
A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the nightingale begins its song,
"Most musical, most melancholy *” bird !
A melancholy bird ? O idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
-But some night-wandring man, whose heart was pierced
With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper, or neglected love,
(And so, poor wretch! filled all things with himself,
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrows) he and such as he
First named these notes a melancholy strain:
And many a poet echoes the conceit;
Poet, who hath been building up the rhyme
When he had better far have stretched his limbs
Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell,
By sun or moon-light, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song
And of his fame forgetful! so his fame
Should share in nature's immortality,
A venerable thing! and so his song
Should make all nature lovlier, and itself
Be loved, like nature !-But 'twill not be so;
And youths and maidens most poetical,
Who lose the deep’ning twilights of the spring
In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still
Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs
O’er Philomela's pity-pleading strains.
My friend, and my friend's sister! we have learnt
A different lore: we may not thus profane
Nature's sweet voices always full of love
And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale
That crowds, and huries, and precipitates,
With fast thick warble, his delicious notes,
As he were fearful that an April night
Would be too short for him to utter forth
His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul
Of all its music! and I know a grove
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge,
Which the great lord inhabits not : and so
This grove is wild with tangling underwood,
And the trim walks are broken up, and grass,
Thin grass and king-cups grow within the paths.
But never elsewhere in one place I knew
So many Nightingales : and far and near
In wood and thicket over the wide grove
They answer and provoke each other's songs-
With skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical, and swift jug jug,
And one low piping sound more sweet than all-
Stirring the air with such an harmony,
That, should you close your eyes, you might almost
Forget it was not day.
A most gentle maid Who dwelleth in her hospitable home Hard by the castle, and at latest eve (Even like a lady vowed and dedicate To something more than nature in the grove) Glides through the pathways; she knows all their notes, That gentle maid ! and oft, a moment's space, What time the moon was lost behind a cloud, Hath heard a pause of silence: till the moon Emerging, hath awakened earth and sky With one sensation, and those wakeful birds Have all burst forth with choral minstrelsy, As if one quick and sudden gale had swept An hundred airy harps! And she hath watched Many a Nightingale perch giddily On blos’my twig still swinging from the breeze, And to that motion tune his wanton song, Like tipsy joy that reels with tossing head.
Farewell, O warbler! till to-morrow eve,
And you, my friends ! farewell, a short farewell !
We have been loitering long and pleasantly,
And now for our dear homes. That strain again!
Full fain it would delay me! My dear babe,
Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp,
How he would place his hand beside his hear,
His little hand, the small forefinger up,
And bid us listen! and I deem it wise
To make him Nature's playmate. He knows well
The evening star : and once when he awoke
In most distressful mood (some inward pain
Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream)
I hurried with him to our orchard plot,
And he beholds the moon, and hushed at once
Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently,
While his fair eyes that swam with undropt tears
Did glitter in the yellow moon-beam! Well-
It is a father's tale. But if that Heaven
Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up
Familiar with these songs, that with the night
He may associate joy! Once more farewell,
Sweet Nightingale ! once more, my friends ! farewell.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay
Beside the ruined tower.