Sidebilder
PDF

And curling tendrils, gracefully disposed,

Follow the nimble finger of the fair,

A wreath that cannot fade, of flowers that blow

With most sucoess when all besides decay.

The poet's or historian's page, by one

Made vocal for the amusement of the rest;

The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds

The touch of many a trembling chord shakes out;

And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct,

And in the charming strife triumphant still,

Beguile the night, and set a keener edge

On female industry; the threaded steel

Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds.

The volume closed, the customary rites

Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal,

Such as the mistress of the world once found

Delicious, when her patriots of high note,

Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,

And under an old oak's domestic shade,

Enjoyed, spare feast! a radish and an egg.

Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,

Nor such as with a frown forbids the play

Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth.

Nor do we madly, like an impious world,

Who deem religion frenzy, and the God

That made them an intruder on their joys,

Start at his awful name, or deem his praise

A jarring note: themes of a graver tone

Exciting oft our gratitude and love,

While we retrace with memory's pointing wand

That calls the past to our exact review,

The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,

The disappointed foe, deliverance found

Unlooked for, life preserved and peaoe restored,

Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.

Oh, evenings worthy of the gods! exclaimed

The Sabine bard. Oh, evenings, I reply,

More to be prized and coveted than yours,

As more illumined and with nobler truths,

That I and mine and those we love, enjoy.

Is winter hideous in a garb like this?
Needs he the tragic fur, the smoke of lamps,
The pent-up breath of an unsavoury throng,
To thaw him into feeling, or the smart
And snappish dialogue that flippant wits
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile?
The self-complacent actor when he views
(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house,)
The slope of faces from the floor to the roof,
(As if one master-spring controlled them all,)
Relaxed into an universal grin,
Sees not a countenance there that speaks a joy

[graphic]

'' Placed at some vacant cornet of the board, Learn every trick, and soon play all the game.'

Page 169.

Half so refined or so sincere as ours.

Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks

That idleness has ever yet contrived

To fill the void of an unfurnished brain,

To palliate dulness and give time a shove.

Time as he passes us, has a dove's wing,

Unsoiled and swift and of a silken sound.

But the world's time, is time in masquerade.

Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledged

With motley plumes, and where tue peacock shows

His azure eyes, is tinctured black and red

With spots quadrangular of diamond form,

Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife,

And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.

What should be, and what was an hour-glass once

Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mast

Well does the work of his destructive scythe.

Thus decked he charms a world whom fashion blinds

To his true worth, most pleased when idle most,

Whose only happy are their wasted hours.

Even misses, at whose age their mothers wore

The back-string and the bib, assume the dress

Of womanhood, sit pupils m the school

Of card-devoted time, and night by night

Placed at some vacant corner of the board,

Learn every trick, and soon play all the game.

But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,

Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?

As he that travels far, oft turns aside

To view some rugged rock or mouldering tower,

Which seen delights him not; then coming home,

Describes and prints it, that the world may know

How far he went for what was nothing worth;

So I with brush in hand and pallet spread

With colours mixed for a far different use,

Paint cards and dolls, and every idle thing

That fancy finds m her excursive flights.

Come evening once again, season of peace, Return sweet evening, and continue long! Methinks I see thee in the streaky west, With matron-step slow-moving, while the night Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employed In letting fall the curtain of repose On bird and beast, the other charged for man With sweet oblivion of the cares of day; Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid Like homely-featured night, of clustering gems, A star or two just twinkling on thy brow Suffices thee; save that the moon Is thine No less than hers, not worn indeed on high With ostentatious pageantry, but set With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,

Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift.
And whether I devote thy gentle hours
To books, to music, or the poet's toil,
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit;
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels
When they command whom man was born to please,
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Goliath, might have seen his giant bulk
Whole without stooping, towering crest and all,
My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile
With faint illumination that uplifts
The shadow to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame.
Not undelightful is an hour to me
So spent in parlour twilight; such a gloom
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind,
The mind contemplative, with some new theme
Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all.
Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial powers,
That never feel a stupor, know no pause
Nor need one. I am conscious, and confess
Fearless, a soul that does not always think.
Me oft has fancy ludicrous and wild
Soothed with a waking dream of houses, towers,
Trees, churches, and strange visages expressed
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gazed, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amused have I quiescent watched
The sooty films that play upon the bars
Pendulous, and foreboding in the view
Of superstition prophesying still
Though still deceived, some stranger's near approach.
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose
In indolent vacuity of thought,
And sleeps and is refreshed. Meanwhile the face
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were tasked to his full strength, absorbed and lost
Thus oft reclined at ease, I lose an hour
At evening, till at length the freezing blast
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home
The recollected powers, and snapping short
The glassy threads with which the fancy weaves
Her brittle toys, restores me to myself.
How calm is my recess! and how the frost
Raging abroad, and the rough wind, endear

« ForrigeFortsett »