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But this is not my theme; and I return
To that which is immediate, and require
Those who find contemplation in the urn,
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while—a passing guest,
Where he became a being-whose desire
Was to be glorious; 'twas a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew
How to make madness beautiful, and cast
O’er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
His love was passion's essence—as a tree
On fire by lightning ; with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted; for to be
Thus, and enamour'd, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o'erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distemper'd though it seems.
This breathed itself to life in Julie, this
Invested her with all that's wild and sweet;
This hallow'd, too, the memorable kiss
Which every morn his fever'd lip would greet,
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
Flash'd the thrill'd spirit's love-devouring heat ;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest,
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
His life was one long war with self-sought focs,
Or friends by him self-banish’d: for his mind
Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, and chose
For its own cruel sacrifice the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
But he was phrensied,—wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find ;
But he was phrensied by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.
For then he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more:
Did he not this for France? which lay before
Bow'd to the inborn tyranny of years ?
Broken and trembling to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up to too much wrath, which follows o’ergrown fears?
They made themselves a fearful monument !
The wreck of old opinions—things which grew
Breathed from the birth of time: the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour re-fillid, As heretofore, because ambition was self-will’d.
But this will not endure, nor be endured!
Mankind have felt their strength, and made it felt.
They might have used' it better, but, allured
By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt
On one another; Pity ceased to melt
With her once natural charities. But they,
Who in Oppression's darkness caved had dwelt,
They were not eagles, nourish’d with the day;
What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey?
What deep wounds ever closed without a scar?
The heart's bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquish’d, bear
Silence, but not submission : in his lair
Fix'd Passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years; none need despair :
It came, it cometh, and will come,—the power
To punish or forgive-in one we shall be slower.
Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth’s troubled waters for a purer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved
Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
LXXXVI. It is the hush of night, and all between Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear, Mellow'd and mingling, yet distinctly seen, Save darken’d Jura, whose capt heights appear Precipitously steep ; and drawing near, There breathes a living fragrance from the shore, Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar, Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more;