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Methought I saw the footsteps of a throne
Which mists and vapours from mine eyes did shroud-
Nor view of who might sit thereon allowed ;
But all the steps and ground about were strown
With sights the ruefullest that flesh and bone
Ever put on; a miserable crowd,
Sick, hale, old, young, who cried before that cloud,
'Thou art our king, O Death ! to thee we groan.'
Those steps I clomb; the mists before me gave
Smooth way: and I beheld the face of one
Sleeping alone within a mossy cave,
With her face up to heaven ; that seemed to have
Pleasing remembrance of a thought foregone ;
A lovely Beauty in a summer grave !
[THE SHOCK OF BEREAVEMENT.]
Surprised by joy-impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport-Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find ?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind -
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss ?—That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.
[Concluding sonnet of the series 'To the River Duddon,' 1820.).
I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away.–Vain sympathies !
For, backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide ;
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide;
The Form remains, the Function never dies;
While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish ;-be it so !
Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour ;
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith’s transcendent
We feel that we are greater than we know.
From low to high doth dissolution climb,
And sink from high to low, along a scale
Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail ;
A musical but melancholy chime,
Which they can hear who meddle not with crime,
Nor avarice, nor over-anxious care.
Truth fails not ; but her outward forms-that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more ; drop like the tower sublime
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
His crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of Time.
To LADY FITZGERALD, IN HER SEVENTIETH YEAR.
Such age how beautiful! O Lady bright,
Whose mortal lineaments seem all refined
By favouring Nature and a saintly Mind
To something purer and more exquisite
Than flesh and blood ; whene'er thou meet’st my sight,
When I behold thy blanched unwithered cheek,
Thy temples fringed with locks of gleaming white,
And head that droops because the soul is meek,
Thee with the welcome Snowdrop I compare ;
That child of winter, prompting thoughts that climb
From desolation toward the genial prime;
Or with the Moon conquering earth's misty air,
And filling more and more with crystal light
As pensive Evening deepens into night.
ON THE DEPARTURE OF SIR WALTER SCOTT FROM ABBOTSFORD, FOR NAPLES.
A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,
Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light
Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height:
Spirits of Power, assembled there, complain
For kindred Power departing from their sight;
While Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe strain,
Saddens his voice again, and yet again.
Lift up your hearts, ye Mourners! for the might
Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes ;
Blessings and prayers in nobler retinue
Than sceptred king or laurelled conqueror knows,
Follow this wondrous Potentate. Be true,
Ye winds of ocean, and the midland sea,
Walting your Charge to soft Parthenope!
Wansfell !! this Household has a favoured lot,
Living with liberty on thee to gaze,
To watch while Morn first crowns thee with her rays,
Or when along thy breast serenely float
Evening's angelic clouds. Yet ne'er a note
Hath sounded (shame upon the Bard !) thy praise : For all that thou, as if from heaven, hast brought
Of glory lavished on our quiet days.
Bountiful Son of Earth! when we are gone
From every object dear to mortal sight,
As soon we shall be, may these words attest
How oft, to elevate our spirits, shone
Thy visionary majesties of light,
How in thy pensive glooms our hearts found rest.
(Dec. 24, 1842.)
[SAMUEL Rogers was born at Stoke Newington in 1763 and died in 1855. The dates of his principal poems are—Pleasures of Memory 1793, Epistle to a Friend 1798, Human Life 1819, Italy (complete edition) 1834.]
When a poet has become a poet of the past and in the natural course of things his poetry has ceased to be talked about, it is not easy to ascertain how far it may or may not have ceased to be read. Has it ceased to be bought? The answer to that question might be accepted in most cases as answering the other. But in the case of Rogers an element of ambiguity was introduced long since. When a well-known firm some fifty years ago expressed a doubt whether the public would provide a market for a volume he wished them to publish, Rogers, in a tone half serious, half comic, said—I will make them buy it ;' and being a rich man and a great lover of art, he sent for Turner and Stothard, and a volume appeared with such adornments as have never been equalled before or since. It was called by a sarcastic friend of mine “Turner illustrated.'
The Pleasures of Memory is an excellent specimen of what Wordsworth calls the accomplishment of verse'; and it was well worthy to attract attention and admiration at the time when it appeared ; for at that time poetry, with few exceptions, was to be distinguished from prose by versification and little else. The Pleasures of Memory is an essay in verse, not wanting in tender sentiment and just reflection, expressed, gracefully no doubt, but with a formal and elaborate grace, and in studiously pointed and carefully poised diction, such as the heroic couplet had been trained to assume since the days of Pope. In 1793 very different days were approaching-days in which poetry was to break its chains, and formality to be thrown to the winds. The didactic dullness of the eighteenth century was presently to be supplanted by the romantic