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KNOWING within myself the manner in which tnis Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.
What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they, if I thought a year's castigation would do them any good ;-it will not, the foundations are too sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.
This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honor of English literature.
The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted : thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.
I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece, and dulled its brightness : for I wish to try once more, before I bid it farewell.
TEIGNMOUTH, April 10, 1818
A THING of beauty is a joy for ever :
Nor do we merely feel these essences For one short hour; no, even as the trees That whisper round a temple become soon Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, The passion poesy, glories infinite, Haunt us till they become a cheering light Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast, They alway must be with us, or we die.
Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
music of the name has gone
Be all about me when I make an end.
Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed So plenteously all weed-hidden roots Into o'erhanging boughs, and precious fruits. And it had gloomy shades, sequester's deep, Where no man went; and if from shepherd's keep A lamb stray'd far a-down those inmost glens, Never again saw he the happy pens Whither his brethren, bleating with content, Over the hills at every night-fall went. Among the shepherds 'twas believed ever, That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever From the white flock, but pass'd unworried By any wolf, or pard with prying head, Until it came to some unfooted plains Where fed the herds of Pan: ay, great his gains Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many, Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny, And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly To a wide lawn, whence one could only see Stems thronging all around between the swell Of tuft and slanting branches : who could tell The freshness of the space of heaven above, Edged round with dark tree tops? through which a dove Would often beat its wings, and often too A little cloud would move across the blue.