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Methought I heard a voice upon me call,
As listless in desponding mood I lay,
Whiling the melancholy hour away,
'Mid fears that did my fondest hopes inthrall.
'Twas not the trumpet voice of fame I heard,
Nor fortune's, nurse of impotence and care;
Nor yet the moanings deep of fell despair.
But oh! it was the voice of one that stirred
In every leaf! Sweet, sweet the accents came,
And stole in pure affections to my heart,
Healing within wounds bleeding 'neath the smart
Of bitterest woe. Up sprang my gladden'd frame
Restored, as henceforth brighter days to see ;-
Thy voice it was I heard, meek Piety.
Oft have I seen, ere time had plough'd my cheek,
Matrons and sires, who, punctual to the call
Of their loved church, on fast, or festival, Through the long year, the house of prayer would seek: By Christmas snows, by visitation bleak
Of Easter winds unscared, from hut or hall
They came to lowly bench or sculptured stall,
But with one fervour of devotion meek.
I see the places where they once were known,
And ask, surrounded ev'n by kneeling crowds,
Is ancient piety for ever flown ?
Alas! ev’n then they seem'd light fleecy clouds That, struggling through the western sky, have won Their pensive light from a departed sun!
Ore instant's thought beside the murmuring rill,
Where bees store sweetness in their honeyed scrips,
Where thrushes thrill, from gloomy pine-trees' tips, Their merry carols o'er each verdant hill; One moment's solitude, where the loud hymn
Is sung 'twixt heaven and earth by merry lark,
Heard both by man and list'ning cherubim,
One hour where quiet reigns, save when the dark
Tempest breaks the stillness—more intense,
When it hath pass'd in dread magnificence ;-
An instant's lonely joy in sylvan scenes,
Where Nature's face with health and vigour beams,
Is worth a century enbound in Fashion's thralls,
Amidst the hum of men, and miscall'd "pleasure's"
Itchin, when I beheld thy banks again,
Thy crumbling margin and thy silver breast,
On which the self-same tints still seem to rest;
Why feels my heart the shivering sense of pain ?
Is it—that many a summer's day is past
Since, in life's morn, I carol'd on thy side ?
Is it—that oft since then my heart has sighed
As youth and hope's delusive gleams flew past ?
Is it—that those who circled on thy shore,
Companions of my youth, now meet no more?
Whate'er the cause, upon thy banks I bend
Sorrowing, yet feel such solace at my heart,
As at the meeting of some long-lost friend,
From whom, in happier hours, we wept to part.
Non happiness, nor majesty, nor fame,
Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts, Shepherd, those herds whom tyranny makes tame,
Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts.
History is but the shadow of their shame,
Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts,
As to oblivion their blind millions fleet,
Staining that heaven with wicked imagery
Of their own likeness. What, are numbers knit
By force or custom? Man who man would be
Must rule the empire of himself: in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.