Poems

The Wanderer: A Vision: Canto V

We left the cave. Be Fear (said I) defy'd!
Virtue (for thou art Virtue) is my guide.


By time-worn steps a steep ascent we gain,
Whose summit yields a prospect o'er the plain.
There, bench'd with turf, an oak our seat extends,
Whose top, a verdant, branch'd pavilion bends.
Vistas, with leaves, diversify the scene,
Some pale, some brown, and some of lively green.


Now, from the full-grown day a beamy show'r
Gleams on the lake, and gilds each glossy flow'r.
Gay insects sparkle in the genial blaze,
Various as light, and countless as its rays:
They dance on every stream, and pictur'd play,
'Till, by the wat'ry racer, snatch'd away.


Now, from yon range of rocks, strong rays rebound,
Doubling the day on flow'ry plains around:
King-cups beneath far-striking colours glance,
Bright as th' etherial glows the green expanse.
Gems of the field!-the topaz charms the sight,
Like these, effulging yellow streams of light.
From the same rocks, fall rills with soften'd force,
Meet in yon mead, and well a river's source.
Thro' her clear channel, shine her finny shoals,
O'er sands, like gold, the liquid crystal rolls.
Dimm'd in yon coarser moor, her charms decay,
And shape, thro' rustling reeds, a ruffled way.
Near willows short and bushy shadows throw:
Now lost, she seems thro' nether tracts to flow;
Yet, at yon point, winds out in silver state,
Like Virtue from a labyrinth of fate.
In length'ning rows, prone from the mountains, run
The flocks:-their fleeces glist'ning in the sun;
Her streams they seek, and, 'twixt her neighb'ring trees,
Recline in various attitudes of ease.
Where the herds sip, the little scaly fry,
Swift from the shore, in scatt'ring myriads fly.


Each liv'ry'd cloud, that round th' horizon glows,
Shifts in odd scenes, like earth, from whence it rose.
The bee hums wanton in yon jasmine bow'r,
And circling settles, and despoils the flow'r.
Melodious there the plumy songsters meet,
And call charm'd Echo from her arch'd retreat.
Neat-polish'd mansions rise in prospect gay;
Time-batter'd tow'rs frown awful in decay;
The sun plays glitt'ring on the rocks and spires,
And the lawn lightens with reflected fires.


Here Mirth, and Fancy's wanton train advance,
And to light measures turn the swimming dance.
Sweet, slow-pac'd Melancholy next appears,
Pompous in grief, and eloquent of tears.
Here Meditation shines, in azure drest,
All-starr'd with gems: a sun adorns her crest.
Religion, to whose lifted, raptur'd eyes
Seraphic hosts descend from opening skies;
Beauty, who sways the heart, and charms the sight;
Whose tongue is music, and whose smile delight;
Whose brow is majesty; whose bosom peace;
Who bad creation be, and chaos cease;
Whose breath perfumes the spring; whose eye divine
Kindled the sun, and gave its light to shine.
Here, in thy likeness, fair Ophelia, seen,
She throws kind lustre o'er th' enliven'd green.
Next her, Description, robed in various hues,
Invites attention from the pensive Muse!
The Muse!-she comes! refin'd the passions wait,
And Precept, ever winning, wise, and great.
The Muse! a thousand spirits wing the air:
(Once men, who made, like her, mankind their care)
Inamour'd round her press th' inspiring throng,
And swell to ecstacy her solemn song.


Thus in the dame each nobler grace we find,
Fair Wortley's angel-accent, eyes, and mind.
Whether her sight the dew-bright dawn surveys,
The noon's dry heat, or evening's temper'd rays,
The hours of storm, or calm, the gleby ground,
The coral'd sea, gem'd rock, or sky profound,
A Raphael's fancy animates each line,
Each image strikes with energy divine;
Bacon, and Newton in her thought conspire;
Not sweeter than her voice is Handel's lyre.


My hermit thus. She beckons us away:
Oh, let us swift the high behest obey!


Now thro' a lane, which mingling tracts have crost,
The way unequal, and the landscape lost,
We rove. The warblers lively tunes essay,
The lark on wing, the linnet on the spray,
While music trembles in their songful throats,
The bullfinch whistles soft his flute-like notes.
The bolder blackbird swells sonorous lays;
The varying thrush commands a tuneful maze;
Each a wild length of melody pursues;
While the soft-murm'ring, am'rous wood-dove cooes,
And when in spring these melting mixtures flow,
The cuckoo sends her unison of woe.


But as smooth seas are furrow'd by a storm;
As troubles all our tranquil joys deform;
So, loud through air, unwelcome noises sound,
And harmony's at once, in discord, drown'd.
From yon dark cypress, croaks the raven's cry;
As dissonant the daw, jay, chatt'ring pie:
The clam'rous crows abandon'd carnage seek,
And the harsh owl shrills out a sharp'ning shriek.


At the lane's end a high-lath'd gate's prefer'd,
To bar the trespass of a vagrant herd.
Fast by, a meagre mendicant we find,
Whose russet rags hang flutt'ring in the wind:
Years bow his back, a staff supports his tread,
And soft white hairs shade thin his palsy'd head.
Poor wretch!-Is this for charity his haunt?
He meets the frequent slight, and ruthless taunt.
On slaves of guilt oft smiles the squand'ring peer;
But passing knows not common bounty here.
Vain thing! in what dost thou superior shine?
His our first sire: what race more ancient thine?
Less backward trac'd, he may his lineage draw
From men whose influence kept the world in awe:
Whose worthless sons, like thee, perchance consum'd
Their ample store, their line to want was doom'd.
So thine may perish, by the course of things,
While his, from beggars re-ascend to kings.
Now lazar, as thy hardships I peruse,
On my own state instructed would I muse.
When I view greatness, I my lot lament,
Compar'd to thee, I snatch supreme content.
I might have felt, did heav'n not gracious deal,
A fate, which I must mourn to see thee feel.
But soft! the cripple our approach descries,
And to the gate, tho' weak, officious hies.
I spring preventive, and unbar the way,
Then, turning, with a smile of pity, say,
Here, friend!-this little copper alms receive,
Instance of will, without the pow'r to give.
Hermit, if here with pity we reflect,
How must we grieve, when learning meets neglect?
When god-like souls endure a mean restraint;
When gen'rous will is curb'd by tyrant want?
He truly feels what to distress belongs,
Who, to his private, adds a people's wrongs;
Merit's a mark, at which disgrace is thrown,
And ev'ry injur'd virtue is his own.
Such, their own pangs with patience here endure,
Yet there weep wounds, they are denied to cure,
Thus rich in poverty, thus humbly great,
And tho' depress'd, superior to their fate.
Minions in pow'r, and misers, 'mid their store,
Are mean in greatness, and in plenty poor.
What's pow'r, or wealth? Were they not form'd for aid,
A spring for virtue, and from wrongs a shade?
In pow'r we savage tyranny behold,
And wily av'rce owns polluted gold.
From golden sands her pride could Lybia raise,
Could she, who spreads no pasture, claim our praise?
Loath'd were her wealth, where rabid monsters breed;
Where serpents, pamper'd on her venom, feed,
No sheltry trees invite the Wand'rer's eye,
No fruits, no grain, no gums, her tracts supply;
On her vast wilds, no lovely prospects run;
But all lies barren, tho' beneath the sun.


My Hermit thus. I know thy soul believes,
'Tis hard vice triumphs, and that virtue grieves;
Yet oft affliction purifies the mind,
Kind benefits oft flow from means unkind.
Were the whole known, that we uncouth suppose,
Doubtless, would beauteous symmetry disclose.
The naked cliff, that singly rough remains,
In prospect dignifies the fertile plains;
Lead-colour'd clouds, in scatt'ring fragments seen,
Shew, tho' in broken views, the blue serene.
Severe distresses industry inspire;
Thus captives oft excelling arts acquire,
And boldly struggle thro' a state of shame,
To life, ease, plenty, liberty, and fame.
Sword-law has of



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