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When they ask us curious questions in a sweet confiding way,
We can only smile in wonder, hardly knowing what to say ;
As they sit in breathless silence, waiting for our kind replies,
What a world of mystic meaning dwells within the lifted eyes!
When the soul, all faint and weary, falters in the upward way,
And the clouds around us gather, shutting out each starry ray ;
Then the merry voice of childhood seems a soft and soothing
List we to its silvery cadence, and our hearts grow glad again.
Hath this world of ours no angels? Do our dimly shaded eyes
Ne'er behold the seraph’s glory in its meek and lowly guise ?
Can we see the little children, ever beautiful and mild,
And again repeat the story--nothing but a little child ?
The same facile American pen thus daintily discourses on the Rain :
Like a gentle joy descending, to the earth a glory lending,
Comes the pleasant rain :
Fairer now the Aowers are growing,
Fresher now the winds are blowing,
Gladder waves the grain :
Grove and forest, field and mountain,
Bathing in the crystal fountain,
Drinking in the inspiration, offer up a glad oblation-
All around, about, above us,
Things we love, and things that love us,
Bless the gentle rain.
Beautiful, and still, and holy, like the spirit of the lowly,
Comes the quiet rain : 'Tis a fount of joy distilling, and the lyre of earth is trilling,
Swelling to a strain : Nature opens wide her bosom, bursting buds begin to blossom,
To her very soul 'tis stealing, all the springs of life unsealing, Singing stream and rushing river drink it in, and praise the Giver
Of the blessed rain.
We have already luxuriated over passages from the Pleasures of Imagination, and lingered lovingly amid the sweet images bodied forth by Rogers in the Pleasures of Memory: shall we now hold colloquy with CAMPBELL, and catch some glimpses of his bright visions of Hope? He thus announces his beautiful theme :
At summer eve, when Heaven's ethereal bow
Spans with bright arch the glittering hills below,
Why to yon mountain turns the musing eye,
Whose sun-bright summit mingles with the sky?
Why do those cliffs of shadowy tint appear
More sweet than all the landscape smiling near ?
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.
Thus, with delight, we linger to survey.
The promised joys of life's unmeasured way,
Thus, from afar, each dim-discovered scene
More pleasing seems than all the past hath been,
And every form, that Fancy can repair
From dark oblivion, glows divinely there.
With thee, sweet Hope! resides the heavenly light,
That pours remotest rapture on the sight;
Thine is the charm of life's bewildered way,
That calls each slumbering passion into play.
Auspicious Hope! in thy sweet garden grow
Wreaths for each toil, a charm for every woe.
Here is a fine apostrophe to Domestic Love :
Who hath not paused while Beauty's pensive eye
Asked from his heart the homage of a sigh?
And say, without our hopes, without our fears,
Without the home that plighted love endears,
Without the smile from partial beauty won,
Oh, what were man?-a world without a sun.
Till Hymen brought his love-delighted hour,
There dwelt no joy in Eden's rosy bower!
In vain the viewless seraph, lingering there,
At starry midnight charmed the silent air ;
In vain the wild bird carolled on the steep,
To hail the sun, slow wheeling from the deep;
In vain, to soothe the solitary shade,
Aërial notes in mingling measure played ;
The summer wind that shook the spangled tree,
The whispering wave, the murmur of the bee ;-
Still slowly passed the melancholy day,
And still the stranger wist not where to stray.
The world was sad! the garden was a wild!
And man, the hermit, sighed—till woman smiled!
This beautiful passage closes the poem :
Eternal Hope! when yonder spheres sublime
Pealed their first notes to sound the march of Time,
Thy joyous youth began—but not to fade.
When all the sister planets have decayed ;
When, rapt in fire, the realms of ether glow,
And Heaven's last thunder shakes the world below;
Thou, undismayed, shalt o'er the ruins smile,
And light thy torch at Nature's funeral pile !
“ I do not think I overrate the merits of the Pleasures of Hope, whether taking it in its parts or as a whole, in preferring it to any didactic poem of equal length in the English language. It is like a long fit of inspiration.” Campbell wrote it at Edinburgh when he was but twenty-one; and so prolonged was its popularity, that it ultimately brought to its author the sum of four thousand five hundred pounds. His patriotic Odes are so heroic and stirring, and bis more serious poems are so inspiring and impressive, that it is no wonder they should have become to us as “ household words.” What fire and energy characterize those grand naval Odes, The Battle of the Baltic, and Ye Mariners of England ; and how sublimely roll out the stanzas of his Last Man, What's Hallowed Ground and The Rainbow !
Irving thought Campbell's Hohenlinden contained more grandeur and moral sublimity than is to be found anywhere else in the same compass of English poetry. This, like most of his descriptive poems, Campbell seems to have written under the very inspiration of the scene.
Campbell's lyrics have an exquisite grace and delicacy of touch about them; for example, the following :
Withdraw not yet those lips and fingers,
Whose touch to mine is rapture's spell;
Life's joy for us a moment lingers,
And death seems in that word—farewell!
The hour that bids us part and go,
It sounds not yet-oh no, no, Ho!
Time, whilst I gaze upon thy sweetness,
Flies, like a courser nigh the goal :
To-morrow where shall be his feetness,
When thou art parted from my soul?
Our hearts shall beat, our tears shall flow,
But not together-oh no, no!
How delicious is the winning
Of a kiss at Love's beginning,
When two mutual hearts are sighing
For the knot there's no untying!
Yet remember, midst your wooing,
Love has bliss, but love has ruing;
Other smiles may make you fickle,-
Tears for other charms may trickle.
Love he comes, and Love he tarries,
Just as fate or fancy carries;
Longest stays when sorest chidden,--
Laughs and Aies--when pressed and bidden.
'Tis not the loss of love's assurance,
It is not doubting what thou art,
But 'tis the too, too long endurance
Of absence that afflicts my heart.
The fondest thoughts two hearts can cherish,
When each is lonely doomed to weep,
Are fruits on desert isles that perish,
Or riches buried in the deep.
What though, untouched by jealous madness,
Our bosom's peace may fall to wreck,
Th’undoubting heart, that breaks with sadness,
Is but more slowly doomed to break.
Absence! is not the soul torn by it,
From more than light, or life, or breath?
'Tis Lethe's gloom, but not its quiet, --
The pain, without the peace of death!