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To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled With a sedate and all-enduring eye;
When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child, He stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him piled.
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use Till they were turn'd unto thine overthrow : "Tis but a worthless world to win or lose; So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.
If, like a tower upon a headland rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Their admiration thy best weapon shone;
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire
This makes the madmen who have made men mad By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings, Founders of sects and systems, to whom add Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things
Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs,
Their breath is agitation, and their life
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
I send the lilies given to me;
Though long before thy hand they touch,
The river nobly foams and flows,
NATURE THE CONSOLER
(CANTO III, lxviii-lxxv)
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face, The mirror where the stars and mountains view The stillness of their aspect in each trace Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue: There is too much of man here, to look through With a fit mind the might which I behold; But soon in me shall Loneliness renew Thoughts hid, but not less cherish'd than of old, Ere mingling with the herd had penn'd me in their
To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind:
We may deplore and struggle with the coil, In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong Midst a contentious world, striving where none are
There, in a moment we may plunge our years
To those that walk in darkness: on the sea
I live not in myself, but I become
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Is it not better, then, to be alone, And love Earth only for its earthly sake? By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone, Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake, Which feeds it as a mother who doth make A fair but froward infant her own care, Kissing its cries away as these awake ;— Is it not better thus our lives to wear, Than join the crushing crowd, doom'd to inflict or
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
Class'd among creatures, when the soul can flee, And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.
And thus I am absorb'd, and this is life: I look upon the peopled desert past, As on a place of agony and strife, Where, for some sin, to Sorrow I was cast, To act and suffer, but remount at last With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring, Though young, yet waxing vigorous as the blast Which it would cope with, on delighted wing, Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being
And when, at length, the mind shall be all free From what it hates in this degraded form, Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be Existent happier in the fly and worm,When elements to elements conform, And dust is as it should be, shall I not Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm? The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot? Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?
Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part Of me and of my soul, as I of them? Is not the love of these deep in my heart With a pure passion? should I not contemn All objects, if compared with these? and stem A tide of suffering, rather than forego Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm Of those whose eyes are only turn'd below, Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not