To the Reverend George Coleridge, of Ottery St. Mary, Devon
A blessed lot hath he, who having past His youth and early manhood in the stir And turmoil of the world, retreats at length, With cares that move, not agitate the heart, To the same dwelling where his father dwelt; And haply views his tottering little ones Embrace those aged knees, and climb that lap, On which first kneeling his own infancy Lisped its brief prayer. Such, O my earliest friend! Thine and thy brothers' favorable lot. At distance did ye climb life's upland road, Yet cheered and cheering: now fraternal love Hath drawn you to one centre. Be your days Holy, and blest and blessing may ye live!
To me th' Eternal Wisdom hath dispensed A different fortune and more different mind.-- Me from the spot where first I sprang to light, Too soon transplanted, ere my soul had fixed Its first domestic loves; and hence through life Chasing chance-started friendships. A brief while Some have preserved me from life's pelting ills; But, like a tree with leaves of feeble stem, If the clouds lasted, or a sudden breeze Ruffled the boughs, they on my head at once Dropt the collected shower: and some most false, False and fair-foliaged as the manchineel, Have tempted me to slumber in their shade E'en mid the storm; then breathing subtlest damps, Mixed their own venom with the rain from heaven, That I woke poisoned! But (the praise be His Who gives us all things) more have yielded me Permanent shelter: and beside one friend, I, as beneath the covert of an oak, Have raised a lowly shed, and know the names Of husband and of father; nor unhearing Of that divine and nightly-whispering voice, Which from my childhood to maturer years Spake to me of predestinated wreaths, Bright with no fading colors! Yet at times My soul is sad, that I have roamed through life Still most a stranger, most with naked heart, At mine own home and birth-place: chiefly then, When I remember thee, my earliest friend! Thee, who didst watch my boyhood and my youth; Didst trace my wanderings with a father's eye; And, boding evil yet still hoping good, Rebuked each fault and wept o'er all my woes. Who counts the beatings of the lonely heart, That Being knows, how I have loved thee ever, Loved as a brother, as a son revered thee! O 'tis to me an ever new delight, To talk of thee and thine; or when the blast Of the shrill winter, rattling our rude sash, Endears the cleanly hearth and social bowl; Or when, as now, on some delicious eve, We in our sweet sequestered orchard-plot Sit on the tree crooked earthward; whose old boughs, That hand above us in an arborous roof, Stirred by the faint gale of departing May, Send their loose blossoms slanting o'er our heads!
Nor dost thou sometimes recall those hours, When with the joy of hope thou gav'st thine ear To my wild firstling lays. Since then my song Hath sounded deeper notes, such as beseem Of that sad wisdom, folly leaves behind; Or the high raptures of prophetic faith; Or such as, tuned to these tumultuous times, Cope with the tempest's swell! These various songs, Which I have framed in many a various mood, Accept, my brother; and (for some perchance Will strike discordant on thy milder mind) If aught of error or intemperate truth Should meet thine ear, think thou that riper age Will calm it down, and let thy loves forgive it!
To The River Otter
Dear native brook! wild streamlet of the West! How many various-fated years have passed, What happy and what mournful hours, since last I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast, Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep impressed Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes I never shut amid the sunny ray, But straight with all their tints thy waters rise, Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey, And bedded sand that, veined with various dyes, Gleamed through thy bright transparence! On my way, Visions of childhood! oft have ye beguiled Lone manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs: Ah! that once more I were a careless child!