Friend of the Wise ! and Teacher of the Good ! Into my heart have I received that Lay More than historic, that prophetic Lay Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright) Of the foundations and the building up Of a Human Spirit thou hast dared to tell What may be told, to the understanding mind Revealable ; and what within the mind By vital breathings secret as the soul Of vernal growth, oft quickens in the heart Thoughts all too deep for words !--
Theme hard as high ! Of smiles spontaneous, and mysterious fears (The first-born they of Reason and twin-birth), Of tides obedient to external force, And currents self-determined, as might seem, Or by some inner Power ; of moments awful, Now in thy inner life, and now abroad, When power streamed from thee, and thy soul received The light reflected, as a light bestowed-- Of fancies fair, and milder hours of youth, Hyblean murmurs of poetic thought Industrious in its joy, in vales and glens Native or outland, lakes and famous hills ! Or on the lonely high-road, when the stars Were rising ; or by secret mountain-streams, The guides and the companions of thy way !
Of more than Fancy, of the Social Sense Distending wide, and man beloved as man, Where France in all her towns lay vibrating Like some becalmed bark beneath the burst Of Heaven's immediate thunder, when no cloud Is visible, or shadow on the main. For thou wert there, thine own brows garlanded, Amid the tremor of a realm aglow, Amid the mighty nation jubilant, When from the general heart of human kind Hope sprang forth like a full-born Diety ! --Of that dear Hope afflicted and struck down, So summoned homeward, thenceforth calm and sure From the dread watch-tower of man's absolute self, With light unwaning on her eyes, to look Far on--herself a glory to behold, The Angel of the vision ! Then (last strain) Of Duty, chosen Laws controlling choice, Action and Joy !--An Orphic song indeed, A song divine of high and passionate thoughts To their own music chaunted !
O great Bard ! Ere yet that last strain dying awed the air, With stedfast eye I viewed thee in the choir Of ever-enduring men. The truly great Have all one age, and from one visible space Shed influence ! They, both in power and act, Are permanent, and Time is not with them, Save as it worketh for them, they in it. Nor less a sacred Roll, than those of old, And to be placed, as they, with gradual fame Among the archives of mankind, thy work Makes audible a linked lay of Truth, Of Truth profound a sweet continuous lay, Not learnt, but native, her own natural notes ! Ah ! as I listened with a heart forlorn, The pulses of my being beat anew : And even as Life returns upon the drowned, Life's joy rekindling roused a throng of pains-- Keen pangs of Love, awakening as a babe Turbulent, with an outcry in the heart ; And Fears self-willed, that shunned the eye of Hope ; And Hope that scarce would know itself from Fear ; Sense of past Youth, and Manhood come in vain, And Genius given, and Knowledge won in vain ; And all which I had culled in wood-walks wild, And all which patient toil had reared, and all, Commune with thee had opened out--but flowers Strewed on my corse, and borne upon my bier, In the same coffin, for the self-same grave !
That way no more ! and ill beseems it me, Who came a welcomer in herald's guise, Singing of Glory, and Futurity, To wander back on such unhealthful road, Plucking the poisons of self-harm ! And ill Such intertwine beseems triumphal wreaths Strew'd before thy advancing !
Nor do thou, Sage Bard ! impair the memory of that hour Of thy communion with my nobler mind By pity or grief, already felt too long ! Nor let my words import more blame than needs. The tumult rose and ceased : for Peace is nigh Where Wisdom's voice has found a listening heart. Amid the howl of more than wintry storms, The Halcyon hears the voice of vernal hours Already on the wing.
Eve following eve, Dear tranquil time, when the sweet sense of Home Is sweetest ! moments for their own sake hailed And more desired, more precious, for thy song, In silence listening, like a devout child, My soul lay passive, by thy various strain Driven as in surges now beneath the stars, With momentary stars of my own birth, Fair constellated foam, still darting off Into the darkness ; now a tranquil sea, Outspread and bright, yet swelling to the moon.
And when--O Friend ! my comforter and guide ! Strong in thyself, and powerful to give strength !-- Thy long sustained Song finally closed, And thy deep voice had ceased--yet thou thyself Wert still before my eyes, and round us both That happy vision of beloved faces-- Scarce conscious, and yet conscious of its close I sate, my being blended in one thought (Thought was it ? or aspiration ? or resolve ?) Absorbed, yet hanging still upon the sound-- And when I rose, I found myself in prayer.
Come hither, gently rowing, Come, bear me quickly o'er This stream so brightly flowing To yonder woodland shore. But vain were my endeavour To pay thee, courteous guide; Row on, row on, for ever I'd have thee by my side.
Good boatman, prithee haste thee, I seek my father-land. -- Say, when I there have placed thee, Dare I demand thy hand? A maiden's head can never So hard a point decide; Row on, row on, for ever I'd have thee by my side.
The happy bridal over The wanderer ceased to roam, For, seated by her lover, The boat became her home. And they still sang together As steering o'er the tide: Row on through wind and weather For ever by my side.