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Classed 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 absorbed, 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 1
Of those whose eyes are only turned below, Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow ?
LXXVI But this is not my theme;
and I return To that which is immediate, and require
Phlegm.]. The hard common sense of unpoetic natures. Greek péyua, equivalent to Latin pituita.
Those who find contemplation in the urn,
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while—a passing guest,
Where he became a being,— whose desire
Was to be glorious ; 'twas a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over passion, and from woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched ; yet he knew
How to make madness beautiful, and cast
O’er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
His love was passion's essence :-as a tree
On fire by lightning, with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted ; for to be
Thus, and enamoured, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal beauty, which became
In him existence, and o’erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distempered though it seems.
This breathed itself to life in Julie,” this
Invested her with all that's wild and sweet ;
1 One.] Jean Jacques Rousseau, born 1712 at Geneva, died 1778. Between him and the poet were many points of resemblance ; both • self-torturing,' both skilful in casting o'er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue' (see • Confessions' of Rousseau, and the • Don Juan' of Byron); both, too, are revolutionary in their political and religious ideas. Rousseau's works saturated the leaders of the Freneh Revolution, and can be traced in the American Declaration of Independence, 1776, and in the Rights of Man.'
2 Julie.] The Comtesse d'Houdetot. See his “Confessions.'
This hallowed, too, the memorable kiss
Which every morn his fevered lip would greet,
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
Flashed the thrilled spirit's love-devouring heat ;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
His life was one long war with self-svught foes,
Or friends by him self-banished ; for his mind
Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary,' and chose,
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
But he was phrensied, -wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which skill could never find ;
But he was phrensied by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.
For then he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdonis were no more :
Did he not this for France ? which lay before
Bowed to the inborn tyranny of years?
Broken and trembling to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up to too much wrath, which follows o'ergrown
They made themselves a fearful monument !
The wreck of old opinions-things which grew,
Breathed from the birth of time : the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
1 Suspicion's sanctuary.] See his conduct to Hume and St. Lambert.
2 Those oracles which set the world in flame.]. Le Contrat Social' embodied the seeds of the Revolution. The influence of the work is to be traced in the American Declaration of Independence, 1776, Tom Paine's Rights of Man,' and the manifestoes that emanated from the heads of the Revolution.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour refilled,
As heretofore, because ambition was self-willed.
But this will not endure, nor be endured ! Mankind have felt their strength, and made it felt. They might have used it better, but, allured By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt On one another; pity ceased to melt With her once natural charities.—But they, Who in oppression's darkness caved had dwelt, They were not eagles, nourished with the day ; What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey ?
What deep wounds ever closed without a scar?
The heart's bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquished, bear
Silence, but not submission : in his lair
Fixed Passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years ; none need despair :
It came, it cometh, and will come,—the power
To punish or forgive-in one we shall be slower. 3
Clear, placid Leman ! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth’s troubled waters for a purer spring.
| The views of Byron with regard to the character of the French Revolution are really practical and claim our sympathy. The tears of centuries required vindication, though the modus operandi was a • vomiting of crime,' as Byron calls it. Natural was it that men should grow weary to behold
• The selfish and the strong still tyrannise
Without reproach or check.'
2 It cume, it cometh, and will come.] •It' refers to power.
3 In one we shall be slower.] Either forgiveness or punishment in the hour of power will be deficient in those who avenge these wrongs.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved 1
Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring,
Sounds sweet as if a Sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear,
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen,
Save darkened Jura,” whose capt heights appear
Precipitously steep ; and drawing near,
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more:
He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill ;
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy, for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into Nature's breast the spirit of her hues.
Ye stars ! which are the poetry of heaven !
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires,—'tis to be forgiven,
That in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A beauty and a mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves
a star. 1 Once I loved.) We may notice an inconsistency as compared with Canto iv., if we are to expect consistency at all where every passing phase of feeling finds its expression. "Þ. J.' xiv. 7, ‘I write what's uppermost without delay.'.
? Jura.] On the west of the Lake of Geneva, the Jura Alps.