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by William Lisle Bowles | |

To a Friend

 Go, then, and join the murmuring city's throng! 
Me thou dost leave to solitude and tears; 
To busy phantasies, and boding fears, 
Lest ill betide thee; but 't will not be long 
Ere the hard season shall be past; till then 
Live happy; sometimes the forsaken shade 
Remembering, and these trees now left to fade; 
Nor, mid the busy scenes and hum of men, 
Wilt thou my cares forget: in heaviness 
To me the hours shall roll, weary and slow, 
Till mournful autumn past, and all the snow 
Of winter pale, the glad hour I shall bless 
That shall restore thee from the crowd again, 
To the green hamlet on the peaceful plain.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

Sonnet: At Dover Cliffs July 20th 1787

 On these white cliffs, that calm above the flood
Uplift their shadowing heads, and, at their feet,
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat,
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood;
And whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o'er the distant billows the still eve
Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave
Tomorrow; of the friends he loved most dear;
Of social scenes, from which he wept to part;
But if, like me, he knew how fruitless all
The thoughts that would full fain the past recall,
Soon would he quell the risings of his heart,
And brave the wild winds and unhearing tide,
The world his country, and his God his guide.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

IX. O Poverty! though from thy haggard eye...

 O POVERTY! though from thy haggard eye, 
Thy cheerless mein, of every charm bereft, 
Thy brow, that hope's last traces long have left, 
Vain Fortune's feeble sons with terror fly; 
Thy rugged paths with pleasure I attend; -- 
For Fancy, that with fairest dreams can bless; 
And Patience, in the Pall of Wretchedness, 
Sad-smiling, as the ruthless storms descend; 
And Piety, forgiving every wrong, 
And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel; 
And Genius, warbling sweet her saddest song; 
And Pity, list'ning to the poor man's knell, 
Long banish'd from the world's insulting throng; 
With Thee, and loveliest Melancholy, dwell.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

V. To the River Tweed.

 O TWEED! a stranger, that with wand'ring feet 
O'er hill and dale has journey'd many a mile, 
(If so his weary thoughts he might beguile) 
Delighted turns thy beauteous scenes to greet.
The waving branches that romantick bend O'er thy tall banks, a soothing charm bestow; The murmurs of thy wand'ring wave below Seem to his ear the pity of a friend.
Delightful stream! tho' now along thy shore, When spring returns in all her wonted pride, The shepherd's distant pipe is heard no more, Yet here with pensive peace could I abide, Far from the stormy world's tumultuous roar, To muse upon thy banks at eventide.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

XIII. O Time! Who Knowst a Lenient Hand to Lay...

 O TIME! who know'st a lenient hand to lay 
Softest on sorrow's wound, and slowly thence, 
(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense) 
Stealest the long-forgotten pang away; 
On Thee I rest my only hope at last, 
And think, when thou hast dried the bitter tear 
That flows in vain o'er all my soul held dear, 
I may look back on many a sorrow past, 
And meet life's peaceful evening with a smile -- 
As some poor bird, at day's departing hour, 
Sings in the sunbeam, of the transient shower 
Forgetful, tho' its wings are wet the while: -- 
Yet ah! how much must that poor heart endure, 
Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

In Youth

 Milton, our noblest poet, in the grace 
Of youth, in those fair eyes and clustering hair, 
That brow untouched by one faint line of care, 
To mar its openness, we seem to trace 
The front of the first lord of the human race, 
Mid thine own Paradise portrayed so fair, 
Ere Sin or Sorrow scathed it: such the air 
That characters thy youth.
Shall time efface These lineaments as crowding cares assail! It is the lot of fallen humanity.
What boots it! armed in adamantine mail, The unconquerable mind, and genius high, Right onward hold their way through weal and woe, Or whether life's brief lot be high or low!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

Bereavement

 Whose was that gentle voice, that, whispering sweet,
Promised methought long days of bliss sincere!
Soothing it stole on my deluded ear,
Most like soft music, that might sometimes cheat
Thoughts dark and drooping! 'Twas the voice of Hope.
Of love and social scenes, it seemed to speak, Of truth, of friendship, of affection meek; That, oh! poor friend, might to life's downward slope Lead us in peace, and bless our latest hours.
Ah me! the prospect saddened as she sung; Loud on my startled ear the death-bell rung; Chill darkness wrapt the pleasurable bowers, Whilst Horror, pointing to yon breathless clay, "No peace be thine," exclaimed, "away, away!"


by William Lisle Bowles | |

III. O Thou whose stern command and precepts pure...

 O THOU, whose stern command and precepts pure 
(Tho' agony in every vein should start, 
And slowly drain the blood-drops from the heart) 
Have bade the patient spirit still endure; 
Thou, who to sorrow hast a beauty lent, 
On the dark brow, with resolution clad, 
Illumining the dreary traces sad, 
Like the cold taper on a monument; 
O firm Philosophy! display the tide 
Of human misery, and oft relate 
How silent sinking in the storms of fate, 
The brave and good have bow'd their head and died.
So taught by Thee, some solace I may find, Remembering the sorrows of mankind.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

XI. Written at Ostend

 HOW sweet the tuneful bells' responsive peal! 
As when, at opening morn, the fragrant breeze 
Breathes on the trembling sense of wan disease, 
So piercing to my heart their force I feel! 
And hark! with lessening cadence now they fall, 
And now, along the white and level tide, 
They fling their melancholy music wide, 
Bidding me many a tender thought recall 
Of summer-days, and those delightful years, 
When by my native streams, in life's fair prime, 
The mournful magic of their mingling chime 
First wak'd my wond'ring childhood into tears! 
But seeming now, when all those days are o'er, 
The sounds of joy, once heard, and heard no more.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

Sonnet: Languid And Sad And Slow From Day To Day

 Languid, and sad, and slow, from day to day
I journey on, yet pensive turn to view
(Where the rich landscape gleams with softer hue)
The streams and vales, and hills, that steal away.
So fares it with the children of the earth: For when life's goodly prospect opens round, Their spirits beat to tread that fairy ground, Where every vale sounds to the pipe of mirth.
But them vain hope and easy youth beguiles, And soon a longing look, like me, they cast Back on the pleasing prospect of the past: Yet Fancy points where still far onward smiles Some sunny spot, and her fair colouring blends, Till cheerless on their path the night descends!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

XII. Written at a Convent.

 IF chance some pensive stranger, hither led, 
His bosom glowing from majestic views, 
The gorgeous dome, or the proud landscape's hues, 
Should ask who sleeps beneath this lowly bed -- 
'Tis poor Matilda! To the cloister'd scene, 
A mourner, beauteous and unknown, she came, 
To shed her tears unseen; and quench the flame 
Of fruitless love: yet was her look serene 
As the pale midnight on the moon-light isle -- 
Her voice was soft, which e'en a charm could lend, 
Like that which spoke of a departed friend, 
And a meek sadness sat upon her smile! 
Now here remov'd from ev'ry human ill, 
Her woes are buried, and her heart is still.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

On a Beautiful Landscape

 Beautiful landscape! I could look on thee 
For hours,--unmindful of the storm and strife, 
And mingled murmurs of tumultuous life.
Here, all is still as fair--the stream, the tree, The wood, the sunshine on the bank: no tear No thought of time's swift wing, or closing night Which comes to steal away the long sweet light, No sighs of sad humanity are here.
Here is no tint of mortal change--the day Beneath whose light the dog and peasant-boy Gambol with look, and almost bark, of joy-- Still seems, though centuries have passed, to stay.
Then gaze again, that shadowed scenes may teach Lessons of peace and love, beyond all speech.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

On Hearing

 O stay, harmonious and sweet sounds, that die 
In the long vaultings of this ancient fane! 
Stay, for I may not hear on earth again 
Those pious airs--that glorious harmony; 
Lifting the soul to brighter orbs on high, 
Worlds without sin or sorrow! Ah, the strain 
Has died--even the last sounds that lingeringly 
Hung on the roof ere they expired! 
And I 
Stand in the world of strife, amidst a throng, 
A throng that reckons not of death or sin! 
Oh, jarring scenes! to cease, indeed, ere long; 
The worm hears not the discord and the din; 
But he whose heart thrills to this angel song 
Feels the pure joy of heaven on earth begin!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

VI. Evening as slow thy placid shades descend...

 EVENING, as slow thy placid shades descend, 
Veiling with gentlest hush the landscape still, 
The lonely battlement, and farthest hill 
And wood; I think of those that have no friend; 
Who now perhaps, by melancholy led, 
From the broad blaze of day, where pleasure flaunts, 
Retiring, wander 'mid thy lonely haunts 
Unseen; and mark the tints that o'er thy bed 
Hang lovely, oft to musing fancy's eye 
Presenting fairy vales, where the tir'd mind 
Might rest, beyond the murmurs of mankind, 
Nor hear the hourly moans of misery.
Ah! beauteous views, that hope's fair gleams the while, Should smile like you, and perish as thy smile!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

Sonnet: O Poverty! Though From Thy Haggard Eye

 O, Poverty! though from thy haggard eye,
Thy cheerless mien, of every charm bereft,
Thy brow that Hope's last traces long have left,
Vain Fortune's feeble sons with terror fly;
I love thy solitary haunts to seek.
For Pity, reckless of her own distress; And Patience, in her pall of wretchedness, That turns to the bleak storm her faded cheek; And Piety, that never told her wrong; And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel; And Genius, warbling sweet her saddest song; And Sorrow, listening to a lost friend's knell, Long banished from the world's insulting throng; With thee, and thy unfriended offspring, dwell.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

XIV. On a Distant View of England.

 AH! from my eyes the tears unbidden start, 
Albion! as now thy cliffs (that bright appear 
Far o'er the wave, and their proud summits rear 
To meet the beams of morn) my beating heart, 
With eager hope, and filial transport hails! 
Scenes of my youth, reviving gales ye bring.
As when, ere while, the tuneful morn of spring Joyous awoke amid your blooming vales, And fill'd with fragrance every breathing plain; -- Fled are those hours, and all the joys they gave, Yet still I sigh, and count each rising wave, That bears me nearer to your shores again; If haply, 'mid the woods and vales so fair, Stranger to Peace! I yet may meet her there.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

In Age

 And art thou he, now "fallen on evil days," 
And changed indeed! Yet what do this sunk cheek, 
These thinner locks, and that calm forehead speak! 
A spirit reckless of man's blame or praise,-- 
A spirit, when thine eyes to the noon's blaze 
Their dark orbs roll in vain, in suffering meek, 
As in the sight of God intent to seek, 
Mid solitude or age, or through the ways 
Of hard adversity, the approving look 
Of its great Master; whilst the conscious pride 
Of wisdom, patient and content to brook 
All ills to that sole Master's task applied, 
Shall show before high heaven the unaltered mind, 
Milton, though thou art poor, and old, and blind!


by William Lisle Bowles | |

X. On Dover Cliffs.

 ON these white cliffs, that calm above the flood 
Rear their o'er-shadowing heads, and at their feet 
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat, 
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood; 
And, whilst the lifted murmur met his ear, 
And o'er the distant billows the still Eve 
Sail'd slow, has thought of all his heart must leave 
To-morrow -- of the friends he lov'd most dear, -- 
Of social scenes, from which he wept to part: -- 
But if, like me, he knew how fruitless all 
The thoughts, that would full fain the past recall, 
Soon would he quell the risings of his heart, 
And brave the wild winds and unhearing tide, 
The World his country, and his God his guide.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

VII. At a Village in Scotland....

 O NORTH! as thy romantic vales I leave, 
And bid farewell to each retiring hill, 
Where thoughtful fancy seems to linger still, 
Tracing the broad bright landscape; much I grieve 
That mingled with the toiling croud, no more 
I shall return, your varied views to mark, 
Of rocks winding wild, and mountains hoar, 
Or castle gleaming on the distant steep.
Yet not the less I pray your charms may last, And many a soften'd image of the past Pensive combine; and bid remembrance keep To cheer me with the thought of pleasure flown, When I am wand'ring on my way alone.


by William Lisle Bowles | |

Languid And Sad And Slow From Day To Day

 Languid, and sad, and slow, from day to day 
I journey on, yet pensive turn to view 
(Where the rich landscape gleams with softer hue) 
The streams and vales, and hills, that steal away.
So fares it with the children of the earth: For when life's goodly prospect opens round, Their spirits beat to tread that fairy ground, Where every vale sounds to the pipe of mirth.
But them vain hope and easy youth beguiles, And soon a longing look, like me, they cast Back on the pleasing prospect of the past: Yet Fancy points where still far onward smiles Some sunny spot, and her fair colouring blends, Till cheerless on their path the night descends!