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Best Famous Robert Southey Poems

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Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 06

 (to a brook near the village of Corston.
) As thus I bend me o'er thy babbling stream And watch thy current, Memory's hand pourtrays The faint form'd scenes of the departed days, Like the far forest by the moon's pale beam Dimly descried yet lovely.
I have worn Upon thy banks the live-long hour away, When sportive Childhood wantoned thro' the day, Joy'd at the opening splendour of the morn, Or as the twilight darken'd, heaved the sigh Thinking of distant home; as down my cheek At the fond thought slow stealing on, would speak The silent eloquence of the full eye.
Dim are the long past days, yet still they please As thy soft sounds half heard, borne on the inconstant breeze.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 02 - For A Column At Newbury

 Art thou a Patriot Traveller? on this field
Did FALKLAND fall the blameless and the brave
Beneath a Tyrant's banners: dost thou boast
Of loyal ardor? HAMBDEN perish'd here,
The rebel HAMBDEN, at whose glorious name
The heart of every honest Englishman
Beats high with conscious pride.
Both uncorrupt, Friends to their common country both, they fought, They died in adverse armies.
Traveller! If with thy neighbour thou should'st not accord, In charity remember these good men, And quell each angry and injurious thought.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 04

 What tho' no sculptur'd monument proclaim
Thy fate-yet Albert in my breast I bear
Inshrin'd the sad remembrance; yet thy name
Will fill my throbbing bosom.
When DESPAIR The child of murdered HOPE, fed on thy heart, Loved honored friend, I saw thee sink forlorn Pierced to the soul by cold Neglect's keen dart, And Penury's hard ills, and pitying Scorn, And the dark spectre of departed JOY Inhuman MEMORY.
Often on thy grave Love I the solitary hour to employ Thinking on other days; and heave the sigh Responsive, when I mark the high grass wave Sad sounding as the cold breeze rustles by.


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Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 05

 Hard by the road, where on that little mound
The high grass rustles to the passing breeze,
The child of Misery rests her head in peace.
Pause there in sadness.
That unhallowed ground Inshrines what once was Isabel.
Sleep on Sleep on, poor Outcast! lovely was thy cheek, And thy mild eye was eloquent to speak The soul of Pity.
Pale and woe-begone Soon did thy fair cheek fade, and thine eye weep The tear of anguish for the babe unborn, The helpless heir of Poverty and Scorn.
She drank the draught that chill'd her soul to sleep.
I pause and wipe the big drop from mine eye, Whilst the proud Levite scowls and passes by.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 03

 Not to thee Bedford mournful is the tale
Of days departed.
Time in his career Arraigns not thee that the neglected year Has past unheeded onward.
To the vale Of years thou journeyest.
May the future road Be pleasant as the past! and on my friend Friendship and Love, best blessings! still attend, 'Till full of days he reach the calm abode Where Nature slumbers.
Lovely is the age Of Virtue.
With such reverence we behold The silver hairs, as some grey oak grown old That whilome mock'd the rushing tempest's rage Now like the monument of strength decayed With rarely-sprinkled leaves casting a trembling shade.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 07

 (to the rainbow)

Mild arch of promise! on the evening sky
Thou shinest fair with many a lovely ray
Each in the other melting.
Much mine eye Delights to linger on thee; for the day, Changeful and many-weather'd, seem'd to smile Flashing brief splendor thro' its clouds awhile, That deepen'd dark anon and fell in rain: But pleasant is it now to pause, and view Thy various tints of frail and watery hue, And think the storm shall not return again.
Such is the smile that Piety bestows On the good man's pale cheek, when he in peace Departing gently from a world of woes, Anticipates the realm where sorrows cease.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Sonnet 08

 With many a weary step, at length I gain
Thy summit, Lansdown; and the cool breeze plays,
Gratefully round my brow, as hence the gaze
Returns to dwell upon the journeyed plain.
'Twas a long way and tedious! to the eye Tho fair the extended vale, and fair to view The falling leaves of many a faded hue, That eddy in the wild gust moaning by.
Even so it fared with Life! in discontent Restless thro' Fortune's mingled scenes I went, Yet wept to think they would return no more! But cease fond heart in such sad thoughts to roam, For surely thou ere long shall reach thy home, And pleasant is the way that lies before.


Written by Robert Southey | |

To a Goose

 If thou didst feed on western plains of yore 
Or waddle wide with flat and flabby feet 
Over some Cambrian mountain's plashy moor, 
Or find in farmer's yard a safe retreat 
From gipsy thieves and foxes sly and fleet; 
If thy grey quills by lawyer guided, trace 
Deeds big with ruin to some wretched race, 
Or love-sick poet's sonnet, sad and sweet, 
Wailing the rigour of some lady fair; 
Or if, the drudge of housemaid's daily toil, 
Cobwebs and dust thy pinion white besoil, 
Departed goose! I neither know nor care.
But this I know, that thou wert very fine, Seasoned with sage and onions and port wine.


Written by Robert Southey | |

To My Own Minature Picture Taken At Two Years Of Age

 And I was once like this! that glowing cheek
Was mine, those pleasure-sparkling eyes, that brow
Smooth as the level lake, when not a breeze
Dies o'er the sleeping surface! twenty years
Have wrought strange alteration! Of the friends
Who once so dearly prized this miniature,
And loved it for its likeness, some are gone
To their last home; and some, estranged in heart,
Beholding me with quick-averted glance
Pass on the other side! But still these hues
Remain unalter'd, and these features wear
The look of Infancy and Innocence.
I search myself in vain, and find no trace Of what I was: those lightly-arching lines Dark and o'erhanging now; and that mild face Settled in these strong lineaments!--There were Who form'd high hopes and flattering ones of thee Young Robert! for thine eye was quick to speak Each opening feeling: should they not have known When the rich rainbow on the morning cloud Reflects its radiant dies, the husbandman Beholds the ominous glory sad, and fears Impending storms? they augur'd happily, For thou didst love each wild and wonderous tale Of faery fiction, and thine infant tongue Lisp'd with delight the godlike deeds of Greece And rising Rome; therefore they deem'd forsooth That thou shouldst tread PREFERMENT'S pleasant path.
Ill-judging ones! they let thy little feet Stray in the pleasant paths of POESY, And when thou shouldst have prest amid the crowd There didst thou love to linger out the day Loitering beneath the laurels barren shade.
SPIRIT of SPENSER! was the wanderer wrong? This little picture was for ornament Design'd, to shine amid the motley mob Of Fashion and of Folly,--is it not More honour'd by this solitary song?


Written by Robert Southey | |

To Contemplation

 Faint gleams the evening radiance thro' the sky,
The sober twilight dimly darkens round;
In short quick circles the shrill bat flits by,
And the slow vapour curls along the ground.
Now the pleas'd eye from yon lone cottage sees On the green mead the smoke long-shadowing play; The Red-breast on the blossom'd spray Warbles wild her latest lay, And sleeps along the dale the silent breeze.
Calm CONTEMPLATION,'tis thy favorite hour! Come fill my bosom, tranquillizing Power.
Meek Power! I view thee on the calmy shore When Ocean stills his waves to rest; Or when slow-moving on the surge's hoar Meet with deep hollow roar And whiten o'er his breast; For lo! the Moon with softer radiance gleams, And lovelier heave the billows in her beams.
When the low gales of evening moan along, I love with thee to feel the calm cool breeze, And roam the pathless forest wilds among, Listening the mellow murmur of the trees Full-foliaged as they lift their arms on high And wave their shadowy heads in wildest melody.
Or lead me where amid the tranquil vale The broken stream flows on in silver light, And I will linger where the gale O'er the bank of violets sighs, Listening to hear its soften'd sounds arise; And hearken the dull beetle's drowsy flight, And watch the horn-eyed snail Creep o'er his long moon-glittering trail, And mark where radiant thro' the night Moves in the grass-green hedge the glow-worms living light.
Thee meekest Power! I love to meet, As oft with even solitary pace The scatter'd Abbeys hallowed rounds I trace And listen to the echoings of my feet.
Or on the half demolished tomb, Whole warning texts anticipate my doom: Mark the clear orb of night Cast thro' the storying glass a faintly-varied light.
Nor will I not in some more gloomy hour Invoke with fearless awe thine holier power, Wandering beneath the sainted pile When the blast moans along the darksome aisle, And clattering patters all around The midnight shower with dreary sound.
But sweeter 'tis to wander wild By melancholy dreams beguil'd, While the summer moon's pale ray Faintly guides me on my way To the lone romantic glen Far from all the haunts of men, Where no noise of uproar rude Breaks the calm of solitude.
But soothing Silence sleeps in all Save the neighbouring waterfall, Whose hoarse waters falling near Load with hollow sounds the ear, And with down-dasht torrent white Gleam hoary thro' the shades of night.
Thus wandering silent on and slow I'll nurse Reflection's sacred woe, And muse upon the perish'd day When Hope would weave her visions gay, Ere FANCY chill'd by adverse fate Left sad REALITY my mate.
O CONTEMPLATION! when to Memory's eyes The visions of the long-past days arise, Thy holy power imparts the best relief, And the calm'd Spirit loves the joy of grief.


Written by Robert Southey | |

Inscription 08 - For The Cenotaph At Ermenonville

 STRANGER! the MAN OF NATURE lies not here:
Enshrin'd far distant by his rival's side
His relics rest, there by the giddy throng
With blind idolatry alike revered!
Wiselier directed have thy pilgrim feet
Explor'd the scenes of Ermenonville.
ROUSSEAU Loved these calm haunts of Solitude and Peace; Here he has heard the murmurs of the stream, And the soft rustling of the poplar grove, When o'er their bending boughs the passing wind Swept a grey shade.
Here if thy breast be full, If in thine eye the tear devout should gush, His SPIRIT shall behold thee, to thine home From hence returning, purified of heart.


Written by Robert Southey | |

To Horror

 Dark HORROR, hear my call!
Stern Genius hear from thy retreat
On some old sepulchre's moss-cankered seat,
Beneath the Abbey's ivied wall
That trembles o'er its shade;
Where wrapt in midnight gloom, alone,
Thou lovest to lie and hear
The roar of waters near,
And listen to the deep dull groan
Of some perturbed sprite
Borne fitful on the heavy gales of night.
Or whether o'er some wide waste hill Thou mark'st the traveller stray, Bewilder'd on his lonely way, When, loud and keen and chill, The evening winds of winter blow Drifting deep the dismal snow.
Or if thou followest now on Greenland's shore, With all thy terrors, on the lonely way Of some wrecked mariner, when to the roar Of herded bears the floating ice-hills round Pour their deep echoing sound, And by the dim drear Boreal light Givest half his dangers to the wretches sight.
Or if thy fury form, When o'er the midnight deep The dark-wing'd tempests sweep Watches from some high cliff the encreasing storm, Listening with strange delight As the black billows to the thunder rave When by the lightnings light Thou seest the tall ship sink beneath the wave.
Dark HORROR! bear me where the field of fight Scatters contagion on the tainted gale, When to the Moon's faint beam, On many a carcase shine the dews of night And a dead silence stills the vale Save when at times is heard the glutted Raven's scream.
Where some wreck'd army from the Conquerors might Speed their disastrous flight, With thee fierce Genius! let me trace their way, And hear at times the deep heart-groan Of some poor sufferer left to die alone, His sore wounds smarting with the winds of night; And we will pause, where, on the wild, The Mother to her frozen breast, On the heap'd snows reclining clasps her child And with him sleeps, chill'd to eternal rest! Black HORROR! speed we to the bed of Death, Where he whose murderous power afar Blasts with the myriad plagues of war, Struggles with his last breath, Then to his wildly-starting eyes The phantoms of the murder'd rise, Then on his frenzied ear Their groans for vengeance and the Demon's yell In one heart-maddening chorus swell.
Cold on his brow convulsing stands the dew, And night eternal darkens on his view.
HORROR! I call thee yet once more! Bear me to that accursed shore Where round the stake the impaled Negro writhes.
Assume thy sacred terrors then! dispense The blasting gales of Pestilence! Arouse the race of Afric! holy Power, Lead them to vengeance! and in that dread hour When Ruin rages wide I will behold and smile by MERCY'S side.


Written by Robert Southey | |

To Mary Wollstonecraft

 The lilly cheek, the "purple light of love,"
The liquid lustre of the melting eye,--
Mary! of these the Poet sung, for these
Did Woman triumph! with no angry frown
View this degrading conquest.
At that age No MAID OF ARC had snatch'd from coward man The heaven-blest sword of Liberty; thy sex Could boast no female ROLAND'S martyrdom; No CORDE'S angel and avenging arm Had sanctified again the Murderer's name As erst when Caesar perish'd: yet some strains May even adorn this theme, befitting me To offer, nor unworthy thy regard.


Written by Robert Southey | |

The Old Mans Comforts and how he gained them

 You are old, Father William, the young man cried,
The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man,
Now tell me the reason I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth would fly fast, And abused not my health and my vigour at first That I never might need them at last.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And pleasures with youth pass away, And yet you lament not the days that are gone, Now tell me the reason I pray.
In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth could not last; I thought of the future whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past.
You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And life must be hastening away; You are chearful, and love to converse upon death! Now tell me the reason I pray.
I am chearful, young man, Father William replied, Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth I remember'd my God! And He hath not forgotten my age.


Written by Robert Southey | |

To The Chapel Bell

 "Lo I, the man who erst the Muse did ask
Her deepest notes to swell the Patriot's meeds,
Am now enforst a far unfitter task
For cap and gown to leave my minstrel weeds,"
For yon dull noise that tinkles on the air
Bids me lay by the lyre and go to morning prayer.
Oh how I hate the sound! it is the Knell, That still a requiem tolls to Comfort's hour; And loth am I, at Superstition's bell, To quit or Morpheus or the Muses bower.
Better to lie and dose, than gape amain, Hearing still mumbled o'er, the same eternal strain.
Thou tedious herald of more tedious prayers Say hast thou ever summoned from his rest, One being awakening to religious awe? Or rous'd one pious transport in the breast? Or rather, do not all reluctant creep To linger out the hour, in listlessness or sleep? I love the bell, that calls the poor to pray Chiming from village church its chearful sound, When the sun smiles on Labour's holy day, And all the rustic train are gathered round, Each deftly dizen'd in his Sunday's best And pleas'd to hail the day of piety and rest.
Or when, dim-shadowing o'er the face of day, The mantling mists of even-tide rise slow, As thro' the forest gloom I wend my way, The minster curfew's sullen roar I know; I pause and love its solemn toll to hear, As made by distance soft, it dies upon the ear.
Nor not to me the unfrequent midnight knell Tolls sternly harmonizing; on mine ear As the deep death-fraught sounds long lingering dwell Sick to the heart of Love and Hope and Fear Soul-jaundiced, I do loathe Life's upland steep And with strange envy muse the dead man's dreamless sleep.
But thou, memorial of monastic gall! What Fancy sad or lightsome hast thou given? Thy vision-scaring sounds alone recall The prayer that trembles on a yawn to heaven; And this Dean's gape, and that Dean's nosal tone, And Roman rites retain'd, tho' Roman faith be flown.