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Best Famous William Lisle Bowles Poems

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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 |

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 |

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 |

On the Funeral of Charles the First

 The castle clock had tolled midnight:
With mattock and with spade,
And silent, by the torches' light,
His corse in earth we laid.
The coffin bore his name, that those Of other years might know, When earth its secrets should disclose, Whose bones were laid below.
"Peace to the dead" no children sung, Slow pacing up the nave,-- No prayers were read, no knell was rung, As deep we dug his grave.
We only heard the winter's wind, In many a sullen gust, As, o'er the open grave inclined, We murmured, "Dust to dust!" A moonbeam from the arch's height Streamed, as we placed the stone; The long aisles started into light, And all the windows shone.
We thought we saw the banners then, That shook along the walls, Whilst the sad shades of mail?d men Were gazing on the stalls.
'Tis gone! again on tombs defaced Sits darkness more profound; And only by the torch we traced The shadows on the ground.
And now the chilling, freezing air Without blew long and loud; Upon our knees we breathed one prayer, Where he slept in his shroud.
We laid the broken marble floor,-- No name, no trace appears,-- And when we closed the sounding door, We thought of him with tears.


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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.