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Darkling I listen ; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird !
No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self. Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:- do I wake or sleep?
ON A GRECIAN URN.
C HOU still unravish'd bride of quietness!
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loath? What mad pursuit ? What struggle to escape ?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy ?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal —-yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new; More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting and for ever young; All breathing human passion far above, That leaves a heart high sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice ?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
Is emptied of its folk this pious morn?
Why thou art desolate can e'er return.
, O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral ! When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. ON INDOLENCE.
“They toil not, neither do they spin."
NE morn before me were three figures seen
faced; And one behind the other stepp'd serene, In placid sandals, and in white robes graced ;
They pass’d, like figures on a marble urn, When shifted round to see the other side ; They came again; as when the urn once more
Is shifted round, the first green shades return; And they were strange to me, as may betide With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.
How is it, Shadows! that I knew ye not?
How came ye muffled in so hush a mask ?
My idle days ? Ripe was the drowsy hour; The blissful cloud of summer-indolence Benumb'd my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;
Pain had no sting, and pleasure's wreath no
flower : O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense Unhaunted quite of all but nothingness?
A third time pass'd they by, and, passing, turn'd
Each one the face a moment whiles to, me; Then faded, and to follow them I burn'd And ached for wings, because I knew the three;
The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name; The second was Ambition, pale of cheek, And ever watchful with fatigued eye;
The last, whom I love more, the more of blame Is heap'd upon her, maiden most unmeek,I knew to be my demon Poesy.
O folly! What is love ? and where is it?
For Poesy !-- no,-she has not a joy,–
O, for an age so shelter'd from annoy, That I may never know how change the moons, Or hear the voice of busy common sense !
And once more came they by; - alas! wherefore ?
My sleep had been embroider'd with dim dreams; My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o'er With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled
beams: The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,