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SUGGESTED TO THE AUTHOR BY A PASSAGE IN PURCHAS's
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan'
A stately pleasure-dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossom’d many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But, oh, that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill, athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forc'd ;
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thrasher's fail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks, at once and ever,
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war.?
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she play'd,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 't would win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
1 “In Xanadu.”—I think I recollect a variation of this stanza, as follows:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-house ordain,
Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to a sunless main.
The nice-eared poet probably thought there were too many ns in these rhymes ; and man and main
are certainly not the best neighbours: yet there is such an open, sounding, and stately intonation in the words pleasure-house ordain, and it is so superior to pleasure-dome decree, that I am not sure I would not give up the correctness of the other terminations to retain it.
But what a grand flood is this, flowing down through measureless caverns to a sea without a sun! I know no other sea equal to it, except Keats's, in his Ode to a Nightingale; and none can surpass that.
? “ Ancestral voices prophesying war."—Was ever anything more wild, and remote, and majestic, than this fiction of the “ ancestral voices ?" Methinks I hear them, out of the blackness of the past.
Verse, a breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
Where hope clung feeding like a bee-
Both were mine! Life went a-Maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
When I was young!
When I was young? Ah, woful when!
Ah, for the change 'twixt now and then !
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
O’er aery cliffs and glittering sands,
How lightly then it flash'd along !-
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide
That ask no aid of sail or oar,
That fear no spite of wind or tide!
Nought cared this body for wind or weather,
When youth and I lived in 't together.
Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like ;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O the joys that came down shower-like,
Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty,
Ere I was old !
Ere I was old ? Ah, woful ere!
Which tells me Youth 's no longer here !
O Youth ! for years so many and sweet,
'Tis known, that thou and I were one;
I'll think it but a fond deceit-
It cannot be, that thou art gone!
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet tollid,
And thou wert aye a masker bold !
What strange disguise hast now put on,
To make believe that thou art gone ?
I see these locks in silvery slips,
This drooping gait, this alter'd size ;
But springtide blossoms on thy lips,
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes !
Life is but thought; so think I will,
That Youth and I are house-mates still.
This is one of the most perfect poems, for style, feeling, and everything, that ever were written.
THE HEATHEN DIVINITIES MERGED INTO ASTROLOGY.
FROM THE TRANSLATION OF SCHILLER'S PICCOLOMINI.
-Fable is Love's world, his home, bis birthplace :
Delightedly dwells he 'mong fays and talismans,
And spirits; and delightedly believes
Divinities, being himself divine.
The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The power, the beauty, and the majesty,
That had ber haunts in dale, or ping mountain,
Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and wat’ry depths; all these have vanish’d;
They live no longer in the faith of reason;
But still the heart doth need a language ; still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names ;
And to yon starry world they now are gone,
Spirits or gods, that used to share this earth
With man as with their friend ; and to the lover
Yonder they move ; from yonder visible sky
Shoot influence down: and even at this day
'Tis Jupiter who brings whate'er is great,
And Venus who brings everything that's fair.
LINES COMPOSED 21ST FEBRUARY, 1827.
All Nature seems at work. Stags leave their lair
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing-
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring !
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor paìr, nor build, nor sing.