The Vision Of The Rock
I SATE upon a lonely peak,
A backwood river-s course to view,
And watched the changing shadows freak
Its liquid length of gleaming blue,
Streaked by the crane slow gliding o-er,
Or chequering to the leafy roar
Of woods that -neath me grew,
Or curdling dark, as high o-erhead
The gathering clouds before the sounding breezes fled.
Straight I bethought how once the scene
Spread in its primal horror there,
When, but some lone bird-s weary threne
Or howlings from the wild dog-s lair,
Or rush of startled kangaroo,
As near some stealthy savage drew
With hunger in his air,
Or, from the stream some murmur-d sound
Broke the dread slumbrous calm of solitude profound.
A change came o-er my thoughts-behind
A length of coming time I threw,
Till round me, on that rock reclined,
Its folds prophetic vision drew;
And purpling, like the morning, gave
Mine eyes of freedom-s births to have
A seeming ante-view;
As haply in brave promise stole
His country-s purer weal o-er youthful Hampden-s soul.
All round me villages upgrew
At once, with orchards clumped about,
And oft between, tall pine-rows through,
Some mansion-s pillard porch looked out,
And thickening up from alleys green,
Where rustic groups in dance were seen,
Came merry cry and shout;
While from tall groves beyond, the cheer
Of maiden-s laughter soft, broke in rich wavelets near.
And in the gusts that overpassed
The stir of neighbouring cities came,
Whose structures in the distance massed
Proclaimed their opulence and fame,
O-er fields of ripening plenty viewed,
Or hills with white flocks fleeced, and strewed
With herds that grazed the same;
While on the paven roads between
The crowding chariots came with rapid-rolling din.
Now gaining depth, the vision lay
Around my being like a law,
So that my spirit might not say
But all was real that I saw:
I mark a youth and maiden, pressed
By love-s sweet power, elude the rest,
And as they nearer draw
I list the vow that each imparts
Folded within the spells of harmonizing hearts.
But suddenly a grim-faced sire
Strides like a fatal wraith between
With that cold whiteness is his ire
Which in the bad alone is seen!
Alas! This world can never be
A poet-s Eden utterly-
Twill be what it hath been!
So long as love-s rich heart is red,
And beauty-s eyes are bright-so long shall tears be shed.
They pass; and lo, a lonely boy
With wandering step goes musing by;
Glory is in his air, and joy,
And all the poet in his eye!
And now, whilst rich emotions flush
His happy face, as cloud-hues blush
In morning-s radiant sky,
He sings-and to the charmful sound
Troops of angelic shapes throng into being round.
But -neath a sombre cypress tree,
And clad in garbs of kindred gloom,
A mother and her child I see
Both mourning o-er a lowly tomb!
Ah! Life hath ever been a brief
Mixed dream of glory and grief-
Its earliest, latest doom!
That heart in which love-s tides first ran
Descends with all its risks to every child of man.
Now turning see, with locks all grey,
A form majestic; wisdom true
Illumes his brow-the power to weigh
All worth, and look all semblence through;
And stately youths of studious mien,
Children of light, with him are seen,
Attend the speaking sage along
And hearken to the wisdom of his manna-dropping tongue.
And now doth his large utterance throw
A sacred solemnizing spell
O-er scenes that yet no record know,
Round names that now I may not tell;
But there was one-too long unknown!
Whereat, as with a household tone
Upon the ear it fell,
Each listener-s speaking eyes were given
To glisten with a tear and turn awhile to heaven.
Thus night came on; for hours had flown,
And yet its hold the vision kept,
Till lulled by many a dying tone,
I laid me on the rock and slept!
And now the moon hung big between
Two neighbouring summits sheath-d with sheen-
When all with dews dewept,
And roused by a loud coming gale,
I sought our camp-fire-s glow, deep in the darkening vale.
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