Washington Allston

And Now In Accents Deep And Low

And now, in accents deep and low,
Like voice of fondly-cherish'd woe,
The Sylph of Autumn sad:
Though I may not of raptures sing,
That grac'd the gentle song of Spring,
Like Summer, playful pleasures bring,
Thy youthful heart to glad;

Yet still may I in hope aspire
Thy heart to touch with chaster fire,
And purifying love:
For I with vision high and holy,
And spell of quick'ning melancholy,
Thy soul from sublunary folly
First rais'd to worlds above.

What though be mine the treasures fair
Of purple grape and yellow pear,
And fruits of various hue,
And harvests rich of golden grain,
That dance in waves along the plain
To merry song of reaping swain,
Beneath the welkin blue;

With these I may not urge my suit,
Of Summer's patient toil the fruit,
For mortal purpose given:
Nor may it fit my sober mood
To sing of sweetly murmuring flood,
Or dies of many-colour'd wood,
That mock the bow of heaven.

But, know, 'twas mine the secret power
That wak'd thee at the midnight hour,
In bleak November's reign:
'Twas I the spell around thee cast,
When thou didst hear the hollow blast
In murmurs tell of pleasures past,
That ne'er would come again:

And led thee, when the storm was o'er,
To hear the sullen ocean roar,
By dreadful calm opprest;
Which still, though not a breeze was there,
Its mountain-billows heav'd in air,
As if a living thing it were,
That strove in vain for rest.

'Twas I, when thou, subdued by woe,
Didst watch the leaves descending slow,
To each a moral gave;
And as they mov'd in mournful train,
With rustling sound, along the plain,
Taught them to sing a seraph's strain
Of peace within the grave.

And then uprais'd thy streaming eye,
I met thee in the western sky
In pomp of evening cloud;
That, while with varying form it roll'd,
Some wizard's castle seem'd of gold,
And now a crimson'd knight of old,
Or king in purple proud.

And last, as sunk the setting sun,
And Evening with her shadows dun,
The gorgeous pageant past,
'Twas then of life a mimic shew,
Of human grandeur here below,
Which thus beneath the fatal blow
Of Death must fall at last.

Oh, then with what aspiring gaze
Didst thou thy tranced vision raise
To yonder orbs on high,
And think how wondrous, how sublime
'Twere upwards to their spheres to climb,
And live, beyond the reach of Time,
Child of Eternity!

And last the Sylph of Winter spake;
The while her piercing voice did shake
The castle-vaults below.
Oh, youth, if thou, with soul refin'd,
Hast felt the triumph pure of mind,
And learnt a secret joy to find
In deepest scenes of woe;

If e'er with fearful ear at eve
Hast heard the wailing tempest grieve
Through chink of shatter'd wall;
The while it conjur'd o'er thy brain
Of wandering ghosts a mournful train,
That low in fitful sobs complain,
Of Death's untimely call:

Or feeling, as the storm increas'd,
The love of terror nerve thy breast,
Didst venture to the coast;
To see the mighty war-ship leap
From wave to wave upon the deep,
Like chamoise goat from steep to steep,
'Till low in valleys lost;

Then, glancing to the angry sky,
Behold the clouds with fury fly
The lurid moon athwart;
Like armies huge in battle, throng,
And pour in vollying ranks along,
While piping winds in martial song
To rushing war exhort:

Oh, then to me thy heart be given,
To me, ordain'd by Him in heaven
Thy nobler powers to wake.
And oh! if thou with poet's soul,
High brooding o'er the frozen pole,
Hast felt beneath my stern control
The desert region quake;

Or from old Hecla's cloudy height,
When o'er the dismal, half-year's night
He pours his sulph'rous breath,
Hast known my petrifying wind
Wild ocean's curling billows bind,
Like bending sheaves by harvest hind,
Erect in icy death;

Or heard adown the mountain's steep
The northern blast with furious sweep
Some cliff dissever'd dash;
And seen it spring with dreadful bound
From rock to rock, to gulph profound,
While echoes fierce from caves resound
The never-ending crash:

If thus, with terror's mighty spell
Thy soul inspir'd, was wont to swell,
Thy heaving frame expand;
Oh, then to me thy heart incline;
For know, the wondrous charm was mine
That fear and joy did thus combine
In magick union bland.

Nor think confin'd my native sphere
To horrors gaunt, or ghastly fear,
Or desolation wild:
For I of pleasures fair could sing,
That steal from life its sharpest sting,
And man have made around it cling,
Like mother to her child.

When thou, beneath the clear blue sky,
So calm no cloud was seen to fly,
Hast gaz'd on snowy plain,
Where Nature slept so pure and sweet,
She seem'd a corse in winding-sheet,
Whose happy soul had gone to meet
The blest Angelic train;

Or mark'd the sun's declining ray
In thousand varying colours play
O'er ice-incrusted heath,
In gleams of orange now, and green,
And now in red and azure sheen,
Like hues on dying dolphins seen,
Most lovely when in death;

Or seen at dawn of eastern light
The frosty toil of Fays by night
On pane of casement clear,
Where bright the mimic glaciers shine,
And Alps, with many a mountain pine,
And armed knights from Palestine
In winding march appear:

'Twas I on each enchanting scene
The charm bestow'd that banish'd spleen
Thy bosom pure and light.
But still a nobler power I claim;
That power allied to poets' fame,
Which language vain has dar'd to name-
The soul's creative might.

Though Autumn grave, and Summer fair,
And joyous Spring demand a share
Of Fancy's hallow'd power,
Yet these I hold of humbler kind,
To grosser means of earth confin'd,
Through mortal sense to reach the mind,
By mountain, stream, or flower.

But mine, of purer nature still,
Is that which to thy secret will
Did minister unseen,
Unfelt, unheard; when every sense
Did sleep in drowsy indolence,
And Silence deep and Night intense
Enshrowded every scene;

That o'er thy teeming brain did raise
The spirits of departed days
Through all the varying year;
And images of things remote,
And sounds that long had ceas'd to float,
With every hue, and every note,
As living now they were:

And taught thee from the motley mass
Each harmonizing part to class,
(Like Nature's self employ'd
And then, as work'd thy wayward will,
From these with rare combining skill,
With new-created worlds to fill
Of space the mighty void.

Oh then to me thy heart incline;
To me whose plastick powers combine
The harvest of the mind;
To me, whose magic coffers bear
The spoils of all the toiling year,
That still in mental vision wear
A lustre more refin'd.

She ceas'd-And now in doubtful mood,
All motionless and mute I stood,
Like one by charm opprest:
By turns from each to each I rov'd,
And each by turns again I lov'd;
For ages ne'er could one have prov'd
More lovely than the rest.

"Oh blessed band, of birth divine,
What mortal task is like to mine!"-
And further had I spoke,
When, lo! there pour'd a flood of light
So fiercely on my aching sight,
I fell beneath the vision bright,
And with the pain I woke.



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Washington Allston