Capel Lofft

Ernest: The Rule Of Right - Introduction

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INTRODUCTION.
Poesy, thou wert once the true soul-king--
Glowing with godly aims and energies;
The spirits' inmost spirit, wakening
Man's dull heartstrings to heavenly harmonies;
Cheering what else were cold, and quickening
Faintness with the warm blood of enterprise;
They told me thou wert lofty, good and free;
And truly I believed, and soothly worshipped thee.
And the weird charactery thou hast writ,
And all the soul of thy aspiring song
I took it to my heart and cherished it,
Studying deep, and meditating long.
Alas! the weakness of unworldly wit!
The fond believer's faith! Thy fairy throng
Belie the Truth, and are not what they seem--
I woke, and they were fled--a fair fantastic dream.
And there I stood, like the lone Laplander,
When once his Northern glamouring lights are gone--
Shuddering at the aspect, cold and drear,
Of the unlovely land he looks upon--
Yes--thou too hast a flame such as might cheer
With light and warmth earth's gloomiest region:
Virtue most gracious, might Electrical--
But in wild lightning gleams still dost thou spend it all.
What! was thy childhood manlier than is
Thy full and manlike age? There was a time,
(Alas! how distant and dim-seen from this)
When he, the loving high-souled bard sublime
Made of thy breathings a harmonial bliss,
Creating order from a waste of crime;
And then thy spirit was the breath of life
To man's society; composing it from strife,
Charming the soul of froward savageness
To civil union and fair ordinance.
Such in old Time thou wert, and now no less
If thy good grace were in good governance;
If only thy true drift thou wouldst redress
From idle aims and silly dalliance:
From their brain-sickly fond imaginings
Who call thy glories down on conquerors and kings.
And Oh! as many such have prayed to thee,
And thou hast condescended to their prayer;
So hear me now, thy latest votary,
And rise with me to realms of purer air:
And shed thy lustre on the majesty
Of a great Hero, great beyond compare;
The sovereign people--arise--redress his wrong--
Worthiest, tho' yet unsung--of thy heroic song.
But wherefore rake the rotten historic heap
To find a soul? their glory doth but shine
Foully, as charnel filth; no--let them sleep
In darkness, only take them not for thine--
'Tis from another fount, holy and deep,
Thou must draw forth thy effluence divine;
Nor look for life among the dead, who then
When living, cared nor did aught for their fellow-men;
And how shall good spring from their memories?
Oh no! but we must take another aim
Unto another end: 'Tis from the skies
Thou shalt achieve an everlasting flame
That fable old truly to realize.
And with a fiery spirit shalt thou frame
To wondrous energy man's loutish clay--
And spread the Truth abroad till its dawn grow to day.
E'en as God erst of His Almighty will
Breathed thro' His prophets the Poetic fire;
Be thou the handmaid of Religion still,
And flash a holy lightning from thy lyre:
So thy high destiny thou shalt fulfil--
For therefore with thy love doth God inspire
Each state of man, savage and skilled, that so
Uprising with thy wings, to greatness he may grow.
Yes, Poesy, I know thee, and thou art
Faith's harbinger, thy quickening rays unrol:
The self-wrapt blossom, the hard natural heart,
Swelling it to a spiritual soul--
Ah, wherefore are ye two so long apart?
But now, e'en now at last into one whole
Be blent each wild poetic melody,
Full streaming in a deep religious harmony.
Making one Faith of many phantasies,
Of many flaunting colors one true light--
One soul of many sensibilities,
One high-throned reason to rule all aright.
That peace and joy may crown man's destinies,
And glory be to God on Heaven's height:
A righteous consummation--hence along
Fair Poesy, and breathe thy spirit thro' my song.

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