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For he spies strange land afar;
Or a seer upon a tower,
When, from out her lunar bower
Slips an osculated star,
Blest as thou, one moment, are.
I'll say, a vane upon a spire,
Singly touched with sunset fire,
O'er the dim burgh under it;
Or a maiden, careless quite
Of the world and all its spite,
Since there's One will love her yet,—
Are not in such glory set!
Yet, once more, let fancy stray,
To find thee semblance fit! I'll say
'Tis a wizard who, by spells,
'Mid enchanted roses dwells,
In a land of ice and snow;
Or an Orient Queen that breathes,
From lit spices and strewn wreaths,
Such rare incense, she forgets
How the stormy people frets,
Clamouring at the gates below.
Ah, no, no!
Single in thyself art thou,
As a poet in his prime,
Ere he feels the clog of time,
And his kindred with the dust;
Or the strong heart of a god,
When a new world, to his nod
Moves, as by his will it must;
In what forms may Fancy trust?
Thoughts of thee that gather form,
Are as sunrise seen through storm,
Or a martyr, when his psalm
Brings the angel with the palm;
Or whatever, scorning sorrow,
Self-sufficing, self-contained,
Dwells, fore-conscious of the morrow,
In a rapture unexplained!
Vainly, vainly, roaming thorough
All Experience, I would borrow
Types of thee, till Love is pained
With a passion unattained!
Still of every gladdest thought
That comes o'er me while I hear thee,
Sovran singer, there is nought,
Glad enough to linger near thee!
Care not thou for Winter, scattering
His spent snows against thy wing;
Heed not thou the churlish chattering
Of a half-discrown├Ęd king.
Vex not thy stout heart, nor chafe
At the light and timid swallow,
Proffering his friendship shallow,
When his friend is safe.
A careless second comer,
He comes of common kind;
Secure of the world's summer,
And very sure to find
What thou hast never known
The fame that lags behind
The first who flies alone.

False and fickle, he!
(Truth is bitter!)
False and fickle, he!
That takes the fame 'twere fitter
True hearts should render thee!
A bird that loves the glitter,
A thing of twitter, twitter,
Where many listeners be:
A fickle bird, I trow,
And a fickle friend to me!
But what is that to thee?
Full little reckest thou
Of the rain in russet lands, or the wind around thee
The Spring thou singest of is in thy heart, dear

Therefore, to thee is given
An insight wildly-wise,
Into the purposes of Heaven,
The secrets of the skies.
Thy friends are yet unborn:
The earliest violet,
The first bud on the thorn;
And the young roses, wet
With tears of the first morn
That doth rosebuds beget.
Thy foes are yet a dying,
Ragged-skirted rains;
Winds, at random flying,
Fast with cloudy manes,
And the last snows, lying
Lost on chilly plains.
Grief and Joy together,
Colloquise with thee;
Sad and sunny weather,
Shift around the tree,
Where, not heeding either,
Thou art pouring free,
Over earth and ether,
Thy heart's gushing glee:
A song like old Amphion's,
That fashions from void air,
Moved by the sweetly-sounding minions
Of its melodious mandate everywhere,
Those blossomy battlements,
And green ascents,
Where, in due time, shall dwell,
All the delicious sights, and sounds, and scents,
Of spring's gay citadel.


NEITHER art, nor the drama, nor music, nor
literature, nor criticism, can be expected to
stand very high in a new country where the
population is of a mixed race, and where the
chief objects of nearly all men are either
commerce or agriculture.

I am not saying that the American cities do
not boast great opera-houses, great authors,
great actors, great critics, and great (foreign)
musicians, but I say that these are the exceptions
rather than the rule. The plays are as
boldly stolen from the French, as our own; the
Ethiopian minstrelsy is half of it Scotch or Irish;
the singers are Italian; the critics alone are
pure American; of course above all suspicion of
personal malevolence, though not above all
suspicion of extreme conceit, and, still more, of
extreme ignorance. American gentlemen go and
hear Italian music because it is the fashion; they
buy bad statues because they have no sound
principles of taste to guide them ; and they give
their assent to vulgar high flown musical criticism,
too affected to be intelligible, and too
prejudiced to be just, because they have no time
to acquire for themselves any real knowledge of
the subject. The blind critic is a dangerous
guide to blind readers.