Sketch From Bowden Hill After Sickness
How cheering are thy prospects, airy hill,
To him who, pale and languid, on thy brow
Pauses, respiring, and bids hail again
The upland breeze, the comfortable sun,
And all the landscape's hues! Upon the point
Of the descending steep I stand.
How mantling in the gay and gorgeous tints
Of summer! far beneath me, sweeping on,
From field to field, from vale to cultured vale,
The prospect spreads its crowded beauties wide!
Long lines of sunshine, and of shadow, streak
The farthest distance; where the passing light
Alternate falls, 'mid undistinguished trees,
White dots of gleamy domes, and peeping towers,
As from the painter's instant touch, appear.
As thus the eye ranges from hill to hill,
Here white with passing sunshine, there with trees
Innumerable shaded, clustering more,
As the long vale retires, the ample scene,
Warm with new grace and beauty, seems to live.
Lives! all is animation! beauty! hope!
Snatched from the dark and dreamless grave, so late,
Shall I pass silent, now first issuing forth,
To feel again thy fragrance, to respire
Thy breath, to hail thy look, thy living look,
Let me the deep joy contrast,
Which now the inmost heart like music fills,
With the sick chamber's sorrows, oft from morn,
Silent, till lingering eve, save when the sound
Of whispers steal, and bodings breathed more low,
As friends approach the pillow: so awaked
From deadly trance, the sick man lifts his eyes,
Then in despondence closes them on all,
All earth's fond wishes! Oh, how changed are now
His thoughts! he sees rich nature glowing round,
He feels her influence! languid with delight,
And whilst his eye is filled with transient fire,
He almost thinks he hears her gently say,
Live, live! O Nature, thee, in the soft winds,
Thee, in the soothing sound of summer leaves,
When the still earth lies sultry; thee, methinks,
Ev'n now I hear bid welcome to thy vales
And woods again!
And I will welcome them,
And pour, as erst, the song of heartfelt praise.
From yonder line, where fade the farthest hills
Which bound the blue lap of the swelling vale,
On whose last line, seen like a beacon, hangs
Thy tower, benevolent, accomplished Hoare,
To where I stand, how wide the interval!
Yet instantaneous, to the hurrying eye
Displayed; though peeping towers and villages
Thick scattered, 'mid the intermingling elms,
And towns remotely marked by hovering smoke,
And grass-green pastures with their herds, and seats
Of rural beauty, cottages and farms,
Unnumbered as the hedgerows, lie between!
Roaming at large to where the gray sky bends,
The eye scarce knows to rest, till back recalled
By yonder ivied cloisters in the plain,
Whose turret, peeping pale above the shade,
Smiles in the venerable grace of years.
As the few threads of age's silver hairs,
Just sprinkled o'er the forehead, lend a grace
Of saintly reverence, seemly, though compared
With blooming Mary's tresses like the morn;
So the gray weather-stained towers yet wear
A secret charm impressive, though opposed
To views in verdure flourishing, the woods,
And scenes of Attic taste, that glitter near.
O venerable pile, though now no more
The pensive passenger, at evening, hears
The slowly-chanted vesper; or the sounds
Of "Miserere," die along the vale;
Yet piety and honoured age retired,
There hold their blameless sojourn, ere the bowl
Be broken, or the silver chord be loosed.
Nor can I pass, snatched from untimely fate,
Without a secret prayer, that so my age,
When many a circling season has declined,
In charity and peace may wait its close.
Yet still be with me, O delightful friend,
Soothing companion of my vacant hours,
Oh, still be with me, Spirit of the Muse!
Not to subdue, or hold in moody spell,
The erring senses, but to animate
And warm my heart, where'er the prospect smiles,
With Nature's fairest views; not to display
Vain ostentations of a poet's art,
But silent, and associate of my joys
Or sorrows, to infuse a tenderness,
A thought, that seems to mingle, as I gaze,
With all the works of GOD. So cheer my path,
From youth to sober manhood, till the light
Of evening smile upon the fading scene.
And though no pealing clarion swell my fame,
When all my days are gone; let me not pass,
Like the forgotten clouds of yesterday,
Nor unremembered by the fatherless
Of the loved village where my bones are laid.