My sire, of good repute, and sombre mood,
O’er nature’s powers and every mystic zone,
With honest zeal, but methods of his own,
With toil fantastic loved to brood;
His time in dark alchemic cell,
With brother-adepts he would spend,
And there antagonists compel
Through numberless receipts to blend.
A ruddy lion there, a suitor bold,
In tepid bath was with the lily wed.
Thence both, while open flames around them roll’d,
Were tortur’d to another bridal bed.
Was then the youthful queen descried
With varied colors in the flask—
This was our medicine; the patients died;
“Who were restored?” none cared to ask.
With our infernal mixture thus, ere long.
These hills and peaceful vales among
We rag’d more fiercely than the pest;
Myself the deadly poison did to thousands give;
They pined away, I yet must live
To hear the reckless murderers blest.
Why let this thought your soul o’ercast?
Can man do more than with nice skill,
With firm and conscientious will,
Practise the art transmitted from the past?
If thou thy sire dost honor in thy youth,
His lore thou gladly wilt receive;
In manhood, dost thou spread the bounds of truth,
Then may thy son a higher goal achieve.
How blest, in whom the fond desire
From error’s sea to rise, hope still renews!
What a man knows not, that he doth require,
And what he knoweth, that he cannot use.
But let not moody thoughts their shadow throw
O’er the calm beauty of this hour serene!
In the rich sunset see how brightly glow
Yon cottage homes, girt round with verdant green!
Slow sinks the orb, the day is now no more;
Yonder he hastens to diffuse new life.
Oh for a pinion from the earth to soar,
And after, ever after him to strive!
Then should I see the world below,
Bathed in the deathless evening-beams,
The vales reposing, every height a-glow,
The silver brooklets meeting golden streams.
The savage mountain, with its cavern’d side,
Bars not my godlike progress. Lo, the ocean,
Its warm bays heaving with a tranquil motion,
To my rapt vision opes its ample tide!
But now at length the god appears to sink
A new-born impulse wings my flight,
Onward I press, his quenchless light to drink,
The day before me, and behind the night,
The pathless waves beneath, and over me the skies.
Fair dream, it vanish’d with the parting day!
Alas! that when on spirit-wing we rise,
No wing material lifts our mortal clay.
But ’tis our inborn impulse, deep and strong,
Upwards and onwards still to urge our flight,
When far above us pours its thrilling song
The sky-lark, lost in azure light;
When on extended wing amain
O’er pine-crown’d height the eagle soars;
And over moor and lake, the crane
Still striveth toward its native shores.