To strange conceits oft I myself must own,
But impulse such as this I ne’er have known
Nor woods, nor fields, can long our thoughts engage;
Their wings I envy not the feather’d kind;
Far otherwise the pleasures of the mind
Bear us from book to book, from page to page I
Then winter nights grow cheerful; keen delight
Warms every limb; and ah! when we unroll
Some old and precious parchment, at the sight
All heaven itself descends upon the soul.
Thy heart by one sole impulse is possess’d;
Unconscious of the other still remain!
Two souls, alas! are lodg’d within my breast,
Which struggle there for undivided reign
One to the world, with obstinate desire,
And closely-cleaving organs, still adheres;
Above the mist, the other doth aspire,
With sacred vehemence, to purer spheres.
Oh, are there spirits in the air
Who float ’twixt heaven and earth dominion wielding,
Stoop hither from your golden atmosphere,
Lead me to scenes, new life and fuller yielding!
A magic mantle did I but possess,
Abroad to waft me as on viewless wings,
I’d prize it far beyond the costliest dress,
Nor would I change it for the robe of kings.
Call not the spirits who on mischief wait!
Their troop familiar, streaming through the air,
From every quarter threaten man’s estate,
And danger in a thousand forms prepare!
They drive impetuous from the frozen north,
With fangs sharp-piercing, and keen arrowy tongues;
From the ungenial east they issue forth,
And prey, with parching breath, upon thy lungs;
If, waft’d on the desert’s flaming wing,
They from the south heap fire upon the brain,
Refreshment from the west at first they bring,
Anon to drown thyself and field and plain.
In wait for mischief, they are prompt to hear;
With guileful purpose our behests obey;
Like ministers of grace they oft appear,
And lisp like angels, to betray.
But let us hence! Gray eve doth all things blend,
The air grows chill, the mists descend!
’Tis in the evening first our home we prize—
Why stand you thus, and gaze with wondering eyes?
What in the gloom thus moves you?
Yon black hound
See ’st thou, through corn and stubble scampering round?
I’ve mark’d him long, naught strange in him I see!
Note him! What takest thou the brute to be?
But for a poodle, whom his instinct serves
His master’s track to find once more.