[Dominic Carlone has kindly shared Snatched Away in Beauty's Bloom, his elegantly designed Hallam site at the University of Windsor (from which this document comes), with readers of the Victorian Web.]
I lay within a little bowered nook,
With all green leaves, nothing but green around me,
And through their delicate comminglings flashed
The broken light of a sunned waterfall--
Ah, water of such freshness, that it was
A marvel and an envy! There I lay,
And felt the joy of life for many an hour.
But when the revel of sensations
Gave place to meditation and discourse,
I waywardly began to moralise
That little theatre with its watery scene
Into quaint semblances of higher things.
And first methought that twinèd foliage
Each leaf from each how different, yet all stamped
With common hue of green, and similar form,
Pictured in little the great human world.
Sure we are leaves of one harmonious bower,
Fed by a sap, that never will be scant,
All-permeating, all-producing mind;
And in our several parcellings of doom
We but fulfil the beauty of the whole.
Oh madness! if a leaf should dare complain
Of its dark verdure, and aspire to be
The gayer, brighter thing that wantons near.
Then as I looked
On the pure presence of that tumbling stream,
Pure amid thwarting stones and staining earth,
Oh Heaven! methought how hard it were to find
A human bosom of such stubborn truth,
Yet tempered so with yielding courtesy.
Then something rose within my heart to say--
'Maidenly virtue, born of privacy,
Lapt in a still conclusion and reserve;
Yet, when the envious winter-time is come
That kills the flaunting blossoms all a row,
If that perforce her steps must be abroad,
Keeps, like that stream, a queenly haviour,
Free from all taint of that she treads upon;
And like those hurrying atoms in their fall,
A maiden's thoughts may dare the eye of day
To look upon their sweet sincerity.'
With that I struck into a different strain:--
'Oh ye wild atomies, whose headlong life
Is but an impulse and coaction,
Whose course hath no beginning, no, nor end;
Are ye not weary of your mazèd whirls,
Your tortuous deviations, and the strife
Of your opposèd bubblings? Are there not
In you, as in all creatures, quiet moods,
Deep longings for a slumber and a calm?
I never say a bird was on the wing
But with a homeward joy he seem'd to fly
As knowing all his toils' o'er-paid reward
Was with his chirpers in their little nest.
Pines have I seen on Jura's misty height,
Swinging amid the whirl-blasts of the North,
And shaking their old heads with laugh prolonged,
As if they joyed to share the mighty life
Of elements--the freedom, and the stir.
But when the gale was past, and the rent air
Returned, and the piled clouds rolled out of view,
How still th'interminable forest then!
Soundless, but for the myriad forest flies,
That hum a busy little life away
I' th'amplitude of those ustartled glades.
Why what a rest was there! But ye, oh ye!
Poor aliens from the fixed vicissitudes,
That alternate throughout created things,
Mocked with incessantness of motion,
Where shall ye find or changement or repose?'
So spake I in the fondness of my mood.
But thereat Fancy sounded me a voice
Borne upward from that sparkling company:
'Repinement dwells not with the duteous free.
We do th'Eternal Will; and in that doing,
Subject to no seducement or oppose,
We owe a privelege, that reasoning man
Hath no true touch of.' At that reproof the tears
Flushed to mine eyes; and I arose, and walked
With a more earnest and reverent heart
Forth to the world, which God had made so fair,
Mired now with trails of error and of sin.
Last modified 8 April 2000.