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Poem by William Lisle Bowles


Monody Written at Matlock


MATLOCK! amid thy hoary-hanging views,
Thy glens that smile sequestered, and thy nooks
Which yon forsaken crag all dark oerlooks,
Once more I court the long-neglected Muse,
As erst when by the mossy brink and falls
Of solitary Wainsbeck, or the side
Of Clysdales cliffs, where first her voice she tried,
I strayed a pensive boy. Since then, the thralls
That wait lifes upland road have chilled her breast,
And much, as much they might, her wing depressed.
Wan Indolence, resigned, her deadening hand
Laid on her heart, and Fancy her cold wand
Dropped at the frown of fortune; yet once more
I call her, and once more her converse sweet,
Mid the still limits of this wild retreat,
I woo;if yet delightful as of yore
My heart she may revisit, nor deny
The soothing aid of some sweet melody!
  I hail the rugged scene that bursts around;
I mark the wreathéd roots, the saplings gray,
That bend oer the dark Derwents wandering way;
I mark its stream with peace-persuading sound
That steals beneath the fading foliage pale,
Or at the foot of frowning crags upreared,
Complains like one forsaken and unheard.
To me, it seems to tell the pensive tale
Of spring-time, and the summer days all flown:
And while sad autumns voice even now I hear
Along the umbrage of the high-wood moan,
At intervals, whose shivering leaves fall sere;
Whilst oer the group of pendant groves I view
The slowly spreading tints of pining hue,
I think of poor humanitys brief day,
How fast its blossoms fade, its summers speed away!

*        *        *        *        *

  Yet the bleak cliffs that lift their head so high
(Around whose beetling crags with ceaseless coil
And still-returning flight the ravens toil)
Heed not the changeful seasons as they fly,
Nor spring nor autumn; they their hoary brow
Uprear, and ages past, as in this now,
The same deep trenches unsubdued have worn,
The same majestic frown and looks of lofty scorn.
  So Fortitude, a mailéd warrior old,
Appears; he lifts his scar-intrenchéd crest;
The tempest gathers round his dauntless breast;
He hears far off the storm of havoc rolled;
The feeble fall around: their sound is past;
Their sun is set, their place no more is known;
Like the wan leaves before the winters blast,
They perish;he unshaken and alone
Remains, his brow a sterner shade assumes
By age ennobled, whilst the hurricane
That raves resistless oer the ravaged plain
But shakes unfelt his helmets quivering plume.



William Lisle Bowles


William Lisle Bowles's other poems:
  1. On the Funeral of Charles the First at Night, in St. Georges Chapel, Windsor
  2. Restoration of Malmesbury Abbey
  3. Elegy Written at the Hot-Wells, Bristol
  4. Sonnet 3. O thou, whose stern command and precepts pure
  5. Banwell Hill


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