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 . Music

    O MUSIC! if thou hast a charm
    That may the sense of pain disarm,
    Be all thy tender tones addressed
    To soothe to peace my Harriet's breast;
    And bid the magic of thy strain
    So still the wakeful throb of pain,
    That, rapt in the delightful measure,
    Sweet Hope again may whisper pleasure,
    And seem the notes of Spring to hear,
    Prelusive to a happier year!
    And if thy magic can restore
    The shade of days that smile no more,
    And softer, sweeter colours give
    To scenes that in remembrance live;
    Be to her pensive heart a friend,
    And, whilst the tender shadows blend,
    Recall, ere the brief trace be lost,
    Each moment that she prized the most.
    Perhaps, when many a cheerful day
    Hereafter shall have stolen away,
    If then some old and favourite strain
    Should bring back to her thoughts again
    The hours when, silent by her side,
    I listened to her song and sighed;
    Perhaps a long-forgotten name,
    A thought, if not a tear may claim;
    And when in distant plains away,
    Alone I count each lingering day,
    She may a silent prayer prefer
    For him whose heart once bled for her.

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Water-Party on Beaulieu River, in the New Forest

    I THOUGHT 'twas a toy of the fancy, a dream
    That leads with illusion the senses astray,
    And I sighed with delight as we stole down the stream,
    While the sun, as he smiled on our sail, seemed to say,
    Rejoice in my light, ere it fade fast away!

    We left the loud rocking of ocean behind,
    And stealing along the clear current serene,
    The Phaedria spread her white sails to the wind,
    And they who divided had many a day been,
    Gazed with added delight on the charms of the scene.

    Each bosom one spirit of peace seemed to feel;
    We heard not the tossing, the stir, and the roar
    Of the ocean without; we heard only the keel,
    The keel that went whispering along the green shore,
    And the stroke, as it dipped, of the feathering oar.

    Beneath the dark woods now, as winding we go,
    What sounds of rich harmony burst on the ear!
    Hark, cheer'ly the loud-swelling clarionets blow;
    Now the tones gently die, now more mellow we hear
    The horns through the high forest echoing clear!

    They cease; and no longer the echoes prolong
    The swell of the concert; in silence we float--
    In silence! Oh, listen! 'tis woman's sweet song--
    The bends of the river reply to each note,
    And the oar is held dripping and still from the boat.

    Mark the sun that descends o'er the curve of the flood!
    Seize, Wilmot, the pencil, and instant convey
    To the tablet the water, the banks, and the wood,
    That their colours may live without change or decay,
    When these beautiful tints die in darkness away.

    So when we are parted, and tossed on the deep,
    And no longer the light on our prospect shall gleam,
    The semblance of one lovely scene we may keep,
    And remember the day, and the hour, like a dream,
    When we sighed with delight as we stole down the stream!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Stanzas for Music

    I TRUST the happy hour will come,
    That shall to peace thy breast restore;
    And that we two, beloved friend,
    Shall one day meet to part no more.

    It grieves me most, that parting thus,
    All my soul feels I dare not speak;
    And when I turn me from thy sight,
    The tears in silence wet my cheek.

    Yet I look forward to the time,
    That shall each wound of sorrow heal;
    When I may press thee to my heart,
    And tell thee all that now I feel.

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Inscription

    COME, and where these runnels fall,
    Listen to my madrigal!
    Far from all sounds of all the strife,
    That murmur through the walks of life;
    From grief, inquietude, and fears,
    From scenes of riot, or of tears;
    From passions, cankering day by day,
    That wear the inmost heart away;
    From pale Detraction's envious spite,
    That worries where it fears to bite;
    From mad Ambition's worldly chase,
    Come, and in this shady place,
    Be thine Contentment's humble joys,
    And a life that makes no noise,
    Save when fancy, musing long,
    Turns to desultory song;
    And wakes some lonely melody,
    Like the water dripping by.
    Come, and where these runnels fall,
    Listen to my madrigal!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Selections from Sketches at the Exhibition, 1807


    WITH mirth unfeigned the cottage chimney rings,
    Though only vocal with four fiddle-strings:
    And see, the poor blind fiddler draws his bow,
    And lifts intent his time-denoting toe;
    While yonder maid, as blythe as birds in June,
    You almost hear her whistle to the tune!
    Hard by, a lad, in imitative guise,
    Fixed, fiddle-like, the broken bellows plies;
    Before the hearth, with looks of honest joy,
    The father chirrups to the chattering boy,
    And snaps his lifted thumbs with mimic glee,
    To the glad urchin on his mother's knee!


    Up! for the morning shines with welcome ray,
    And to the sunny seabeach let us stray.
    What orient hues proclaim the master's hand!
    How light the wave upon the half-wet sand!
    How beautiful the sun, as still we gaze,
    Streams all diffusive through the opening haze!
    Artist--when to the thunder's pealing sound,
    Fire mixed with hailstones ran upon the ground,
    When partial darkness the dread prospect hid,
    And sole aspired the aged pyramid--
    Sublimity thy genius seemed to guide
    O'er Egypt's champaign, desolate and wide;
    But here delightful beauty reigns alone,
    And decks the morning scene with graces all her own.


    Through the wood's maze our eyes delighted stray,
    To mark the rustics on the market-day.
    Beneath the branches winds the long white road;
    Here peeps the rustic cottager's abode;
    There in the morning sun, the children play,
    Or the crone creeps along the dusty way.

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Dirge of Nelson

    TOLL Nelson's knell! a soul more brave
    Ne'er triumphed on the green-sea wave!
    Sad o'er the hero's honoured grave,
    Toll Nelson's knell!

    The ball of Death unerring flew;
    His cheek has lost its ardent hue;
    He sinks, amid his gallant crew!
    Toll Nelson's knell!

    Yet lift, brave chief, thy dying eyes;
    Hark! loud huzzas around thee rise;
    Aloft the flag of conquest flies!
    The day is won!

    The day is won--peace to the brave!
    But whilst the joyous streamers wave,
    We'll think upon the victor's grave!
    Peace to the brave!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Sun-Dial, in the Churchyard of Bremhill

    SO PASSES silent o'er the dead thy shade,
    Brief Time; and hour by hour, and day by day,
    The pleasing pictures of the present fade,
    And like a summer vapour steal away!

    And have not they, who here forgotten lie
    (Say, hoary chronicler of ages past!)
    Once marked thy shadow with delighted eye,
    Nor thought it fled, how certain, and how fast!

    Since thou hast stood, and thus thy vigil kept,
    Noting each hour, o'er mouldering stones beneath;
    The pastor and his flock alike have slept,
    And dust to dust proclaimed the stride of death.

    Another race succeeds, and counts the hour,
    Careless alike; the hour still seems to smile,
    As hope, and youth, and life, were in our power;
    So smiling and so perishing the while.

    I heard the village bells, with gladsome sound,
    When to these scenes a stranger I drew near,
    Proclaim the tidings to the village round,
    While memory wept upon the good man's bier.

    Even so, when I am dead, shall the same bells
    Ring merrily, when my brief days are gone;
    While still the lapse of time thy shadow tells,
    And strangers gaze upon my humble stone!

    Enough, if we may wait in calm content,
    The hour that bears us to the silent sod;
    Blameless improve the time that heaven has lent,
    And leave the issue to thy will, O God!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . To a Friend

    GO, THEN, and join the murmuring city's throng!
    Me thou dost leave to solitude and tears;
    To busy phantasies, and boding fears,
    Lest ill betide thee; but 'twill not be long
    Ere the hard season shall be past; till then
    Live happy; sometimes the forsaken shade
    Remembering, and these trees now left to fade;
    Nor, 'mid the busy scenes and hum of men,
    Wilt thou my cares forget: in heaviness
    To me the hours shall roll, weary and slow,
    Till mournful autumn past, and all the snow
    Of winter pale, the glad hour I shall bless
    That shall restore thee from the crowd again,
    To the green hamlet on the peaceful plain.

    William Lisle Bowles, 1792

 . At Oxford, 1786

    BEREAVE me not of Fancy's shadowy dreams,
    Which won my heart, or when the gay career
    Of life begun, or when at times a tear
    Sat sad on memory's cheek--though loftier themes
    Await the awakened mind to the high prize
    Of wisdom, hardly earned with toil and pain,
    Aspiring patient; yet on life's wide plain
    Left fatherless, where many a wanderer sighs
    Hourly, and oft our road is lone and long,
    'Twere not a crime should we a while delay
    Amid the sunny field; and happier they
    Who, as they journey, woo the charm of song,
    To cheer their way;--till they forget to weep,
    And the tired sense is hushed, and sinks to sleep.

    William Lisle Bowles

 . On Hearing "The Messiah"


    OH, STAY, harmonious and sweet sounds, that die
    In the long vaultings of this ancient fane!
    Stay, for I may not hear on earth again
    Those pious airs--that glorious harmony;
    Lifting the soul to brighter orbs on high,
    Worlds without sin or sorrow!
    Ah, the strain
    Has died--ev'n the last sounds that lingeringly
    Hung on the roof ere they expired!
    And I,
    Stand in the world of strife, amidst a throng,
    A throng that recks not or of death, or sin!
    Oh, jarring scenes! to cease, indeed, ere long;
    The worm hears not the discord and the din;
    But he whose heart thrills to this angel song,
    Feels the pure joy of heaven on earth begin!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . To Sir Walter Scott


    SINCE last I saw that countenance so mild,
    Slow-stealing age, and a faint line of care,
    Had gently touched, methought, some features there;
    Yet looked the man as placid as a child,
    And the same voice,--whilst mingled with the throng,
    Unknowing, and unknown, we passed along,--
    That voice, a share of the brief time beguiled!
    That voice I ne'er may hear again, I sighed
    At parting,--wheresoe'er our various way,
    In this great world,--but from the banks of Tweed,
    As slowly sink the shades of eventide,
    Oh! I shall hear the music of his reed,
    Far off, and thinking of that voice, shall say,
    A blessing rest upon thy locks of gray!

    William Lisle Bowles

 . Southampton Water

    SMOOTH went our boat upon the summer seas,
    Leaving, for so it seemed, the world behind,
    Its sounds of mingled uproar: we, reclined
    Upon the sunny deck, heard but the breeze
    That o'er us whispering passed, or idly played
    With the lithe flag aloft. A woodland scene
    On either side drew its slope line of green,
    And hung the water's shining edge with shade.
    Above the woods, Netley! thy ruins pale
    Peered as we passed; and Vecta's azure hue
    Beyond the misty castle met our view;
    Where in mid channel hung the scarce seen sail.
    So all was calm and sunshine as we went
    Cheerily o'er the briny element.
    Oh! were this little boat to us the world,
    As thus we wandered far from sounds of care,
    Circled by friends and gentle maidens fair,
    Whilst morning airs the waving pennant curled;
    How sweet were life's long voyage, till in peace
    We gained that haven still, where all things cease!

    William Lisle Bowles

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