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George Darley

The Joy of Childhood

Down the dimpled green-sward dancing
Bursts a flaxen-headed bevy,
Bud-lipt boys and girls advancing
Love's irregular little levy.

Rows of liquid eyes in laughter,
How they glimmer, how they quiver!
Sparkling one another after,
Like bright ripples on a river.

Tipsy band of rubious faces,
Flushed with joy's etheral spirit,
Make your mocks and sly grimaces
At Love's self, and do not fear it!

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The Solitary Lyre

Wherefore, unlaurell'd Boy,
Whom the contemptuous Muse will not inspire,
With a sad kind of joy
Still sing'st thou to thy solitary lyre?

The melancholy winds
Pour through unnumber'd reeds their idle woes,
And every Naiad finds
A stream to weep her sorrow as it flows.

Her sighs unto the air
The Wood-maid's native oak doth broadly tell,
And Echo's fond despair
Intelligible rocks re-syllable.

Wherefore then should not I,
Albeit no haughty Muse my heart inspire,
Fated of grief to die,
Impart it to my solitary lyre?

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The Anonymous Poet

You, the choice minions of the proud-lipped nine
Who warble at the great Apollo's knee,
Why do you laugh at these rude lays of mine?
I seek not of your brotherhood to be:
I do not play the public swan, nor try
To curve my proud neck on your vocal streams.
In my own little isle retreated, I
Lost myself in my waters and my dreams:
Forgetful of the world, forgotten too,
The cygnet of my own secluded wave
I sing, whilst dashing up their silver dew
For joy, the petty billows try to rave:
There is a still applause in solitude,
Fitting alike my merits and my mood.

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Nepenthe

O BLEST unfabled Incense Tree,
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!

Half buried to her flaming breast
In this bright tree she makes her nest,
Hundred-sunned Phœnix! when she must
Crumble at length to hoary dust;

Her gorgeous death-bed, her rich pyre
Burnt up with aromatic fire;
Her urn, sight-high from spoiler men,
Her birthplace when self-born again.

The mountainless green wilds among,
Here ends she her unechoing song:
With amber tears and odorous sighs
Mourned by the desert where she dies.

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The Mermaidens' Vesper-Hymn

Troop home to silents grots and caves!
Troop home! And mimic as you go
The mournful winding of the waves
Which to their dark abysses flow!

At this sweet hour, all things beside
In amourous pairs to covert creep;
The swans that brush the evening tide
Homeward and snowy couples keep;

In his green den the murmuring seal
Close by his sleek companion lies;
While singly we to bedward steal,
And close in fruitless sleep our eyes.

In bowers of love men take their rest,
In loveless bowers we sigh alone!
With busom-friends are others blessed, -
But we have none! But we have none!

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The Moon and Sea

Whilst the moon decks herself in Neptune's glass
And ponders over her image in the sea,
Her cloudy locks smoothing from off her face
That she may all as bright as beauty be;
It is my wont to sit upon the shore
And mark with what an even grace she glides
Her two concurrent paths of azure o'er,
One in the heavens, the other in the tides:
Now with a transient veil her face she hides
And ocean blackens with a human frown;
Now her fine screen of vapour she divides
And looks with all her light of beauty down;
Her splendid smile over-silvering the main
Spreads her the glass she looks into again.

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Dirge

Prayer unsaid, and mass unsung, Deadman's dirge must still be rung:
Dingle-dong, the dead-bells sound! Mermen chant his dirge around!

Wash him bloodless, smooth him fair, Stretch his limbs, and sleek his hair
Dingle-dong, the dead-bells go! Mermen swing them to and fro!

In the wormless sand shall he Feast for no foul glutton be:
Dingle-dong, the dead-bells chime! Mermen keep the tone and time!

We must with a tombstone brave Shut the shark out from his grave
Dingle-dong, the dead-bells toll! Mermen dirgers ring his knoll!

Such a slab will we lay o'er him All the dead shall rise before him!
Dingle-dong, the dead-bells boom! Mermen lay him in his tomb!

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To Helene

I sent a ring—a little band
Of emerald and ruby stone,
And bade it, sparkling on thy hand,
Tell thee sweet tales of one
Whose constant memory
Was full of loveliness, and thee.

A shell was graven on its gold,—
'Twas Cupid fix'd without his wings—
To Helene once it would have told
More than was ever told by rings:
But now all 's past and gone,
Her love is buried with that stone.

Thou shalt not see the tears that start
From eyes by thoughts like these beguiled;
Thou shalt not know the beating heart,
Ever a victim and a child:
Yet Helene, love, believe
The heart that never could deceive.

[...] Read more

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Song

Sweet in her green dell the flower of beauty slumbers,
Lull'd by the faint breezes sighing through her hair;
Sleeps she and hears not the melancholy numbers
Breathed to my sad lute 'mid the lonely air.

Down from the high cliffs the rivulet is teeming
To wind round the willow banks that lure him from above:
O that in tears, from my rocky prison streaming,
I too could glide to the bower of my love!

Ah! where the woodbines with sleepy arms have wound her,
Opes she her eyelids at the dream of my lay,
Listening, like the dove, while the fountains echo round her,
To her lost mate's call in the forests far away.

Come then, my bird! For the peace thou ever bearest,
Still Heaven's messenger of comfort to me—
Come—this fond bosom, O faithfullest and fairest,
Bleeds with its death-wound, its wound of love for thee!

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The Fallen Star

A star is gone! a star is gone!
There is a blank in Heaven;
One of the cherub choir has done
His airy course this even.

He sat upon the orb of fire
That hung for ages there,
And lent his music to the choir
That haunts the nightly air.

But when his thousand years are pass'd,
With a cherubic sigh
He vanish'd with his car at last,
For even cherubs die!

Hear how his angel-brothers mourn -
The minstrels of the spheres -
Each chiming sadly in his turn
And dropping splendid tears.

[...] Read more

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