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Nature and Art For an Album

'Man goeth forth' with reckless trust
Upon his wealth of mind,
As if in self a thing of dust
Creative skill might find;
He schemes and toils; stone, wood and ore
Subject or weapon of His power.

By arch and spire, by tower-girt heights,
He would his boast fulfil;
By marble births, and mimic lights,—
Yet lacks one secret still;
Where is the master-hand shall give
To breathe, to move, to speak, to live?

O take away this shade of might,
The puny toil of man,
And let great Nature in my sight
Unroll her gorgeous plan;
I cannot bear those sullen walls,
Those eyeless towers, those tongueless halls.

Art's labour'd toys of highest name
Are nerveless, cold, and dumb;
And man is fitted but to frame
A coffin or a tomb;
Well suits, when sense is pass'd away,
Such lifeless works the lifeless clay.

Here let me sit where wooded hills
Skirt yon far-reaching plain;
While cattle bank its winding rills,
And suns embrown its grain;
Such prospect is to me right dear,
For freedom, health, and joy are here.

There is a spirit ranging through
The earth, the stream, the air;
Ten thousand shapes, garbs ever new,
That busy One doth wear;
In colour, scent, and taste, and sound
The energy of Life is found.

The leaves are rustling in the breeze,
The bird renews her song;
From field to brook, o'er heath, o'er trees,
The sunbeam glides along;
The insect, happy in its hour,
Floats softly by, or sips the flower.

Now dewy rain descends, and now
Brisk showers the welkin shroud;
I care not, though with angry brow
Frowns the red thunder-cloud;
Let hail-storm pelt, and lightning harm,
'Tis Nature's work, and has its charm.

Ah! lovely Nature! others dwell
Full favour'd in thy court;
I of thy smiles but hear them tell,
And feed on their report,
Catching what glimpse an Ulcombe yields
To strangers loitering in her fields.

I go where form has ne'er unbent
The sameness of its sway;
Where iron rule, stern precedent,
Mistreat the graceful day;
To pine as prisoner in his cell,
And yet be thought to love it well.

Yet so His high dispose has set,
Who binds on each his part;
Though absent, I may cherish yet
An Ulcombe of the heart;
Calm verdant hope divinely given,
And suns of peace, and scenes of heaven;—

A soul prepared His will to meet,
Full fix'd His work to do;
Not laboured into sudden heat,
But inly born anew.—
So living Nature, not dull Art,
Shall plan my ways and rule my heart.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:14 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,389
Words 438
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6

John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman CO, also referred to as Cardinal Newman, was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. more…

All John Henry Newman poems | John Henry Newman Books

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    What year was "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" originally published?
    • A. 1701
    • B. 1789
    • C. 1773
    • D. 1761