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Coombe-Ellen

Call the strange spirit that abides unseen
In wilds, and wastes, and shaggy solitudes,
And bid his dim hand lead thee through these scenes
That burst immense around! By mountains, glens,
And solitary cataracts that dash
Through dark ravines; and trees, whose wreathed roots
O'erhang the torrent's channelled course; and streams,
That far below, along the narrow vale,
Upon their rocky way wind musical.
Stranger! if Nature charm thee, if thou lovest
To trace her awful steps, in glade or glen,
Or under covert of the rocking wood,
That sways its murmuring and mossy boughs
Above thy head; now, when the wind at times
Stirs its deep silence round thee, and the shower
Falls on the sighing foliage, hail her here
In these her haunts; and, rapt in musings high,
Think that thou holdest converse with some Power
Invisible and strange; such as of yore
Greece, in the shades of piney Maenalaus,
The abode of Pan, or Ida's hoary caves,
Worshipped; and our old Druids, 'mid the gloom
Of rocks and woods like these, with muttered spell
Invoked, and the loud ring of choral harps.
Hast thou oft mourned the chidings of the world,
The sound of her disquiet, that ascends
For ever, mocking the high throne of GOD!
Hast thou in youth known sorrow! Hast thou drooped,
Heart-stricken, over youth's and beauty's grave,
And ever after thought on the sad sound
The cold earth made, which, cast into the vault,
Consigned thy heart's best treasure--dust to dust!
Here, lapped into a sweet forgetfulness,
Hang o'er the wreathed waterfall, and think
Thou art alone in this dark world and wide!
Here Melancholy, on the pale crags laid,
Might muse herself to sleep; or Fancy come,
Witching the mind with tender cozenage,
And shaping things that are not; here all day
Might Meditation listen to the lapse
Of the white waters, flashing through the cleft,
And, gazing on the many shadowing trees,
Mingle a pensive moral as she gazed.
High o'er thy head, amidst the shivered slate,
Behold, a sapling yet, the wild ash bend,
Its dark red berries clustering, as it wished
In the clear liquid mirror, ere it fell,
To trace its beauties; o'er the prone cascade,
Airy, and light, and elegant, the birch
Displays its glossy stem, amidst the gloom
Of alders and jagged fern, and evermore
Waves her light pensile foliage, as she wooed
The passing gale to whisper flatteries.
Upon the adverse bank, withered, and stripped
Of all its pleasant leaves, a scathed oak
Hangs desolate, once sovereign of the scene,
Perhaps, proud of its beauty and its strength,
And branching its broad arms along the glen:
Oh, speaks it no remonstrance to the heart!
It seems to say: So shall the spoiler come,
The season that shall shatter your fair leaves,
Gay children of the summer! yet enjoy
Your pleasant prime, and lift your green heads high,
Exulting; but the storm will come at last,
That shall lay low your strength, and give your pride
To the swift-hurrying stream of age, like mine.
And so severe Experience oft reproves
The gay and careless children of the world;
They hear the cold rebuke, and then again
Turn to their sport, as likes them, and dance on!
And let them dance; so all their blooming prime
They give not up to vanity, but learn
That wisdom and that virtue which shall best
Avail them, when the evil days draw nigh,
And the brief blossoms of their spring-time fade.
Now wind we up the glen, and hear below
The dashing torrent, in deep woods concealed,
And now again white-flashing on the view,
O'er the huge craggy fragments. Ancient stream,
That murmurest through the mountain solitudes,
The time has been when no eye marked thy course,
Save His who made the world! Fancy might dream
She saw thee thus bound on from age to age
Unseen of man, whilst awful Nature sat
On the rent rocks, and said: These haunts be mine.
Now Taste has marked thy features; here and there
Touching with tender hand, but injuring not,
Thy beauties; whilst along thy woody verge
Ascends the winding pathway, and the eye
Catches at intervals thy varied falls.
But loftier scenes invite us; pass the hill,
And through the woody hanging, at whose feet
The tinkling Ellen winds, pursue thy way.
Yon bleak and weather-whitened rock, immense,
Upshoots amidst the scene, craggy and steep,
And like some high-embattled citadel,
That awes the low plain shadowing. Half-way up
The purple heath is seen, but bare its brow,
And deep-intrenched, and all beneath it spread
With massy fragments riven from its top.
Amidst the crags, and scarce discerned so high
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:56 min read
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William Lisle Bowles

William Lisle Bowles was an English poet and critic In 1783 he won the chancellors prize for Latin verse In 1789 he published in a small quarto volume Fourteen Sonnets which were received with extraordinary favour not only by the general public but by such men as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wordsworth The Sonnets even in form were a revival a return to an older and purer poetic style and by their grace of expression melodious versification tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry more…

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    "Coombe-Ellen" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/40863/coombe-ellen>.

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