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On A Landscape Bt Rubens

William Lisle Bowles 1762 (King's Sutton) – 1850

Nay, let us gaze, ev'n till the sense is full,
Upon the rich creation, shadowed so
That not great Nature, in her loftiest pomp
Of living beauty, ever on the sight
Rose more magnificent; nor aught so fair
Hath Fancy, in her wildest, brightest mood,
Imaged of things most lovely, when the sounds
Of this cold cloudy world at distance sink,
And all alone the warm idea lives
Of what is great, or beautiful, or good,
In Nature's general plan.
So the vast scope,
O Rubens! of thy mighty mind, and such
The fervour of thy pencil, pouring wide
The still illumination, that the mind
Pauses, absorbed, and scarcely thinks what powers
Of mortal art the sweet enchantment wrought.
She sees the painter, with no human touch,
Create, embellish, animate at will,
The mimic scenes, from Nature's ampler range
Caught as by inspiration; while the clouds,
High wandering, and the fairest form of things,
Seem at his bidding to emerge, and burn
With radiance and with life!
Let us, subdued,
Now to the magic of the moment lose
The thoughts of life, and mingle every sense
Ev'n in the scenes before us!
The fresh morn
Of summer shines; the white clouds of the east
Are crisped; beneath, the bright blue champaign steams;
The banks, the meadows, and the flowers, send up
An incensed exhalation, like the meek
And holy praise of Him whose soul's deep joy
The lone woods witness. Thou, whose heart is sick
Of vanities; who, in the throng of men,
Dost feel no lenient fellowship; whose eye
Turns, with a languid carelessness, around
Upon the toiling crowd, still murmuring on,
Restless;--oh, think, in summer scenes like these,
How sweet the sense of quiet gladness is,
That, like the silent breath of morning, steals
From lowly nooks, and feels itself expand
Amid the works of Nature, to the Power
That made them: to the awful thought of HIM
Who, when the morning stars shouted for joy,
Bade the great sun from tenfold darkness burst,
The green earth roll in light, and solitude
First hear the voice of man, whilst hills and woods
Stood eminent, in orient hues arrayed,
His dwelling; and all living Nature smiled,
As in this pictured semblance, beaming full
Before us!
Mark again the various view:
Some city's far-off spires and domes appear,
Breaking the long horizon, where the morn
Sits blue and soft: what glowing imagery
Is spread beneath!--Towns, villages, light smoke,
And scarce-seen windmill-sails, and devious woods,
Chequering 'mid sunshine the grass-level land,
That stretches from the sight.
Now nearer trace
The forms of trees distinct--the broad brown oak;
The poplars, that, with silvery trunks, incline,
Shading the lonely castle; flakes of light
Are flung behind the massy groups, that, now
Enlarging and enlarging still, unfold
Their separate beauties. But awhile delay;
Pass the foot-bridge, and listen (for we hear,
Or think we hear her), listen to the song
Of yonder milkmaid, as she brims her pail;
Whilst, in the yellow pasture, pensive near,
The red cows ruminate.
Break off, break off, for lo! where, all alarmed,
The small birds, from the late resounding perch,
Fly various, hushed their early song; and mark,
Beneath the darkness of the bramble-bank
That overhangs the half-seen brook, where nod
The flowing rushes, dew-besprent, with breast
Ruddy, and emerald wing, the kingfisher
Steals through the dripping sedge away. What shape
Of terrors scares the woodland habitants,
Marring the music of the dawn? Look round;
See, where he creeps, beneath the willowy stump,
Cowering and low, step silent after step,
The booted fowler: keen his look, and fixed
Upon the adverse bank, while, with firm hand,
He grasps the deadly tube; his dog, with ears
Hung back, and still and steady eye of fire,
Points to the prey; the boor, intent, moves on
Panting, and creeping close beneath the leaves,
And fears lest ev'n the rustling reeds betray
His footfall; nearer yet, and yet more near,
He stalks. Who now shall save the heedless group,
The speckled partridges, that in the sun,
On yonder hillock green, across the stream,
Bask unalarmed beneath the hawthorn bush,
Whose aged boughs the crawling blackberry
Entwines!
And thus, upon the sweetest scenes
Of human loveliness, and social peace
Domestic, when the full fond heart reclines
Upon its hopes, and almost mingles tears
Of joy, to think that in this hollow world
Such bliss should be its portion; then (alas,
The bitter change!), then, with his unheard step,
In darkness shrouded, yet approaching fast,
Dea
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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