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The Visionary Boy



Oh! lend that lute, sweet Archimage, to me!
Enough of care and heaviness
The weary lids of life depress,
And doubly blest that gentle heart shall be,
That wooes of poesy the visions bland,
And strays forgetful o'er enchanted land!
Oh! lend that lute, sweet Archimage, to me!
So spoke, with ardent look, yet eyebrow sad,
When he had passed o'er many a mountain rude,
And many a wild and weary solitude,
'Mid a green vale, a wandering minstrel-lad.
With eyes that shone in softened flame,
With wings and wand, young Fancy came;
And as she touched a trembling lute,
The lone enthusiast stood entranced and mute.
It was a sound that made his soul forego
All thoughts of sadness in a world of woe.
Oh, lend that lute! he cried: Hope, Pity, Love,
Shall listen; and each valley, rock, and grove,
Shall witness, as with deep delight,
From orient morn to dewy-stealing night.
My spirit, rapt in trance of sweetness high,
Shall drink the heartfelt sound with tears of ecstasy!
As thus he spoke, soft voices seemed to say,
Come away, come away;
Where shall the heart-sick minstrel stray,
But (viewing all things like a dream)
By haunted wood, or wizard stream?
That, like a hermit weeping,
Amid the gray stones creeping;
With voice distinct, yet faint,
Calls on Repose herself to hear its soothing plaint.
For him, romantic Solitude
Shall pile sublime her mountains rude;
For him, with shades more soft impressed,
The lucid lake's transparent breast
Shall show the banks, the woods, the hill,
More clear, more beautiful, more still.
For him more musical shall wave
The pines o'er Echo's moonlit cave;
While sounds as of a fairy lyre
Amid the shadowy cliffs expire!
This valley where the raptured minstrel stood
Was shaded with a circling slope of wood,
And rich in beauty, with that valley vied,
Thessalian Tempe, crowned with verdant bay,
Where smooth and clear Peneus winds his way;
And Ossa and Olympus, on each side,
Rise dark with woods; or that Sicilian plain
Which Arethusa's clearest waters lave,
By many a haunt of Pan, and wood-nymph's cave,
Lingering and listening to the Doric strain
Of him, the bard whose music might succeed
To the wild melodies of Pan's own reed!
This scene the mistress of the valley held,
Fancy, a magic maid; and at her will,
Aerial castles crowned the gleaming hill,
Or forests rose, or lapse of water welled.
Sometimes she sat with lifted eye,
And marked the dark storm in the western sky;
Sometimes she looked, and scarce her breath would draw,
As fearful things, not to be told, she saw;
And sometimes, like a vision of the air,
On wings of shifting light she floated here and there.
In the breeze her garments flew,
Of the brightest skiey blue,
Lucid as the tints of morn,
When Summer trills his pipe of corn:
Her tresses to each wing descending fall,
Or, lifted by the wind,
Stream loose and unconfined,
Like golden threads, beneath her myrtle coronal.
The listening passions stood aloof and mute,
As oft the west wind touched her trembling lute.
But when its sounds the youthful minstrel heard,
Strange mingled feelings, not to be expressed,
Rose undefined, yet blissful, on his breast,
And all the softened scene in sweeter light appeared.
Then Fancy waved her wand, and lo!
An airy troop went beckoning by:
Come, from toil and worldly woe;
Come, live with us in vales remote! they cry.
These are the flitting phantasies; the dreams
That lead the heart through all that elfin land,
Where half-seen shapes entice with whispers bland.
Meantime the clouds, impressed with livelier beams,
Roll, in the lucid track of air,
Arrayed in coloured brede, with semblances more fair.
The airy troop, as on they sail,
Thus the pensive stranger hail:
In the pure and argent sky,
There our distant chambers lie;
The bed is strewed with blushing roses,
When Quietude at eve reposes,
Oft trembling lest her bowers should fade,
In the cold earth's humid shade.
Come, rest with us! evanishing, they cried--
Come, rest with us! the lonely vale replied.
Then Fancy beckoned, and with smiling mien,
A radiant form arose, like the fair Queen
Of Beauty: from her eye divinely bright,
A richer lustre shot, a more attractive light.
She said: With fairer tints I can adorn
The living landscape, fairer than the morn.
The summer clouds in shapes romantic rolled,
And those they edge the fading west, like gold;
The lake that sleeps in sunlight, yet impressed
With shades more sweet than real on its breast;
'Mid baffling stones, beneath a partia
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:54 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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