Moods of the Mind.

No. X.


The autumnal sun, with melancholy ray,1
Towards the approach of twilight, from the west2
Faintly shone out ; some specks of fleecy cloud,3
Scarce coloured by his glory, hover’d round ;4
The wind was not : and, as the shadows threw5
Their darkness far, the pausing spirit felt6
The deep impressive stillness of that hour !7
Sure never place was more forlorn :— I saw,8
Sole image of existence, the grey hawk9
Perch’d on an antique stone, once character’d10
With figures, now all lichen-overgrown.—11
Four-sided rose the walls around me, dark,12
And sprinkled with the moss of many a year,13
Grey mouldering lime, and iron weather-stains,14
Piled in old times remote, by artisans15
Long perished, leaving not a trace behind.—16
Hard by, in ancient times, a hamlet stood17
Fair, as tradition tells :— its habitants,18
Sequester’d from the scenes of city life,19
Were simple, and were peaceful, like the men20
Of patriarchal days ; in love they dwelt,21
In hope they died, and here were laid to rest.22
Arising with the lark, at morn they drove23
Their team a-field ; or, on the neighbouring hills,24
From wanderings and from danger kept their flocks,25
The long blue summer through ; and when the snows26
O’erspread the verdant pasture, by the hearth27
’Twas theirs to sing amid their household tasks ;28
Friendship together knit their willing hearts ;29
Nor was Love distant, with her rosy smile,30
And laughing eyes, to bless the younger train.—31
Now, where the hamlet stood, the fern and moss32
Spread thick ; with prickles arm’d, the bramble throws33
Its snake-like branches round ; the broad-leav’d dock34
Shoots rankly ; and uncheck’d the nettles spring35
Luxuriant, with their tufts of hanging seed.36
Silent—alone—one melancholy tree,37
With rifted rind, and long, lean, hanging boughs,38
Like skeleton arms, upon the wither’d heath39
Stands desolate ; and with its quivering leaf,40
That, as in mockery, saws the twilight sky,41
Whispers, how spareless Time hath triumph’d there !42
How silent !— Even the beating of my heart43
Feels an intrusion here :— the sward is dim44
With moss and danky weeds, and lichen’d stones45
That seem, as if from immemorial time,46
Upon the same spot to have lain untouch’d.47
The very graves have moulder’d to decay,48
Tenantless—boneless—clods of common earth :49
The storms, the piercing winds, and plashing rains,50
So long have beat upon them, and the snows,51
Melting in spring, so often soak’d them through52
And through, that every undulating swell53
Is levell’d.
Oh ! how dim, how desolate !—54
The aspect of mortality is press’d55
Like lead upon my soul :— that human things56
Such as I am, and others are, and such57
As those were, who of old were buried here,58
Should lie and rot amid the damp, wet, mould,59
Moveless, and voiceless, senseless, silent, still,60
To nourish for a while the earth-worm’s brood,—61
Then pass to nothing, like a morning mist,—62
Nor leave one token, nor one trace behind !63
Musing, I stand a breathing creature here64
In loneliness, beneath the twilight sky,65
Silent, and circled with forgotten graves !—66
A hundred years have come, and passed away,67
Since last a fellow mortal in this field68
Did make his bed of rest ; a hundred years,69
Eluded, have the drilling insects bored70
Their passage through the sterile soil, nor found71
Aught new to be a banquet for their brood ;—72
No kind descendant, kindling with the fire73
Of ancestry, in filial reverence comes74
Hither to gaze, where his forefathers lay ;75
Their generation, their descendants, all76
That knew them living, or might weep them dead—77
Their thoughts, their deeds, their names, their memories,78
Have floated down the stream of time, to join79
The ocean of oblivion, on whose breast80
Of their existence not one wreck appears.—81
Silently as the clouds of summer heaven,82
Across the skies of life they fleeted by,83
And were not ; like the flaky snow, that falls84
Melting within the ocean stream ;— the mist85
That floats upon the gentle morning air,86
And dies to nothingness at glowing noon ;87
Like valley flowers, which at the sunrise ope88
Their golden cups, and shut at eventide !89
A remnant from the flock of human kind90
They lie cut off—a solitary tribe :91
Now o’er the spot, where erst their ashes lay,92
The dews may fall, the rains may beat unknown,93
The winds may journey, and the weeds may spring,—94
None heed them, and none hear them—all is still.95