It fell upon him when a child at play—
That wide-spread sympathy for all that live—
That warm but wayward kindling of the heart,
Which finds relief in words of measured sound.
Had language never been, it would have glowed
Within his soul of flame, an unborn joy,
Rapture unspoken, melody unsung—
The living essence of his spirit's bliss.
Capricious impulse—vagrant flitting light !
It clothes creation in a robe of beams
Borrowed from fairy atmospheres, and wraps
In rain-bow hues unreal, this cold, bleak world.
That panting for the beautiful ; that love
Of loveliness was his inheritance—
To him the Avell-spring of delights intense,
The source of sorrows hidden from the herd.
Quick sensibihties, emotions keen,
Impressed their own deep color on his fate,
And fix'd his lone, peculiar destiny.
The blood of warriors circled in his veins—
Their shields are shadowing their dust's repose,
Tlieir fame is still the lustre of our land.
They were a bold and stern, but generous race,
Ready for battle or for banquet board ;
Their chief delight was in the Held of war;
Their bucklers were a fortress to their friends ;
Behind their flashing brands the weak reposed.
Defiance to the hand that offered wrong,
Though it might wear the iron glaive of power;
To shield the injured though to share his fate ;
Were mottos of the house of Avenel :
And though their records speak of deadly feuds,
Of sudden Avrath awoke at festive board,
Of daring deed provoked by woman's love,
Of blood shed at the sanguinary sports
Of tilt or tournament, they neither wrong'd
Nor suffered wrong, but flung with fearless scorn
At the oppressor's feet their gauntlet down.
Their firm and lofty fearlessness, undim'd,
AVithin the bosom of the fair-hair'd boy.
Proved him no recreant to his warlike line ;
For his blue eve would brighten at the sight
Of danger, and repel the glance of pride
With cool, unshrinking, careless, bold disdain.
Yet the descendant of that martial race,
The undegenerated son of heroes dead,
Wept o'er the wild flower which his foot had crush'd.
Derided oft, misunderstood, disdain'd.
Such tears are gems, pure diamonds of the soul—
The power to shed them is the gift of God !
A soul delighting in the sight of joy,
Depressed and sorrowing at another's woe—
In restless search of something it could love,
With an untiring energy of heart—
And call it still his own renewing bliss
To see it bloom unblemished by decay—
From Him who will'd the color of his life
The minstrel boy received—it was his fate.
His heritage—his weakness—and his power.
His father's sword hung idly in' his hall,
He grasp'd it fearlessly, but loved it not.
A hunter of the wild woods was his sire,
And there, beside his sword, his bugle hung :
But when the boy essayed a blast to blow.
It ended in a cadence bland and soft,
Sweet and most musical, as if the sound
Some winged wanderer from heaven had caught
Lingering in the green glades, of the wood
And charm'd the rude reveillie into love.
Once roaming idly through the ancient hall,
Among neglected trophies of the chase,
Of falconry and woodcraft, half unstrung
He found a Camhrian Harp. His hand he flung
With careless touch, among the trembling strings,
And though discordant was the sound they gave.
It 'woke within him thoughts of the unknown
He dreamt of, storied harmony and song.
The sun went down ; the brown woods seem'd to sleep;
A light breeze softly sung their lullaby ;
The moon appeared o'er Causen's rugged side;
Dark clouds were fring'd with light as she arose ;
Soon, through the blazon'd window, fell her beams
Upon his ardent face, and there at length,
Bent o'er the harp, the lonely boy was found.
Lisping sweet fancies to its strings unstrung.
Irregular and wild the sound which sprung
To childhood's lips, fresh from his teeming heart.
Glowing with embryo passions yet unborn.
His tones expressed the dawning of desire,
And fancy thus might turn them into words.