Ere the birth of my life, if I wished it or no
No question was asked me--it could not be so !
If the life was the question, a thing sent to try
And to live on be YES; what can NO be ? to die.
All look and likeness caught from earth
All accident of kin and birth,
Had pass'd away. There was no trace
Of aught on that illumined face,
O Liberty ! with profitless endeavour
Have I pursued thee, many a weary hour ;
But thou nor swell'st the victor's strain, nor ever
Didst breathe thy soul in forms of human power
(Composed at Clevedon, Somersetshire)
My pensive Sara! thy soft cheek reclined
Thus on mine arm, most soothing sweet it is
On the wide level of a mountain's head,
(I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place)
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails out-spread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,
We pledged our hearts, my love and I,
I in my arms the maiden clasping;
I could not tell the reason why,
But, O, I trembled like an aspen!
The sole true Something--This ! In Limbo Den
It frightens Ghosts as Ghosts here frighten men--
For skimming in the wake it mock'd the care
Of the old Boat-God for his Farthing Fare ;
Friend of the Wise ! and Teacher of the Good !
Into my heart have I received that Lay
More than historic, that prophetic Lay
Wherein (high theme by thee first sung aright)
Of the foundations and the building up
This is now--this was erst,
Proposition the first--and Problem the first.
On a given finite Line
A sunny shaft did I behold,
From sky to earth it slanted:
And poised therein a bird so bold
Sweet bird, thou wert enchanted!