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And England's fair and youthful Queen,
And, haply, hast Prince Albert seen,
All in the roaring London season.
And in the smokeless morning thou
Hast crept from out thy starving attic
In Bethnal Green, or Heaven knows where,
To play and sing in Belgrave Square,
And torture ears aristocratic.
And well thou know'st that length and breadth
Of street named of our late Prince Regent;
Where the bass-strings of fashion sound;
And high and low in one compound
Each indescribable ingredient.
And through our hamlets thou hast borne
Thy freight of music late and early ;
And lasses, lads, and white-haired swains,
Have listened to thy foreign strains
Amongst the nodding spikes of barley.
Then turning from our northern mists
Towards southern skies, a sun-led rover,
Didst thou not sicken o'er the wave
That heaves betwixt Boulogne and Dover ?
Then on the hills and plains of France,
With the olive and the vine,
By an intensity of yearning,
And a passionate returning,
Did not thy boyish thoughts entwine ?
Hast thou not burned with noble thirst
The web of nature to unravel ?
And felt thyself indeed a king
When drinking deeply at the spring
Of sweet intoxicating travel ?
Which sets at nought the host of thoughts
That world-encumbered minds beleaguer ;
And in a moment to the van
Of enterprise promotes the man,
Adventurous, undaunted, eager !
And feelest thou not along the blood
The kindlings of a trovatore,
As when, in ages of romance,
Here in Provence, they led the dance
To music pitched to love and glory?
More would I ask: but I have watch'd
Thy mien before those bounteous ladies ;
And to the measure of their boons
The dull recurrence of thy tunes
Shows how mechanical thy trade is.
A pedlar, business-like and keen,
All sentiment no more doth freeze
In bargains driven for rings and laces,
Than thou dost strip of all their graces
Thy merchandize of melodies.
And must thou starve, or Donizetti-
And dilettanti rave and fret
To hear each favourite canzonette
Trolled on thy remorseless barrel ?
And all the while are thy dark eyes
Fired with undaunted gaiety:
But 0, a piteous tale of need
Is thine, which he who runs may read;
A tale which says thou art not free.
Perambulate this thronged hotel,
Poor wanderer, and to thy betters
Around dispense instruction meet ;
Shew what it is with hands and feet
At liberty, to grind in fetters.
Through pain, ungentle nurture, wrong,
Evils far worse than we inherit,
The hand will to the lyre impart
Distempered accents, when the heart
Is saddened, and untuned the spirit.
Avignon, November 2, 1843.
REMAINS OF THE ROMAN AQUEDUCT,
CALLED THE PONT DU GARD.
'ER the gray rocks the olive's silvery green
Is spread—the rain-swollen Gardon foams be-
The goatherd's children under natural bowers
Gather for sport or need wild fruits and flowers-
No human habitation meets the
In that lone spot, where, 'gainst the dark blue sky,
Striding the vale and its loud stream, appear
Arches arrayed on arches, tier on tier;
Whence, as through cloud-made loopholes, lights and
Chequer long alternating colonnades,
Gigantic, yet proportionate :-span that fills
Harmoniously the bosom of the hills;
Subdued to their complexion by the wear
Of centuries ; rich, soft, though regular.
Yet what distempered fancy thus could dream Of cleaving upper air to cross that nether stream ?