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A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields/Loneliness (A. de Lamartine)



Oft, oft on the mountain in the shade of an oak
I take, when the sun sets, sad and thoughtful my seat;
The most potent magician would fail to invoke
A picture more changing than the view at my feet.

Here chides the rough streamlet with its waves all in foam,
Then it winds, and is lost in the bushes afar,
There the lake, bright and tranquil, reflects the blue dome,
Adorned simply and chastely with evening's first star.

On summits the loftiest, crowned with woods sombre and high,
Still throws the dim twilight its last lingering ray,
While the car of night's regent mounts slowly the sky
And illumines with silver the horizon's dull grey.

Hark! From the clear-outlined gothic steeple is borne
Solemn, solemn and sweet the rich sound of the bells;
On his pathway the traveller, weary and worn,
Stops to hear the loved concert as faintly it swells.

But a picture like this in my soul gives no birth
To transport or pleasure, for the halo has fled;
Like a wandering spirit I move on the earth,
And the sun of the living warms never the dead.

From hill to far hill, long, long I carry my view,
From the south to the north, from the dawn to the west,
All the points of the vast circle I run through and through,
And say inly, in no place content can I rest.

What care I for palaces, huts, valleys, or woods,
Vain objects of their lustre divested and shorn,
Streams, rocks, green forests, and more adored solitudes;
One being has left me, and ye are all forlorn!

When the march of the day-god commences or ends,
With an eye quite indifferent I follow his range;
What matters to me whether he mounts or descends
In a dark sky or pure, when the days bring no change?

Could I follow the sun's course through all his career,
A blank desert, a void everywhere would I see.
I seek nothing of all he illuminates here;
Visible universe, I ask nothing of thee!

But who knows if beyond the far limits of sight,
Where the True Sun lights up other places and skies,
When my body is dust, and my soul clad in white,
What I dream of so much may not flash to mine eyes!

There shall I drink of the clear fountains I want,
There encounter the sisters long sought, Hope and Love,
Ideal—whose emblems on the earth are but scant,
There, there shall I greet thee, for thy home is above.

Why, why can I not, borne on the car of the morn,
Vague object I long for, dart upwards to thee?
Why linger I still in a forced exile I scorn?
No bond of affection 'twixt the world is, and me.

The reign of green foliage in the wood is but brief,
Falls the leaf, and is whirled by the wind in its play,
Alas! I resemble but too much the poor leaf;
Stormy wind of the north, bear, oh, bear me away!