Felicia Hemans in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine Volume 31 1832/The Swan and the Skylark

For other versions of this work, see The Swan and the Skylark.

Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 31, Pages 216-218



Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
    Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
    Pourest thy full heart,
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Midst the long reeds that o'er a Grecian stream
Unto the faint wind sigh'd melodiously,
And where the sculpture of a broken shrine
Sent out, through shadowy grass and thick wild flowers,
Dim alabaster gleams—a lonely swan
Warbled his death-chant, and a poet stood
Listening to that strange music, as it shook
The lilies on the wave; and made the pines,
And all the laurels of the haunted shore,
Thrill to its passion. Oh! the tones were sweet,
Ev’n painfully—as with the sweetness wrung
From parting love; and to the poet's thought
This was their language.

    "Summer, I depart!
O light and laughing Summer, fare thee well!
No song the less through thy rich woods shall swell,
    For one, one broken heart!

    "And fare ye well, young flowers
Ye will not mourn! Ye will shed odours still,
And wave in glory, colouring every rill
    Known to my youth's fresh hours.

    "And ye, bright founts, that lie
Far in the whispering forest, lone and deep,
My wing no more shall stir your lovely sleep—
    Sweet water, I must die!

    "Will ye not send one tone
Of sorrow through the shades? one murmur low?
Shall not the green leaves from your voices know,
    That I, your child, am gone?

    "No! ever glad and free!
Ye have no sounds a tale of death to tell;
Waves, joyous waves, flow on, and fare ye well!
    Ye will not mourn for me.

    "But thou, sweet boon, too late
Pour'd on my parting breath, vain gift of song!
Why comest thou thus, o'ermastering, rich, and strong,
    In the dark hour of fate?

    "Only to wake the sighs
Of echo-voices from their sparry cell;
Only to say—O sunshine and blue skies!
    O life and love, farewell!"

Thus flow'd the death-chant on; while mournfully
Soft winds and waves made answer, and the tones
Buried in rocks along the Grecian stream,
Rocks and dim caverns of old prophecy,
Woke to respond: and all the air was fill'd
With that one sighing sound—"Farewell, farewell!"
Fill'd with that sound? high in the calm blue heavens
Ev'n then a skylark sung; soft summer clouds
Were floating round him, all transpierced with light,
And midst that pearly radiance his dark wings
Quiver'd with song; such free triumphant song,
As if tears were not—as if breaking hearts
Had not a place below—as if the tomb
Were of another world; and thus that strain
Spoke to the poet's heart exultingly.

"The Summer is come; she hath said, "Rejoice!"
The wild woods thrill to her merry voice;
Her sweet breath is wandering around on high;
Sing, sing, through the echoing sky!

"There is joy in the mountains; the bright waves leap,
Like the bounding stag when he breaks from sleep;
Mirthfully, wildly, they flash along;
Let the heavens ring with song!

"There is joy in the forest; the bird of night
Hath made the leaves tremble with deep delight;
But mine is the glory to sunshine given;
Sing, sing, through the laughing heaven!

"Mine are the wings of the soaring morn,
Mine the free gales with the day-spring born!
Only young rapture can mount so high;
Sing, sing, through the echoing sky!”

So those two voices met: so Joy and Death
Mingled their accents; and, amidst the rush
Of many thoughts, the listening poet cried,
"Oh! thou art mighty, thou art wonderful,
Mysterious Nature! not in thy free range
Of woods and wilds alone, thou blendest thus
The dirge-note and the song of festival!"