Mr. W. WESTALL'S VIEWS OF THE CAVES, &c.
The following Sonnets having lately appeared in Periodical
Publications are here reprinted.
Pure element of waters! wheresoe'er
Thou dost forsake thy subterranean haunts,
Green herbs, bright flowers, and berry-bearing plants,
—Rise into life and in thy train appear:
And, through the sunny portion of the year,
Swift insects shine, thy hovering pursuivants;
And, if thy bounty fail, the forest pants;
And hart and hind and hunter with his spear,
Languish and droop together. Nor unfelt
In man's perturbed soul thy sway benign;
And, haply, far within the marble belt
Of central earth, where tortured Spirits pine
For grace and goodness lost, thy murmurs melt
Their anguish,—and they blend sweet songs with thine!
At early dawn,—or rather when the air
Glimmers with fading light, and shadowy eve
Is busiest to confer and to bereave,—
Then, pensive votary, let thy feet repair
To Gordale-chasm, terrific as the lair
WTiere the young lions couch;—for so, by leave
Of the propitious hour, thou may'st perceive
The local Deity, with oozy hair
And mineral crown, beside his jagged urn
Recumbent:—Him thou may'st behold, who hides
His lineaments by day, and there presides,
Teaching the docile waters how to turn;
Or, if need be, impediment to spurn,
And force their passage to the salt-sea tides!
Was the aim frustrated by force or guile,
When giants scoop'd from out the rocky ground
—Tier under tier—this semicirque profound?
(Giants—the same who built in Erin's isle
That Causeway with incomparable toil!)
O, had this vast theatric structure wound
With finish'd sweep into a perfect round,
No mightier work had gain'd the plausive smile
Of all-beholding Phoebus! But, alas,
Vain earth!—false world! Foundations must be laid
In Heav'n; for, mid the wreck of is and was,
Things incomplete and purposes betrayed
Make sadder transits o'er truth's mystic glass
Than noblest objects utterly decayed.
COMPOSED DURING ONE OF THE MOST AWFUL OF THE
LATE STORMS, FEB. 1819.
One who was suffering tumult in his soul
Yet fail'd to seek the sure relief of prayer—
Went forth—his course surrendering to the care
Of the fierce wind, while mid-day lightnings prowl
Insidiously—untimely thunders growl,—
While trees, dim-seen, in frenzied numbers tear
The lingering remnant of their yellow hair,—
And shivering wolves, surpris'd with darkness, howl
As if the sun were not;—he lifted high
His head—and in a moment did appear
Large space, mid dreadful clouds, of purest sky,
An azure orb—shield of Tranquillity,
Invisible unlook'd-for minister
Of providential goodness ever nigh!
Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode,
- Waters (as Mr. Westall informs us in the letter-press prefixed to his admirable views) are invariably found to flow through these caverns.