Ode To Beauty

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Who gave thee, O Beauty!
The keys of this breast,
Too credulous lover
Of blest and unblest?
Say when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old;
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain
False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born we are melting
Into nature again.
Lavish, lavish promiser,
Nigh persuading gods to err,
Guest of million painted forms
Which in turn thy glory warms,
The frailest leaf, the mossy bark,
The acorn’s cup, the raindrop’s arc,
The swinging spider’s silver line,
The ruby of the drop of wine,
The shining pebble of the pond,
Thou inscribest with a bond
In thy momentary play
Would bankrupt Nature to repay.

Ah! what avails it
To hide or to shun
Whom the Infinite One
Hath granted his throne?
The heaven high over
Is the deep’s lover,
The sun and sea
Informed by thee,
Before me run,
And draw me on,
Yet fly me still,
As Fate refuses
To me the heart Fate for me chooses,
Is it that my opulent soul
Was mingled from the generous whole,
Sea valleys and the deep of skies
Furnished several supplies,
And the sands whereof I’m made
Draw me to them self-betrayed?
I turn the proud portfolios
Which hold the grand designs
Of Salvator, of Guercino,
And Piranesi’s lines.
I hear the lofty P├Žans
Of the masters of the shell,
Who heard the starry music,
And recount the numbers well:
Olympian bards who sung
Divine Ideas below,
Which always find us young,
And always keep us so.
Oft in streets or humblest places
I detect far wandered graces,
Which from Eden wide astray
In lowly homes have lost their way.

Thee gliding through the sea of form,
Like the lightning through the storm,
Somewhat not to be possessed,
Somewhat not to be caressed,
No feet so fleet could ever find,
No perfect form could ever bind.
Thou eternal fugitive
Hovering over all that live,
Quick and skilful to inspire
Sweet extravagant desire,
Starry space and lily bell
Filling with thy roseate smell,
Wilt not give the lips to taste
Of the nectar which thou hast.

All that’s good and great with thee
Stands in deep conspiracy.
Thou hast bribed the dark and lonely
To report thy features only,
And the cold and purple morning
Itself with thoughts of thee adorning,
The leafy dell, the city mart,
Equal trophies of thine art,
E’en the flowing azure air
Thou hast touched for my despair,
And if I languish into dreams,
Again I meet the ardent beams.
Queen of things! I dare not die
In Being’s deeps past ear and eye,
Lest there I find the same deceiver,
And be the sport of Fate forever.
Dread power, but dear! if God thou be,
Unmake me quite, or give thyself to me.

 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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14th January – On This Day In History

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Born:

83 BC Mark Anthony (Roman general and politician)

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Died:

1898 Lewis Carroll (real name Reverend Charles L Dodgson – author of Alice In Wonderland)

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On This Day:

1690 The clarinet is invented

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Have a good Thursday, 14th January

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A Forest Hymn

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The groves were God’s first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them,—ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,
Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication. For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences,
Which, from the stilly twilight of the place,
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless power
And inaccessible majesty. Ah, why
Should we, in the world’s riper years, neglect
God’s ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs,
That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least,
Here, in the shadow of this aged wood,
Offer one hymn—thrice happy, if it find
Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns, thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun,
Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze,
And shot towards heaven. The century-living crow,
Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches, till, at last, they stood,
As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark,
Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults,
These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride
Report not. No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works. But thou art here—thou fill’st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summit of these trees
In music; thou art in the cooler breath
That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground,
The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;—Nature, here,
In the tranquility that thou dost love,
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around,
From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs,
Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades,
Of thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace
Are here to speak of thee. This mighty oak—
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated—not a prince,
In all that proud old world beyond the deep,
E’er wore his crown as lofty as he
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower
With scented breath, and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould,
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this wide universe.

My heart is awed within me when I think
Of the great miracle that still goes on,
In silence, round me—the perpetual work
Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed
Forever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die—but see again,
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses—-ever gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors
Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost
One of earth’s charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch enemy Death—yea, seats himself
Upon the tyrant’s throne—the sepulchre,
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.

There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
The generation born with them, nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks
Around them;—and there have been holy men
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Retire, and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,
The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink
And tremble and are still. Oh, God! when thou
Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill,
With all the waters of the firmament,
The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the village; when, at thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities—who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power,
His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by?
Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate,
In these calm shades, thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of the works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.

 

– William Cullen Bryant

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13th January – On This Day In History

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Born:

1966 Patrick Dempsey (actor)

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Died:

1941 James Joyce (author)

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On This Day:

1794 US Congress changes the flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes

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Have a good Wednesday, 13th January

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I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

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I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

 

– William Wordsworth

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12th January – On This Day In History

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Born:

1737 John Hancock (American patriot and first signatory of the Declaration of Independence)

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Died:

1976 Agatha Christie (mystery writer)

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On This Day:

1970 Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight

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Have a good Tuesday, 12th January

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She Walks In Beauty

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She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

 

– Gordon Byron

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