Address to Silence

Silence! calm, venerable majesty:
Guardian of contemplation and of love.
Thy voice, in marvellous words of nature, speaks
Not to the ear, but to the eye of man;
Thy placid mien restores the ruffled heath
Or shattered forests, where the storm is past;
And calms the ocean wave without a shore.
Sometimes, when not a single leaf is waved;
When no mild breeze sweeps o'er the smiling vale;
When, in the lake, each undulation sleeps;
When heaven is full serene; and grove, and hill,
And mother earth are stript of herb and flower
By winter's hand, laying in deep repose
Whole islands; heavenly musing silence reigns.
Round Iceland's coast the frozen sea its base,
Its top the sky, lit by the polar star,
Thy throne is fixt. Thy palace, now and then,
Is to the centre shook, by falling rocks
Of glittering ice; or the enormous whale;
Or by the roar of Hecla's flaming mouth
Loud thundering o'er thy widely echoing realms.

Silence! I would not visit thy domains,
In north and south, for the most precious ore,
The gold and gems which Afric, Asia hold;
Or rivers wash into the eastern main:
No: Not for the sweet beauties of our earth;
Nor the proud glories of the light of day.
Sceptres and thrones, imperial crowns and stars,
Fade in the shadowy mansions of the dead,
Where Kings, lords, slaves, without distinction lie
Beneath thy sway.

Thy peaceful sceptre scorns
The triumphs of the thronged metropolis,
And exclamations of the multitude.
Floods; cataracts o'er precipices huge;
The mighty sounds of Ganges and of Nile,
Have not a charm for thee; nor thunder's voice,
Nor dire convulsions, which the mountains shake.
Far, far remote from noise, thy presence dwells.
The sleeping infant, and his mother's eye;
The smiling picture, and the breathless bust;
The rest of ages, and the mourner's face;
The mould'ring abbey, and the quiet grave;
The lonely tower on a desart rock;
The shining valley, with the full orbed moon,
Are thy delights: With them thou art well pleased.
With thee 'tis peace: peace now; peace evermore!

Eternity of calmness is thy joy;
Immensity of space is thine abode;
The rolling planets own thy sacred power;
Our little years are moments of thy life;
Our little world is lost amid thy spheres.

The harmony serene of mind is thine;
And human thought, that wings its boundless way
From earth to heaven, is led through air by thee;
With solitude and thee our God resides!
Hush winds! be still: Cease flood! thy tedious voice,
The monotonous music of thy streams;
Or I must leave you, and with silence stray
To the deep forest, or the deeper grave,
Where neither winds nor waves disturb repose.

Yet, silence! let me once review the haunts
Of men. Once more let me enjoy the scene
Of social hearts; and view sweet friendship's smiles,
Ere I be seen no more!
Then have thy sway,
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