Apology for Gebir

Sixty the years since Fidler bore
My grouse bag up the Bala moor,
Above the lake, along the lea
Where gleams the darkly yellow Dee;
Thro' crags, o'er cliffs, I carried there
My verses with paternal care,
But left them, and went home again,
To wing the birds upon the plain.
With heavier luggage half-forgot,
For many months they followed not.
When over Tawey's sands they came,
Brighter flew up my winter flame;
And each old cricket sang alert
With joy that they had come unhurt.
Gebir! men shook their heads in doubt
If we were sane: few made us out,
Beside one stranger; in his heart
We after held no niggard part.
The songs of every age he knew,
But only sang the pure and true.
Poet he was, yet was his smile
Without a tinge of gall or guile.
Such lived, 'tis said, in ages past;
Who knows if Southey was the last?
Dapper, who may perhaps have seen
My name in some late magazine,
Among a dozen or a score
Which interest wise people more,
Wonders if I can be the same
To whom poor Southey augured fame;
Erring as usual, in his choice
Of one who mocks the public voice,
And fancies two or three are worth
Far more than all the rest on earth.
Dapper, in tones benign and clear
Tells those who treasure all they hear,
" Landor would have done better far,
Had he observed the northern star;
Or Bloomfield might have shown the way
To one who always goes astray;
He might have tried his pen upon
The living, not the dead and gone.
Are turban'd youths and muffled belles
Extinct along the Dardanelles?
Is there no scimeter, no axe?
Daggers and bow-strings, mutes and sacks,
Are they all swept away for ever
From that sky-blue resplendent river?
Do heroes of old times surpass
Cardigan, Somerset, Dundas?
Do the Sigaean mounds inclose
More corses than Death swept from those?"
No, no: but let me ask in turn,
Whether, whene'er Corinthian urn,
With ivied Faun upon the rim
Invites, I may not gaze on him?
I love all beauty: I can go
At times from Gainsboro' to Watteau;
Never from Titian's Alpine scene
To Morland's stye, however clean.
Even after Milton's thorough-bass
I bear the rhymes of Hudibras,
And find more solid wisdom there
Than pads professor's easy chair:
But never sit I quiet long
Where broidered cassock floats round Young;
Whose pungent essences perfume
And quirk and quibble trim the tomb;
Who thinks the holy bread too plain,
And in the chalice pours champaign.
I love old places and their climes,
Nor quit the syrinx for the chimes.
Manners have changed; but hearts are yet
The same, and will be while they beat.
Ye blame not those who wander o'er
Our earth's remotest wildest shore,
Nor scoff at seeking what is hid
Within one-chambered pyramid;
Let me then, with my coat untorn
By your acacia's crooked thorn,
Follow from Gades to the coast
Of Egypt, men thro' ages lost.
Firm was my step on rocky steeps;
Others slipt down loose sandhill heaps.
I knew where hidden fountains lay;
Hoarse was their thirsty camels' bray;
And presently fresh droves had past
The beasts expiring on the waste.
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