Hunt is Up, The. A Meditation

A MEDITATION .

The hunt is up —

The merry woodland shout,

That rung these echoing glades about

An hour agone,

Hath swept beyond the eastern hills,

Where, pale and lone,

The moon her mystic circle fills;

Awhile across her slowly reddening disk

The dusky larch,

As if to pierce the blue o'erhanging arch,

Lifts its tall obelisk.

And now from thicket dark,

And now from mist-wreathed river

The fire-fly's spark

Will fitful quiver,

And bubbles round the lily's cup

From lurking trout come coursing up,

Where stoops the wading fawn to drink:

While scared by step so near,

Uprising from the sedgy brink

The clanging bittern's cry will sink

Upon the hunter's ear;

Who, startled from his early sleep,

Lists for some sound approaching nigher —

Half-dreaming, lists — then turns to heap

Another fagot on his fire,

And then again, in dreams renewed,

Pursues his quarry through the wood.

And thus upon my dreaming youth,

When boyhood's gambols pleased no more,

And young Romance, in guise of Truth,

Usurped the heart all theirs before;

Thus broke Ambition's trumpet-note

On visions wild,

Yet blithesome as this river

On which the smiling moonbeams float

That thus have there for ages smiled,

And will thus smile for ever.

And now no more the fresh green-wood,

The forest's fretted aisles,

And leafy domes above them bent,

And solitude

So eloquent!

Mocking the varied skill y'-blent

In Art's most gorgeous piles —

No more can soothe my soul to sleep

Than they can awe the sounds that sweep

To hunter's horn and merriment

Their verdant passes through,

When fresh the dun-deer leaves his scent

Upon the morning dew.

The game's afoot! — and let the chase

Lead on, whate'er my destiny —

Though Fate her funeral drum may brace

Full soon for me!

And wave death's pageant o'er me —

Yet now the new and untried world

Like maiden banner first unfurled,

Is glancing bright before me!

The quarry soars! and mine is now the sky,

Where, " at what bird I please, my hawk shall fly! "

Yet something whispers through the wood —

A voice like that perchance

Which taught the hunter of Egeria's grove

To tame the Roman's dominating mood,

And lower, for awhile, his conquering lance

Before the images of Law and Love —

Some mystic voice that ever since hath dwelt

Along with Echo in her dim retreat,

A voice whose influence all, at times, have felt

By wood or glen, or where on silver strand

The clasping waves of Ocean's belt

Will clashing meet

Around the land:

It whispers me that soon — too soon

The pulses which now beat so high,

Impatient with the world to cope,

Will, like the hues of autumn sky,

Be changed and fallen ere life's noon

Should tame its morning hope.

Yet why,

While Hope so jocund singeth

And with her plumes the gray beard's arrow wingeth,

Should I

Think only of the barb it bringeth?

Though every dream deceive

That to my youth is dearest,

Until my heart they leave

Like forest leaf when searest —

Yet still, mid forest leaves

Where now

Its tissue thus my idle fancy weaves,

Still with heart new-blossoming

While leaves, and buds, and wild flowers spring,

At Nature's shrine I'll bow;

Nor seek in vain that truth in her

She keeps for her idolater.

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