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,
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.
While Hope so jocund singeth
And with her plumes the gray beard's arrow wingeth,
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
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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