Love of Study

And wherefore does the student trim his lamp,
And watch his lonely taper, when the stars
Are holding their high festival in heaven,
And worshipping around the midnight throne?
And wherefore does he spend so patiently,
In deep and voiceless thought, the blooming hours
Of youth and joyance, when the blood is warm,
And the heart full of buoyancy and fire?

The sun is on the waters, and the air
Breathes with a stirring energy; the plants
Expand their leaves, and swell their buds, and blow,
Wooing the eye, and stealing on the soul
With perfume and with beauty. Life awakes;
Its wings are waving, and its fins at play
Glancing from out the streamlets, and the voice
Of love and joy is warbled in the grove;
And children sport upon the springing turf,
With shouts of innocent glee, and youth is fired
With a diviner passion, and the eye
Speaks deeper meaning, and the cheek is filled,
At every tender motion of the heart,
With purer flushings; for the boundless power
That rules all living creatures now has sway;
In man refined to holiness, a flame
That purifies the heart it feeds upon:
And yet the searching spirit will not blend
With this rejoicing, these attractive charms
Of the glad season; but, at wisdom's shrine,
Will draw pure draughts from her unfathomed well,
And nurse the never-dying lamp, that burns
Brighter and brighter on, as ages roll.
He has his pleasures, — he has his reward:
For there is in the company of books,
The living souls of the departed sage,
And bard, and hero, — there is in the roll
Of eloquence and history, which speak
The deeds of early and of better days, —
In these, and in the visions that arise
Sublime in midnight musings, and array
Conceptions of the mighty and the good,
There is an elevating influence,
That snatches us awhile from earth, and lifts
The spirit, in its strong aspirings, where
Superior beings fill the court of heaven.
And thus his fancy wanders, and has talk
With high imaginings, and pictures out
Communion with the worthies of old time:
And then he listens, in his passionate dreams,
To voices in the silent gloom of night,
As of the blind Meonian, when he struck
Wonder from out his harp-strings, and rolled on
From rhapsody to rhapsody, deep sounds,
That imitate the ocean's boundless roar;
Or tones of horror, which the drama spake,
Reverberated through the hollow mask,
Like sounds which rend the sepulchres of kings,
And tell of deeds of darkness, which the grave
Would burst its marble portals to reveal;
Or his, who latest in the holy cause
Of freedom lifted to the heavens his voice,
Commanding, and beseeching, and, with all
The fervor of his spirit poured abroad,
Urging the sluggish souls of self-made slaves
To emulate their fathers, and be free;
Or those which in the still and solemn shades
Of Academus, from the wooing tongue
Of Plato, charmed the youth, the man, the sage,
Discoursing of the perfect and the pure,
The beautiful and holy, till the sound
That played around his eloquent lips became
The honey of persuasion, and was heard
As oracles amid Dodona's groves.
With eye upturned, watching the many stars,
And ear in deep attention fixed, he sits,
Communing with himself, and with the world,
The universe around him, and with all
The beings of his memory and his hopes;
Till past becomes reality, and joys,
That beckon in the future, nearer draw,
And ask fruition. — O, there is a pure,
A hallowed feeling in these midnight dreams;
They have the light of heaven around them, breathe
The odor of its sanctity, and are
Those moments taken from the sands of life,
Where guilt makes no intrusion, but they bloom
Like islands flowering on Arabia's wild.
And there is pleasure in the utterance
Of pleasant images in pleasant words,
Melting like melody into the ear,
And stealing on in one continual flow,
Unruffled and unbroken. It is joy
Ineffable to dwell upon the lines
That register our feelings, and portray,
In colors always fresh and ever new,
Emotions that were sanctified, and loved,
As something far too tender, and too pure,
For forms so frail and fading. I have sat,
In days when sensibility was young,
And the heart beat responsive to the sight,
The touch, and music of the lovely one, —
Yes, I have sat entranced, enraptured, till
The spirit would have utterance, and words
Flowed full of hope, and love, and melody,
The gushings of an overburdened heart
Drunk with enchantment, bursting freely forth,
Like fountains in the early days of spring.
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