A Noon-Day Dream

'Twas noontide; and breathless beneath the hot ray
The far-winding vales of the wilderness lay:
By the Koonap's lone brink, with the cool shadow o'er me,
I slept—and a Dream spread its visions before me.

Methought, among scenes which I loved when a boy
I was walking again with fresh feelings of joy;
For my soul, like the landscape, seemed softened and changed
To what it was once—when in childhood I ranged
Through Cheviot's valleys, to pluck the bright flowers,
Or chase with young rapture the birds through the bowers.
—On my dreaming ear waters were murmuring still,
But the wild foreign river had shrunk to a rill;
And Káha's dark mountains had melted away;
And the brown thorny desert, where antelopes stray,
Had become a sweet Glen, where the young lambs were racing,
And yellow-haired children the butterflies chasing;
And the meadows were gemmed with the primrose and gowan,
And the ferny braes fringed with the hazel and rowan;
The foxglove looked out from the osiers dank,
And the wild-thyme and violet breathed from the bank.
—And green fairy nooks 'mid the landscape were seen,
Half hid by the grey rocks that high o'er them lean,
Where the light birch, above, its loose tresses was waving;
And the willow, below, in the blue stream was laving
Its silvery garlands of soft downy buds;
And the throstle sang blithe to his mate in the woods;

And the brood of the wild-duck plashed over the pool,
New-fledged from their nest among well-cresses cool.
—And trouts from the limpid stream lightly were springing,
And larks in the fleckered sky cheerily singing;
And down in the copsewood the cushat was cooing;
And o'er the brown moorland the huntsman hallooing;
The grey-plaided shepherd piped high on the fell;
And the milk-maiden sang as she sat by the well:
With the lowing of herds from the broom-blossomed lea;
The cuckoo's soft note from the old beechen-tree;
The waving of woods in the health-breathing gale;
The dash of the mill-wheel afar down the dale.
—All these were around me:—and with them there came
Sweet voices that called me aloud by my name,—
And looks of affection from innocent eyes,—
And light-hearted laughter,—and shrill joyous cries:
And I saw the mild features of all that were there,
Unaltered by years, and unclouded by care!

Then it seemed as that Scene slowly melted away,
Like the bright cloud of morn in a midsummer's day;
And I lost the blithe sounds of the Pastoral Glen,
'Mid the rattle of wheels and loud murmurs of men.
—I stood on a mount, and saw, towering around,
A City with ramparts and palaces crowned;
Where poets and sages were passing along,
And statesmen and heroes—a glorious throng!
I heard from on high the loud heralds proclaim
With silver-toned voice each illustrious name;
I marked from afar their mild dignified mien,
And their aspect, benevolent, simple, serene;
And lingered, in heart-greeting silence to gaze
On the faces of some I had loved in their lays.
—But suddenly out-burst a boisterous crowd
Of maskers and rhapsodists, railing aloud,
And scattering brands in their frantic mirth,
As if lewd love of mischief had called them forth:
And the burthen and boast of their scurrilous song
Was to scoff at the Right and applaud the Wrong.
—I looked on the scene till my heart grew sad—
Then turned me away from the uproar mad!

The visionary Pageant again seemed to change,
And a land lay before me of aspect strange—
Where the tumult of voices disturbed me no more,
But I heard the hoarse surf dashing wild on the shore,
As bewildered I stood. Yet I was not alone;
For still amid crowds my dream passed on:
Mid crowds—but silent, and sad as death;
For it seemed as if each man held his breath,
And cowered with his body, in abject fear,
Like a caitiff beneath the proud conqueror's spear.
—Then I turned, and lifted my wondering eye,
And beheld a grim Spectre enthroned on high,
And his name it was written—T YRANNY !
—I gazed, and beheld how his scourge-bearing hand
Was high outstretched o'er the shuddering land;
And his eyes, that like those of the basilisk shone,
Blasted whatever they glared upon.
—Yet crowds of votaries, kneeling around,
Were worshipping him with a whispering sound;
And, ever and anon, his priests on high
Hymned forth his praises to the sky.
—Full many a race lay mingled there:
Swart Afric's tribes with their woolly hair,
The enslaved Madagass, the dejected Malay,
And degenerate Belgian baser than they,
Prone and promiscuous round him lay.
As I drew more near 'mid the suppliant train,
My heart swelled high with grief and pain,
Proud England's children there to view,
Commingled with that crouching crew;
And I marvelled much that no manly hand
Was raised to redeem the desolate land;
For I saw that the Monster's enchanted mould,
Though braced with iron and bound with gold,
Was formed but of vile and crumbling dust,
Unfit to withstand the Avenger's thrust.
—While thus I was musing, a crashing stroke,
As when the red lightning shivers the rock,
Fell! . . . . . . And I started and awoke!

Awaking, I heard but the wild river sounding;
I gazed, but saw only the klip-springer bounding,
And the eagle of Winterberg, high o'er the woods,
Sailing supreme 'mid his solitudes.
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