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1. Introduction

Romance, who loves to nod and sing, 

With drowsy head and folded wing, 

Among the green leaves as they shake 

Far down within some shadowy lake, 

To me a painted paroquet 

Hath been — a most familiar bird — 

Taught me my alphabet to say — 

To lisp my very earliest word 

While in the wild-wood I did lie 

A child — with a most knowing eye. 


Succeeding years, too wild for song, 

Then roll’d like tropic storms along, 

Where, tho’ the garish lights that fly 

Dying along the troubled sky, 

Lay bare, thro’ vistas thunder-riven, 

The blackness of the general Heaven, 

That very blackness yet doth fling 

Light on the lightning’s silver wing. 


For, being an idle boy lang syne, 

Who read Anacreon, and drank wine, 

I early found Anacreon rhymes 

Were almost passionate sometimes — 

And by strange alchemy of brain 

His pleasures always turn’d to pain — 

His naivete to wild desire — 

His wit to love — his wine to fire — 

And so, being young and dipt in folly 

I fell in love with melancholy, 

And used to throw my earthly rest 

And quiet all away in jest — 

I could not love except where Death 

Was mingling his with Beauty’s breath — 

Or Hymen, Time, and Destiny 

Were stalking between her and me. 


O, then the eternal Condor years 

So shook the very Heavens on high, 

With tumult as they thunder’d by; 

I had no time for idle cares, 

Thro’ gazing on the unquiet sky! 

Or if an hour with calmer wing 

Its down did on my spirit fling, 

That little hour with lyre and rhyme 

To while away — forbidden thing! 

My heart half fear’d to be a crime 

Unless it trembled with the string. 


But now my soul hath too much room — 

Gone are the glory and the gloom — 

The black hath mellow’d into grey, 

And all the fires are fading away. 


My draught of passion hath been deep — 

I revell’d, and I now would sleep — 

And after-drunkenness of soul 

Succeeds the glories of the bowl — 

An idle longing night and day 

To dream my very life away. 


But dreams — of those who dream as I, 

Aspiringly, are damned, and die: 

Yet should I swear I mean alone, 

By notes so very shrilly blown, 

To break upon Time’s monotone, 

While yet my vapid joy and grief 

Are tintless of the yellow leaf — 

Why not an imp the greybeard hath, 

And even the greybeard will o’erlook 

Connivingly my dreaming-book. 


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