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Poem by Thomas Noon Talfourd


Written at the Needles Hotel, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight

HOW simple in their grandeur are the forms
That constitute this picture! Nature grants
Scarce more than sternest cynic might desire,
Earth, sea, and sky, and hardly lends to each
Variety of color; yet the soul
Asks nothing fairer than the scene it grasps
And makes its own forever! From the gate
Of this home-featured Inn, which nestling cleaves
To its own shelf among the downs, begirt
With trees which lift no branches to defy
The fury of the storm, but crouch in love
Round the low snow-white walls whence they receive
More shelter than they lend,the heart-soothed guest
Views a furze-dotted common, on each side
Wreathed into waving eminences, clothed
Above the furze with scanty green, in front
Indented sharply to admit the sea,
Spread thence in softest blue,to which a gorge
Sinking within the valleys deepening green
Invites by grassy path; the Eastern down
Swelling with pride into the waters, shows
Its sward-tipped precipice of radiant white,
And claims the dazzling peak beneath its brow
Part of its ancient bulk, which hints the strength
Of those famed pinnacles that still withstand
The conquering waves, as fortresses maintained
By death-devoted troops, hold out awhile
After the game of war is lost, to prove
The virtue of the conquered.Here are scarce
Four colors for the painter; yet the charm
Which permanence, mid worldly change, confers,
Is felt, if ever, here; for he who loves
To bid this scene refresh his inward eye
When far away, may feel it keeping still
The very aspect that it wore for him,
Scarce changed by Time or Season: Autumn finds
Scant boughs on which the lustre of decay
May tremble fondly; Storms may rage in vain
Above the clumps of sturdy furze, which stand
The Forest of the Fairies; Twilight gray
Finds in the landscapes stern and simple forms
Naught to conceal; the Moon, although she cast
Upon the element she sways a track
Like that which slanted through young Jacobs sleep
From heaven to earth, and fluttered at the soul
Of Shadows mighty Painter, who thence drew
Hints of a glory beyond shape, reveals
The clear-cut framework of the sea and downs
Shelving to gloom, as unperplexed with threads
Of pallid light, as when the summers noon
Bathes them in sunshine; and the giant cliffs
Scarce veiling more their lines of flint that run
Like veins of moveless blue through their bleak sides,
In moonlight than in day, shall tower as now
(Save when some mosss slender stain shall break
Into the samphires yellow in mid-air,
To tempt some trembling life), until the eyes
Which gaze in childhood on them shall be dim.
  Yet deem not that these sober forms are all
That Nature here provides, although she frames
These in one lasting picture for the heart.
Within the foldings of the coast she breathes
Hues of fantastic beauty. Thread the gorge,
And, turning on the beach, while the low sea,
Spread out in mirrored gentleness, allows
A path along the curving edge, behold
Such dazzling glory of prismatic tints
Flung oer the lofty crescent, as assures
The orient gardens where Aladdin plucked
Jewels for fruit no fable,as if earth,
Provoked to emulate the rainbows gauds
In lasting mould, had snatched its floating hues
And fixed them here; for never oer the bay
Flew a celestial arch of brighter grace
Than the gay coast exhibits; here the cliff
Flaunts in a brighter yellow than the stream
Of Tiber wafted; then with softer shades
Declines to pearly white, which blushes soon
With pink as delicate as Autumns rose
Wears on its scattering leaves; anon the shore
Recedes into a fane-like dell, where stained
With black, as if with sable tapestry hung,
Light pinnacles rise taper; further yet
Swells out in solemn mass a dusky veil
Of purple crimson,while bright streaks of red
Start out in gleam-like tint, to tell of veins
Which the slow-winning sea, in distant times,
Shall bare to unborn gazers.
                        If this scene
Grow too fantastic for thy pensive thought,
Climb either swelling down, and gaze with joy
On the blue ocean, poured around the heights,
As it embraced the wonders of that shield
Which the vowed Friend of slain Patroclus wore,
To grace his fated valor; nor disdain
The quiet of the vale, though not endowed
With such luxurious beauty as the coast
Of Undercliff embosoms;mid those lines
Of scanty foliage, thoughtful lanes and paths,
And cottage roofs, find shelter; the blue stream,
That with its brief vein almost threads the isle,
Flows blest with two gray towers, beneath whose shade
The village life sleeps trustfully,whose rites
Touch the old weather-hardened fishers heart
With childlike softness, and shall teach the boy
Who kneels, a sturdy grandson, at his side,
When his frail boat amidst the breakers pants,
To cast the anchor of a Christian hope
In an unrippled haven. Then rejoice,
That in remotest point of this sweet isle,
Which with fond mimicry combines each shape
Of the Great Land that, by the ancient bond
(Sea-parted once, and sea-united now),
Binds her in unity,a Spirit breathes
On cliff and tower and valley, by the side
Of cottage-fire, and the low grass-grown grave,
Of home on English earth, and home in heaven!

Thomas Noon Talfourd

Thomas Noon Talfourd's other poems:
  1. Evening Service
  2. To Robert Browning
  3. Reading

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • John Keats Lines ("UNFELT unheard, unseen")
  • William Wordsworth Lines ("STRANGER! this hillock of misshapen stones")
  • Samuel Coleridge Lines ("RICHER than miser oer his countless hoards")
  • Thomas Hood Lines ("Let Us Make a Leap, My Dear")
  • Thomas Hardy Lines ("Before we part to alien thoughts and aims")
  • Samuel Johnson Lines ("Wheresoe'er I turn my view") 1777
  • Francis Thompson Lines ("O tree of many branches! One thou hast")
  • Robert Burns Lines ("I MURDER hate by field or flood") 1790
  • Letitia Landon Lines ("She kneels by the grave where her lover sleeps")
  • Oliver Holmes Lines ("COME back to your mother, ye children, for shame")
  • Joseph Drake Lines ("Day gradual fades, in evening gray")
  • Ebenezer Elliott Lines ("FROM Shirecliffe, oer a silent sea of trees")
  • George Morris Lines ("O Love! the mischief thou hast done!")
  • John Lockhart Lines ("When youthful faith hath fled")
  • John Reade Lines ("I KNELT down as I poured my spirit forth by that gray gate")

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