Monody, Written At Matlock

William Lisle Bowles 1762 (King's Sutton) – 1850

Matlock! amid thy hoary-hanging views,
Thy glens that smile sequestered, and thy nooks
Which yon forsaken crag all dark o'erlooks;
Once more I court the long neglected Muse,
As erst when by the mossy brink and falls
Of solitary Wainsbeck, or the side
Of Clysdale's cliffs, where first her voice she tried,
I strayed a pensive boy. Since then, the thralls
That wait life's upland road have chilled her breast,
And much, as much they might, her wing depressed.
Wan Indolence, resigned, her deadening hand
Laid on her heart, and Fancy her cold wand
Dropped at the frown of fortune; yet once more
I call her, and once more her converse sweet,
'Mid the still limits of this wild retreat,
I woo;--if yet delightful as of yore
My heart she may revisit, nor deny
The soothing aid of some sweet melody!
I hail the rugged scene that bursts around;
I mark the wreathed roots, the saplings gray,
That bend o'er the dark Derwent's wandering way;
I mark its stream with peace-persuading sound,
That steals beneath the fading foliage pale,
Or, at the foot of frowning crags upreared,
Complains like one forsaken and unheard.
To me, it seems to tell the pensive tale
Of spring-time, and the summer days all flown;
And while sad autumn's voice ev'n now I hear
Along the umbrage of the high-wood moan,
At intervals, whose shivering leaves fall sere;
Whilst o'er the group of pendant groves I view
The slowly-spreading tints of pining hue,
I think of poor Humanity's brief day,
How fast its blossoms fade, its summers speed away!
When first young Hope, a golden-tressed boy,
Most musical his early madrigal
Sings to the whispering waters as they fall,
Breathing fresh airs of fragrance and of joy,
The wild woods gently wave, the morning sheds
Her rising radiance on the mountain heads,
Strewed with green isles appears old ocean's reign,
And seen at distance rays of resting light
Silver the farthest promontory's height:
Then hushed is the long murmur of the main,
Whilst silent o'er the slowly-crisping tides,
Bound to some beaming spot, the bark of pleasure glides.
Alas! the scenes that smile in light arrayed
But catch the sense, and then in darkness fade.
We, poor adventurers, of peace bereft,
Look back on the green hills that late we left,
Or turn, with beating breast and anxious eye,
To some faint hope that glimmering meets our sight
(Like the lone watch-tower in the storm of night),
Then on the dismal waste are driv'n despairing by!
Meantime, amid the landscape cold and mute,
Hope, sweet enchanter, sighing drops his lute:
So sad decay and mortal change succeeds,
And o'er the silent scene Time, like a giant, speeds!
Yet the bleak cliffs that lift their heads so high
(Around whose beetling crags, with ceaseless coil,
And still-returning flight, the ravens toil)
Heed not the changeful seasons as they fly,
Nor spring, nor autumn: they their hoary brow
Uprear, and ages past, as in this now,
The same deep trenches unsubdued have worn,
The same majestic frown, and looks of lofty scorn.
So Fortitude, a mailed warrior old,
Appears; he lifts his scar-intrenched crest;
The tempest gathers round his dauntless breast;
He hears far off the storm of havoc rolled;
The feeble fall around: their sound is past;
Their sun is set, their place no more is known;
Like the wan leaves before the winter's blast
They perish:--He, unshaken and alone
Remains, his brow a sterner shade assumes,
By age ennobled, whilst the hurricane,
That raves resistless o'er the ravaged plain,
But shakes unfelt his helmet's quivering plume.
And so yon sovereign of the scene I mark
Above the woods rear his majestic head,
That soon all shattered at his feet shall shed
Their short-lived beauties: he the winter dark
Regardless, and the wasteful time that flies,
Rejoicing in his lonely might, defies.
Thee, wandering in the deep and craggy dell,
Sequestered stream, with other thoughts I view:
Thou dost in solitude thy course pursue,
As thou hadst bid life's busy scenes farewell,
Yet making still such music as might cheer
The weary passenger that journeys near.
Such are the songs of Peace in Virtue's shade;
Unheard of Folly, or the vacant train
That pipe and dance upon the noontide plain,
Till in the dust together they are laid!
But not unheard of Him, who sits sublime
Above the clouds of this tempestuous clime,
Its stir and strife; to whom more grateful rise
The humble incense, and the still small voice
Of those that on their pensive way rejoice,
Than shouts of thousands echoing to the skies;
Than songs of
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Lisle Bowles

William Lisle Bowles was an English poet and critic In 1783 he won the chancellors prize for Latin verse In 1789 he published in a small quarto volume Fourteen Sonnets which were received with extraordinary favour not only by the general public but by such men as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wordsworth The Sonnets even in form were a revival a return to an older and purer poetic style and by their grace of expression melodious versification tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry more…

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