Richard Monckton Milnes (1809-1885)

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Feelings Excited by some Military Manoeuvres at Verona

What is the lesson I have brought away
After the moment's palpitating glee?
What has this pomp of men, this strong array
Of thousands and ten thousands been to me?
Did I find nothing but the vision gay,
The mere phenomenon that all could see?
Did I feel nothing but the brute display
Of power,--the show of centred energy?

Trembling and humbled, I was taught how hard
It is for our strait minds at once to scan
The might of banded numbers, and regard
The individual soul, the living man;
To use mechanic multitudes, and yet
Our common human feelings not forget!

On a Scene in Tuscany

What good were it to dim the pleasure glow
That lights thy cheek, fair girl, in scenes like these,
By shameful facts and piteous histories?
While we enjoy, what matters what we know?
What tender love-sick looks on us below
Those mountains cast! how courteously the trees
Raise up their branching heads in chalices
For the thick vine to fill and overflow!

This nature is like thee, all-bright, all-mild;
If then some self-wise man should say, that here
Hate, sin, and death held rule for many a year,
That of this kindliest earth there's not a rood
But has been saturate with brother's blood,
Believe him not, believe him not, my child.

Impression on Returning to England

In just accordance with attentive sight,
Through airy space and round our planet ball,
The inorganic world is voiced with light,
And colours are the words it speaks withal.
Thus has my eye had glad experience
Of that most perfect utterance and clear tone
With which all visible things address the sense,
In lands retiring from the northern zone.

But oh! in what poor language, faintly caught,
Do the old features of my England greet
Her stranger-son--how powerless, how unmeet
For the free vision Italy had taught
What to expect from nature; I must scan
Her face, I fear, no more, and look alone to man.

To Charles Lamb

Thee I would think one of the many wise,
Who in Eliza's time sat eminent,
To our now world, as Purgatory, sent
To teach us what true English poets prize.
Pasquillant froth and foreign galliardize
Are none of thine; but, when of gay intent,
Thou usest staid old English merriment,
Mannerly mirth, which no one dare despise.

The scoffs and girds of our poor critic rout
Must move thy pity, as amidst their mime,
Monk of truth's order, from thy memories
Thou dost updraw sublime simplicities,
Grand thoughts that never can be wearied out,
Showing the unreality of time.

On Revisiting Cambridge

I have a debt of my heart's own to thee,
School of my soul, old lime and cloister shade,
Which I, strange creditor, should grieve to see
Fully acquitted and exactly paid.
The first ripe taste of manhood's best delights,
Knowledge imbibed, while mind and heart agree,
In sweet belated talk on winter nights,
With friends whom growing time keeps dear to me,--

Such things I owe thee, and not only these:
I owe thee the far beaconing memories
Of the young dead, who, having crossed the tide
Of life where it was narrow, deep, and clear,
Now cast their brightness from the further side
On the dark-flowing hours I breast in fear.

Indirect Beauty

Poet and artist think and care not whether
Things hold in truth the glory that they show;
Beauty and beauteous thoughts will go together,
While to one scene a thousand memories flow;
Long spirit-strains from one wild note shall grow,
Magnificent tempests from one cloudy feather,
From one bright ray the sunset's perfect glow,
Hymettian thyme-beds from one plant of heather.

Into one scene a thousand memories flow!
Held we but this reflection at our hearts,
And beauty never past without regard,
No place would lack illuminated parts,
And inward grace with outer mingle so,
That nature should be never dark or hard.