The Man of Feeling


Why steals from my bosom the sigh?

Why fixed is my gaze on the ground?

Come, give me my pipe, and I’ll try

To banish my cares with the sound.

Erewhile were its notes of accord

With the smile of the flow’r-footed Muse;

Ah! why by its master implored

Shou’d it now the gay carrol refuse?

’Twas taught by LAVINIA’S sweet smile,

In the mirth-loving chorus to join:

Ah, me! how unweeting the while!

LAVINIA - can never be mine!

Another, more happy, the maid

By fortune is destin’d to bless -

’Tho’ the hope has forsook that betray’d,

Yet why should I love her the less?

Her beauties are bright as the morn,

With rapture I counted them o’er;

Such virtues these beauties adorn,

I knew her, and prais’d them no more.

I term’d her no goddess of love,

I call’d not her beauty divine:

These far other passions may prove,

But they could not be figures of mine.

It ne’er was apparel’d with art,

On words it could never rely;

It reign’d in the throb of my heart,

It gleam’d in the glance of my eye.

Oh fool! in the circle to shine

That Fashion’s gay daughters approve,

You must speak as the fashions incline;

Alas! are there fashions in love?

Yet sure they are simple who prize

The tongue that is smooth to deceive;

Yet sure she had sense to despise,

The tinsel that folly may weave.

When I talk’d, I have seen her recline,

With an aspect so pensively sweet, -

Tho’ I spoke what the shepherds opine,

A fop were ashamed to repeat.

She is soft as the dew-drops that fall

From the lip of the sweet-scented pea;

Perhaps when she smil’d upon all,

I have thought that she smil’d upon me.

But why of her charms should I tell?

Ah me! whom her charms have undone

Yet I love the reflection too well,

The painful reflection to shun.

Ye souls of more delicate kind,

Who feast not on pleasure alone,

Who wear the soft sense of the mind,

To the sons of the world still unknown.

Ye know, tho’ I cannot express,

Why I foolishly doat on my pain;

Nor will ye believe it the less,

That I have not the skill to complain.

I lean on my hand with a sigh,

My friends the soft sadness condemn;

Yet, methinks, tho’ I cannot tell why,

I should hate to be merry like them.

When I walk’d in the pride of the dawn,

Methought all the region look’d bright:

Has sweetness forsaken the lawn?

For, methinks, I grow sad at the sight.

When I stood by the stream, I have thought

There was mirth in the gurgling soft sound;

But now ’tis a sorrowful note,

And the banks are all gloomy around!

I have laugh’d at the jest of a friend;

Now they laugh, and I know not the cause,

Tho’ I seem with my looks to attend,

How silly! I ask what it was.

They sing the sweet song of the May,

They sing it with mirth and with glee;

Sure I once thought the sonnet was gay,

But now ’tis all sadness to me.

Oh! give me the dubious light

That gleams thro’ the quivering shade;

Oh! give me the horrors of night,

By gloom and by silence array’d!

Let me walk where the soft-rising wave,

Has pictur’d the moon on its breast;

Let me walk where the new cover’d grave

Allows the pale lover to rest!

When shall I in its peaceable womb,

Be laid with my sorrows asleep?

Should LAVINIA but chance on my tomb -

I could die if I thought she would weep.

Perhaps, if the souls of the just

Revisit these mansions of care,

It may be my favourite trust

To watch o’er the fate of the fair.

Perhaps the soft thought of her breast,

With rapture more favour’d to warm;

Perhaps, if with sorrow oppress’d,

Her sorrow with patience to arm.

Then, then, in the tenderest part

May I whisper, “Poor COLIN was true,”

And mark if a heave of her heart

The thought of her COLIN pursue.