Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Hillside Cot
By William Ellery Channing (1818–1901)
 
AND here the hermit sat, and told his beads,
And stroked his flowing locks, red as the fire,
Summed up his tale of moon and sun and star:
“How blest are we,” he deemed, “who so comprise
The essence of the whole, and of ourselves,        5
As in a Venice flask of lucent shape,
Ornate of gilt Arabic, and inscribed
With Suras from Time’s Koran, live and pray,
More than half grateful for the glittering prize,
Human existence! If I note my powers,        10
So poor and frail a toy, the insect’s prey,
Itched by a berry, festered by a plum,
The very air infecting my thin frame
With its malarial trick, whom every day
Rushes upon and hustles to the grave,        15
Yet raised by the great love that broods o’er all
Responsive, to a height beyond all thought.”
He ended as the nightly prayer and fast
Summoned him inward. But I sat and heard
The night-hawks rip the air above my head,        20
Till midnight, o’er the warm, dry, dewless rocks;
And saw the blazing dog-star droop his fire,
And the low comet, trailing to the south,
Bend his reverted gaze, and leave us free.
*        *        *        *        *
      “Here let us live, and spend away our lives,”        25
Said once Fortunio, “while below, absorbed,
The riotous careering race of man,
Intent on gain or war, pour out their news.
Let us bring in a chosen company,
Like that the noblest of our beauteous maids        30
Might lead,—unequalled Margaret, herself
The summary of good for all our state;
Composedly thoughtful, genial, yet reserved,
Pure as the wells that dot the ravine’s bed,
And lofty as the stars that pierce her skies.        35
Here shall she reign triumphant, and preside
With gentle prudence o’er the camp’s wild mood,
Summoning forth much order from what else
Surely must prove unsound.”
 
 
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