Top 20 Greatest Poems of William Lisle Bowles

These are the top twenty (20) greatest poems of William Lisle Bowles.

From A Picturesque Cottage And Grounds Belonging To J. Lemon, Esq. to Lady M—-ve (Sketches In The Exhibition, 1805).

If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!.

A Picturesque Cottage And Grounds Belonging To J. Lemon, Esq.


Stranger! mark this lovely scene,
When the evening sets serene,
And starting o’er the silent wood,
The last pale sunshine streaks the flood,
And the water gushing near
Soothes, with ceaseless drip, thine ear;
Then bid each passion sink to rest;
Should ev’n one wish rise in thy breast,
One tender wish, as now in mine,
That some such quiet spot were thine,
And thou, recalling seasons fled,
Couldst wake the slumbers of the dead,
And bring back her you loved, to share
With thee calm peace and comfort there;
Oh, check the thought, but inly pray
To HE, “who gives and takes away,”
That many years this fair domain
Its varied beauties may retain;
So when some wanderer, who has lost
His heart’s best treasure, who has crossed
In life bleak hills and passes rude,
Should gain this lovely solitude;
Delighted he may pause a while,
And when he marks the landscape smile,
Leave with its willows, ere he part,
The blessings of a softened heart.

William Lisle Bowles

On Leaving A Village In Scotland


Clysdale! as thy romantic vales I leave,
And bid farewell to each retiring hill,
Where musing memory seems to linger still,
Tracing the broad bright landscape; much I grieve
That, mingled with the toiling crowd, no more
I may return your varied views to mark,
Of rocks amid the sunshine towering dark,
Of rivers winding wild, or mountains hoar,
Or castle gleaming on the distant steep!
Yet many a look back on thy hills I cast,
And many a softened image of the past
Sadly combine, and bid remembrance keep,
To soothe me with fair scenes, and fancies rude,
When I pursue my path in solitude.

William Lisle Bowles

Thyrsis


More sweet thy pipe’s enchanting melody
Than streams that fall from broken rocks on high.
Say, by the nymphs, that guard the sacred scene,
Where lowly tamarisks shade these hillocks green,
At noontide shall we lie?
No; for o’erwearied with the forest chase,
Pan, the great hunter god, sleeps in this place.
Beneath the branching elm, while thy sad verse,
O Thyrsis! Daphnis’ sorrows shall rehearse,
Fronting the wood-nymph’s solitary seat,
Whose fountains flash amid the dark retreat;
Where the old statue leans, and brown oaks wave
Their ancient umbrage o’er the pastoral cave;
There will we rest, and thou, as erst, prolong
The sweet enchantment of the Doric song!

William Lisle Bowles

Hope


As one who, long by wasting sickness worn,
Weary has watched the lingering night, and heard
Unmoved the carol of the matin bird
Salute his lonely porch; now first at morn
Goes forth, leaving his melancholy bed;
He the green slope and level meadow views,
Delightful bathed with slow-ascending dews;
Or marks the clouds, that o’er the mountain’s head
In varying forms fantastic wander white;
Or turns his ear to every random song,
Heard the green river’s winding marge along,
The whilst each sense is steeped in still delight.
So o’er my breast young Summer’s breath I feel,
Sweet Hope! thy fragrance pure and healing incense steal!

William Lisle Bowles

Music


O harmony! thou tenderest nurse of pain,
If that thy note’s sweet magic e’er can heal
Griefs which the patient spirit oft may feel,
Oh! let me listen to thy songs again;
Till memory her fairest tints shall bring;
Hope wake with brighter eye, and listening seem
With smiles to think on some delightful dream,
That waved o’er the charmed sense its gladsome wing!
For when thou leadest all thy soothing strains
More smooth along, the silent passions meet
In one suspended transport, sad and sweet;
And nought but sorrow’s softest touch remains;
That, when the transitory charm is o’er,
Just wakes a tear, and then is felt no more.

William Lisle Bowles

Cadland, Southampton River.


If ever sea-maid, from her coral cave,
Beneath the hum of the great surge, has loved
To pass delighted from her green abode,
And, seated on a summer bank, to sing
No earthly music; in a spot like this,
The bard might feign he heard her, as she dried
Her golden hair, yet dripping from the main,
In the slant sunbeam.
So the pensive bard
Might image, warmed by this enchanting scene,
The ideal form; but though such things are not,
He who has ever felt a thought refined;
He who has wandered on the sea of life,
Forming delightful visions of a home
Of beauty and repose; he who has loved,
With filial warmth his country, will not pass
Without a look of more than tenderness
On all the scene; from where the pensile birch
Bends on the bank, amid the clustered group
Of the dark hollies; to the woody shore
That steals diminished, to the distant spires
Of Hampton, crowning the long lucid wave.
White in the sun, beneath the forest-shade,
Full shines the frequent sail, like Vanity,
As she goes onward in her glittering trim,
Amid the glances of life’s transient morn,
Calling on all to view her!
Vectis there,
That slopes its greensward to the lambent wave,
And shows through softest haze its woods and domes,
With gray St Catherine’s creeping to the sky,
Seems like a modest maid, who charms the more
Concealing half her beauties.
To the East,
Proud, yet complacent, on its subject realm,
With masts innumerable thronged, and hulls
Seen indistinct, but formidable, mark
Albion’s vast fleet, that, like the impatient storm,
Waits but the word to thunder and flash death
On him who dares approach to violate
The shores and living scenes that smile secure
Beneath its dragon-watch!
Long may they smile!
And long, majestic Albion (while the sound
From East to West, from Albis to the Po,
Of dark contention hurtles), may’st thou rest,
As calm and beautiful this sylvan scene
Looks on the refluent wave that steals below.

William Lisle Bowles

Age


Age, thou the loss of health and friends shalt mourn!
But thou art passing to that night-still bourne,
Where labour sleeps. The linnet, chattering loud
To the May morn, shall sing; thou, in thy shroud,
Forgetful and forgotten, sink to rest;
And grass-green be the sod upon thy breast!

William Lisle Bowles

After A Tempestuous Voyage. (At Tynemouth Priory)


As slow I climb the cliff’s ascending side,
Much musing on the track of terror past,
When o’er the dark wave rode the howling blast,
Pleased I look back, and view the tranquil tide
That laves the pebbled shore: and now the beam
Of evening smiles on the gray battlement,
And yon forsaken tower that time has rent:
The lifted oar far off with transient gleam
Is touched, and hushed is all the billowy deep!
Soothed by the scene, thus on tired Nature’s breast
A stillness slowly steals, and kindred rest;
While sea-sounds lull her, as she sinks to sleep,
Like melodies that mourn upon the lyre,
Waked by the breeze, and, as they mourn, expire!

William Lisle Bowles

Abba Thule’s Lament For His Son Prince Le Boo


I climb the highest cliff; I hear the sound
Of dashing waves; I gaze intent around;
I mark the gray cope, and the hollowness
Of heaven, and the great sun, that comes to bless
The isles again; but my long-straining eye,
No speck, no shadow can, far off, descry,
That I might weep tears of delight, and say,
It is the bark that bore my child away!
Sun, that returnest bright, beneath whose eye
The worlds unknown, and out-stretched waters lie,
Dost thou behold him now! On some rude shore,
Around whose crags the cheerless billows roar,
Watching the unwearied surges doth he stand,
And think upon his father’s distant land!
Or has his heart forgot, so far away,
These native woods, these rocks, and torrents gray,
The tall bananas whispering to the breeze,
The shores, the sound of these encircling seas,
Heard from his infant days, and the piled heap
Of holy stones, where his forefathers sleep!
Ah, me! till sunk by sorrow, I shall dwell
With them forgetful in the narrow cell,
Never shall time from my fond heart efface
His image; oft his shadow I shall trace
Upon the glimmering waters, when on high
The white moon wanders through the cloudless sky.
Oft in my silent cave, when to its fire
From the night’s rushing tempest we retire,
I shall behold his form, his aspect bland;
I shall retrace his footsteps on the sand;
And, when the hollow-sounding surges swell,
Still think I listen to his echoing shell.
Would I had perished ere that hapless day,
When the tall vessel, in its trim array,
First rushed upon the sounding surge, and bore
My age’s comfort from this sheltering shore!
I saw it spread its white wings to the wind,
Too soon it left these hills and woods behind,
Gazing, its course I followed till mine eye
No longer could its distant track descry;
Till on the confines of the billows hoar
A while it hung, and then was seen no more,
And only the blue hollow cope I spied,
And the long waste of waters tossing wide.
More mournful then each falling surge I heard,
Then dropt the stagnant tear upon my beard.
Methought the wild waves said, amidst their roar
At midnight, Thou shalt see thy son no more!
Now thrice twelve moons through the mid heavens have rolled
And many a dawn, and slow night, have I told:
And still as every weary day goes by,
A knot recording on my line I tie;[1]
But never more, emerging from the main,
I see the stranger’s bark approach again.
Has the fell storm o’erwhelmed him! Has its sweep
Buried the bounding vessel in the deep!
Is he cast bleeding on some desert plain!
Upon his father did he call in vain!
Have pitiless and bloody tribes defiled
The cold limbs of my brave, my beauteous child!
Oh! I shall never, never hear his voice;
The spring-time shall return, the isles rejoice,
But faint and weary I shall meet the morn,
And ‘mid the cheering sunshine droop forlorn!
The joyous conch sounds in the high wood loud,
O’er all the beach now stream the busy crowd;
Fresh breezes stir the waving plantain grove;
The fisher carols in the winding cove;
And light canoes along the lucid tide
With painted shells and sparkling paddles glide.
I linger on the desert rock alone,
Heartless, and cry for thee, my son, my son.

William Lisle Bowles

The Air


Oh, cast every care to the wind,
And dry, best beloved, the tear!
Secure, that thou ever shalt find,
The friend of thy bosom sincere.
Still friendship shall live in the breast of the brave,
And we’ll love, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.
I have felt each emotion of bliss,
That affection the fondest can prove,
Have received on my lip the first kiss
Of thy holy and innocent love;
But perish each hope of delight,
Like the flashes of night on the sea,
If ever, though far from thy sight,
My soul is forgetful of thee!
Still the memory shall live in the breast of the brave,
How we loved, the long day, where the forest-trees wave.
Now bring my boy; may God above
Shower blessings on his head!
May he requite his mother’s love,
And to her age a comfort prove,
When I perhaps am dead!
The beams of morn on his helm did play,
And aloud the bugle blew,
Then he leaped on his harnessed steed of gray,
And sighed to the winds as he galloped{f} away,
Adieu, my heart’s love, adieu!
And now he has joined the warrior train
Of knights and barons bold,
That, bound to Salem’s holy plain,
Across the gently-swelling main,
Their course exulting hold.
With a cross of gold, as on they passed,
The crimson streamers flew;
The shields hung glittering round the mast,
And on the waves a radiance cast,
Whilst all the trumpets blew.
O’er the Severn-surge, in long array,
So, the proud galleys went,
Till soon, as dissolved in ether gray,
The woods, and the shores, and the Holms[1] steal away,
And the long blue hills of Gwent.

William Lisle Bowles

The Dying Slave


Faint-gazing on the burning orb of day,
When Afric’s injured son expiring lay,
His forehead cold, his labouring bosom bare,
His dewy temples, and his sable hair,
His poor companions kissed, and cried aloud,
Rejoicing, whilst his head in peace he bowed:
Now thy long, long task is done,
Swiftly, brother, wilt thou run,
Ere to-morrow’s golden beam
Glitter on thy parent stream,
Swiftly the delights to share,
The feast of joy that waits thee there.
Swiftly, brother, wilt thou ride
O’er the long and stormy tide,
Fleeter than the hurricane,
Till thou see’st those scenes again,
Where thy father’s hut was reared,
Where thy mother’s voice was heard;
Where thy infant brothers played
Beneath the fragrant citron shade;
Where through green savannahs wide
Cooling rivers silent glide,
Or the shrill cicalas sing
Ceaseless to their murmuring;
Where the dance, the festive song,
Of many a friend divided long,
Doomed through stranger lands to roam,
Shall bid thy spirit welcome home!
Fearless o’er the foaming tide
Again thy light canoe shall ride;
Fearless on the embattled plain
Thou shalt lift thy lance again;
Or, starting at the call of morn,
Wake the wild woods with thy horn;
Or, rushing down the mountain-slope,
O’ertake the nimble antelope;
Or lead the dance, ‘mid blissful bands,
On cool Andracte’s yellow sands;
Or, in the embowering orange-grove,
Tell to thy long-forsaken love
The wounds, the agony severe,
Thy patient spirit suffered here!
Fear not now the tyrant’s power,
Past is his insulting hour;
Mark no more the sullen trait
On slavery’s brow of scorn and hate;
Hear no more the long sigh borne
Murmuring on the gales of morn!
Go in peace; yet we remain
Far distant toiling on in pain;
Ere the great Sun fire the skies
To our work of woe we rise;
And see each night, without a friend,
The world’s great comforter descend!
Tell our brethren, where ye meet,
Thus we toil with weary feet;
Yet tell them that Love’s generous flame,
In joy, in wretchedness the same,
In distant worlds was ne’er forgot;
And tell them that we murmur not;
Tell them, though the pang will start,
And drain the life-blood from the heart,
Tell them, generous shame forbids
The tear to stain our burning lids!
Tell them, in weariness and want,
For our native hills we pant,
Where soon, from shame and sorrow free,
We hope in death to follow thee!

William Lisle Bowles

Music


O Music! if thou hast a charm
That may the sense of pain disarm,
Be all thy tender tones addressed
To soothe to peace my Harriet’s breast;
And bid the magic of thy strain
So still the wakeful throb of pain,
That, rapt in the delightful measure,
Sweet Hope again may whisper pleasure,
And seem the notes of Spring to hear,
Prelusive to a happier year!
And if thy magic can restore
The shade of days that smile no more,
And softer, sweeter colours give
To scenes that in remembrance live;
Be to her pensive heart a friend,
And, whilst the tender shadows blend,
Recall, ere the brief trace be lost,
Each moment that she prized the most.
Perhaps, when many a cheerful day
Hereafter shall have stolen away,
If then some old and favourite strain
Should bring back to her thoughts again
The hours when, silent by her side,
I listened to her song and sighed;
Perhaps a long-forgotten name,
A thought, if not a tear may claim;
And when in distant plains away,
Alone I count each lingering day,
She may a silent prayer prefer
For him whose heart once bled for her.

William Lisle Bowles

Absence


There is strange music in the stirring wind,
When lowers the autumnal eve, and all alone
To the dark wood’s cold covert thou art gone,
Whose ancient trees on the rough slope reclined
Rock, and at times scatter their tresses sere.
If in such shades, beneath their murmuring,
Thou late hast passed the happier hours of spring,
With sadness thou wilt mark the fading year;
Chiefly if one, with whom such sweets at morn
Or evening thou hast shared, afar shall stray.
O Spring, return! return, auspicious May!
But sad will be thy coming, and forlorn,
If she return not with thy cheering ray,
Who from these shades is gone, far, far away.

William Lisle Bowles

Approach Of Summer


How shall I meet thee, Summer, wont to fill
My heart with gladness, when thy pleasant tide
First came, and on the Coomb’s romantic side
Was heard the distant cuckoo’s hollow bill!
Fresh flowers shall fringe the margin of the stream,
As with the songs of joyance and of hope
The hedge-rows shall ring loud, and on the slope
The poplars sparkle in the passing beam;
The shrubs and laurels that I loved to tend,
Thinking their May-tide fragrance would delight,
With many a peaceful charm, thee, my poor friend,
Shall put forth their green shoots, and cheer the sight!
But I shall mark their hues with sadder eyes,
And weep the more for one who in the cold earth lies!

William Lisle Bowles

A Garden-Seat At Home


Oh, no; I would not leave thee, my sweet home,
Decked with the mantling woodbine and the rose,
And slender woods that the still scene inclose,
For yon magnificent and ample dome
That glitters in my sight! yet I can praise
Thee, Arundel, who, shunning the thronged ways
Of glittering vice, silently dost dispense
The blessings of retired munificence.
Me, a sequestered cottage, on the verge
Of thy outstretched domain, delights; and here
I wind my walks, and sometimes drop a tear
O’er Harriet’s urn, scarce wishing to emerge
Into the troubled ocean of that life,
Where all is turbulence, and toil, and strife.
Calm roll the seasons o’er my shaded niche;
I dip the brush, or touch the tuneful string,
Or hear at eve the unscared blackbirds sing;
Enough if, from their loftier sphere, the rich
Deign my abode to visit, and the poor
Depart not, cold and hungry, from my door.

William Lisle Bowles

The Last Song Of Camoens.


The morning shone on Tagus’ rocky side,
And airs of summer swelled the yellow tide,
When, rising from his melancholy bed,
And faint, and feebly by Antonio led,
Poor Camoens, subdued by want and woe,
Along the winding margin wandered slow,
His harp, that once could each warm feeling move
Of patriot glory or of tenderest love,
His sole and sable friend (while a faint tone
Rose from the wires) placed by a mossy stone.
How beautiful the sun ascending shines
From ridge to ridge, along the purple vines!
How pure the azure of the opening skies!
How resonant the nearer rock replies
To call of early mariners! and, hark!
The distant whistle from yon parting bark,
That down the channel as serene she strays,
Her gray sail mingles with the morning haze,
Bound to explore, o’er ocean’s stormy reign,
New lands that lurk amid the lonely main!
A transient fervour touched the old man’s breast;
He raised his eyes, so long by care depressed,
And while they shone with momentary fire,
Ardent he struck the long-forgotten lyre.
From Tagus’ yellow-sanded shore,
O’er the billows, as they roar,
O’er the blue sea, waste and wide,
Our bark threw back the burning tide,
By northern breezes cheer’ly borne,
On to the kingdoms of the morn.
Blanco, whose cold shadow vast
Chills the western wave, is past!
Huge Bojador, frowning high,
Thy dismal terrors we defy!
But who may violate the sleep
And silence of the sultry deep;
Where, beneath the intenser sun,
Hot showers descend, red lightnings run;
Whilst all the pale expanse beneath
Lies burning wide, without a breath;
And at mid-day from the mast,
No shadow on the deck is cast!
Night by night, still seen the same,
Strange lights along the cordage flame,
Perhaps, the spirits of the good,
That wander this forsaken flood
Sing to the seas, as slow we float,
A solemn and a holy note!
Spectre of the southern main,
Thou barr’st our onward way in vain,
Wrapping the terrors of thy form,
In the thunder’s rolling storm!
Fearless o’er the indignant tide,
On to the east our galleys ride.
Triumph! for the toil is o’er
We kiss the far-sought Indian shore!
Glittering to the orient ray,
The banners of the Cross display!
Does my heart exulting bound?
Alas, forlorn, I gaze around:
Feeble, poor, and old, I stand,
A stranger in my native land!
My sable slave (ah, no! my only friend,
Whose steps upon my rugged path attend)
Sees, but with tenderness that fears to speak,
The tear that trickles down my aged cheek!
My harp is silent, famine shrinks mine eye,
“Give me a little food for charity!”

William Lisle Bowles

Absence


How shall I cheat the heavy hours, of thee
Deprived, of thy kind looks and converse sweet,
Now that the waving grove the dark storms beat,
And wintry winds sad sounding o’er the lea,
Scatter the sallow leaf! I would believe,
Thou, at this hour, with tearful tenderness
Dost muse on absent images, and press
In thought my hand, and say: Oh do not grieve,
Friend of my heart! at wayward fortune’s power;
One day we shall be happy, and each hour
Of pain forget, cheered by the summer ray.
These thoughts beguile my sorrow for thy loss,
And, as the aged pines their dark heads toss,
Oft steal the sense of solitude away.
So am I sadly soothed, yet do I cast
A wishful glance upon the seasons past,
And think how different was the happy tide,
When thou, with looks of love, wert smiling by my side.

William Lisle Bowles

Scene In France – Loutherbourg. (Exhibition, 1807.)


Artist, I own thy genius; but the touch
May be too restless, and the glare too much:
And sure none ever saw a landscape shine,
Basking in beams of such a sun as thine,
But felt a fervid dew upon his phiz,
And panting cried, O Lord, how hot it is!

William Lisle Bowles

In Youth


Milton, our noblest poet, in the grace
Of youth, in those fair eyes and clustering hair,
That brow untouched by one faint line of care,
To mar its openness, we seem to trace
The front of the first lord of human race,
‘Mid thine own Paradise portrayed so fair,
Ere Sin or Sorrow scathed it: such the air
That characters thy youth. Shall time efface
These lineaments as crowding cares assail!
It is the lot of fall’n humanity.
What boots it! armed in adamantine mail,
The unconquerable mind, and genius high,
Right onward hold their way through weal and woe,
Or whether life’s brief lot be high or low!

William Lisle Bowles

Lady M—-ve (Sketches In The Exhibition, 1805)


How clear a strife of light and shade is spread!
The face how touched with nature’s loveliest red!
The eye, how eloquent, and yet how meek!
The glow subdued, yet mantling on thy cheek!
M—-ve! I mark alone thy beauteous face,
But all is nature, dignity, and grace

William Lisle Bowles

That was indeed the greatest compilation of his poems!

No wonder his poems were characterized by the distinction of feeling, kindness, and solemn thought. He created such masterpieces out of his poems.

Well, I wouldn’t ever forget—Hope, my all-time favorite poem. 

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of William Lisle Bowles?

Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉

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