Part 2 out of 3
From morn to evening dews.
He told of the Magnolia,  spread
High as a cloud, high over head!
The Cypress and her spire,
Of flowers that with one scarlet gleam 
Cover a hundred leagues and seem
To set the hills on fire.
[Footnote 6: Magnolia grandiflora.]
[Footnote 7: The splendid appearance of these scarlet flowers,
which are scattered with such profusion over the Hills in the
Southern parts of North America is frequently mentioned by Bartram
in his Travels.]
The Youth of green Savannahs spake,
And many an endless endless lake
With all its fairy crowds
Of islands that together lie
As quietly as spots of sky
Among the evening clouds:
And then he said "How sweet it were
A fisher or a hunter there,
A gardener in the shade,
Still wandering with an easy mind
To build a household fire and find
A home in every glade."
"What days and what sweet years! Ah me!
Our life were life indeed, with thee
So pass'd in quiet bliss,
And all the while" said he "to know
That we were in a world of woe.
On such an earth as this!"
And then he sometimes interwove
Dear thoughts about a Father's love,
"For there," said he, "are spun
Around the heart such tender ties
That our own children to our eyes
Are dearer than the sun."
Sweet Ruth! and could you go with me
My helpmate in the woods to be,
Our shed at night to rear;
Or run, my own adopted bride,
A sylvan huntress at my side
And drive the flying deer.
"Beloved Ruth!" No more he said
Sweet Ruth alone at midnight shed
A solitary tear,
She thought again--and did agree
With him to sail across the sea,
And drive the flying deer.
"And now, as fitting is and right,
We in the Church our faith will plight,
A Husband and a Wife."
Even so they did; and I may say
That to sweet Ruth that happy day
Was more than human life.
Through dream and vision did she sink,
Delighted all the while to think
That on those lonesome floods
And green Savannahs she should share
His board with lawful joy, and bear
His name in the wild woods.
But, as you have before been told,
This Stripling, sportive gay and bold,
And, with his dancing crest,
So beautiful, through savage lands
Had roam'd about with vagrant bands
Of Indians in the West.
The wind, the tempest roaring high,
The tumult of a tropic sky
Might well be dangerous food.
For him, a Youth to whom was given
So much of earth so much of Heaven,
And such impetuous blood.
Whatever in those climes he found
Irregular in sight or sound
Did to his mind impart
A kindred impulse, seem'd allied
To his own powers, and justified
The workings of his heart.
Nor less to feed voluptuous thought
The beauteous forms of Nature wrought,
Fair trees and lovely flowers;
The breezes their own languor lent,
The stars had feelings which they sent
Into those magic bowers.
Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween,
That sometimes there did intervene
Pure hopes of high intent:
For passions link'd to forms so fair
And stately, needs must have their share
Of noble sentiment.
But ill he liv'd, much evil saw
With men to whom no better law
Nor better life was known;
Deliberately and undeceiv'd
Those wild men's vices he receiv'd,
And gave them back his own.
His genius and his moral frame
Were thus impair'd, and he became
The slave of low desires;
A man who without self-controul
Would seek what the degraded soul
And yet he with no feign'd delight
Had woo'd the Maiden, day and night
Had luv'd her, night and morn;
What could he less than love a Maid
Whose heart with so much nature play'd
So kind and so forlorn?
But now the pleasant dream was gone,
No hope, no wish remain'd, not one,
They stirr'd him now no more,
New objects did new pleasure give,
And once again he wish'd to live
As lawless as before.
Meanwhile as thus with him it fared.
They for the voyage were prepared
And went to the sea-shore,
But, when they thither came, the Youth
Deserted his poor Bride, and Ruth
Could never find him more.
"God help thee Ruth!"--Such pains she had
That she in half a year was mad
And in a prison hous'd,
And there, exulting in her wrongs,
Among the music of her songs
She fearfully carouz'd.
Yet sometimes milder hours she knew,
Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew,
Nor pastimes of the May,
They all were with her in her cell,
And a wild brook with chearful knell
Did o'er the pebbles play.
When Ruth three seasons thus had lain
There came a respite to her pain,
She from her prison fled;
But of the Vagrant none took thought,
And where it liked her best she sought
Her shelter and her bread.
Among the fields she breath'd again:
The master-current of her brain
Ran permanent and free,
And to the pleasant Banks of Tone 
She took her way, to dwell alone
Under the greenwood tree.
The engines of her grief, the tools
That shap'd her sorrow, rocks and pools,
And airs that gently stir
The vernal leaves, she loved them still,
Nor ever tax'd them with the ill
Which had been done to her.
[Footnote 8: The Tone is a River of Somersetshire at no great
distance from the Quantock Hills. These Hills, which are alluded to
a few Stanzas below, are extremely beautiful, and in most places
richly covered with Coppice woods.]
A Barn her _winter_ bed supplies,
But till the warmth of summer skies
And summer days is gone,
(And in this tale we all agree)
She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,
And other home hath none.
If she is press'd by want of food
She from her dwelling in the wood
Repairs to a road side,
And there she begs at one steep place,
Where up and down with easy pace
The horsemen-travellers ride.
That oaten pipe of hers is mute
Or thrown away, but with a flute
Her loneliness she cheers;
This flute made of a hemlock stalk
At evening in his homeward walk
The Quantock Woodman hears.
I, too have pass'd her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild,
Such small machinery as she turn'd
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourn'd
A young and happy Child!
Farewel! and when thy days are told
Ill-fated Ruth! in hallow'd mold
Thy corpse shall buried be,
For thee a funeral bell shall ring,
And all the congregation sing
A Christian psalm for thee.
Written with a Slate-pencil upon a Stone, the largest of a heap
lying near a deserted Quarry, upon one of the Islands at Rydale_.
Stranger! this hillock of mishapen stones
Is not a ruin of the ancient time,
Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem'st, the Cairn
Of some old British Chief: 'tis nothing more
Than the rude embryo of a little dome
Or pleasure-house, which was to have been built
Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.
But, as it chanc'd, Sir William having learn'd
That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,
And make himself a freeman of this spot
At any hour he chose, the Knight forthwith
Desisted, and the quarry and the mound
Are monuments of his unfinish'd task.--
The block on which these lines are trac'd, perhaps,
Was once selected as the corner-stone
Of the intended pile, which would have been
Some quaint odd play-thing of elaborate skill,
So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,
And other little builders who dwell here,
Had wonder'd at the work. But blame him not,
For old Sir William was a gentle Knight
Bred in this vale to which he appertain'd
With all his ancestry. Then peace to him
And for the outrage which he had devis'd
Entire forgiveness.--But if thou art one
On fire with thy impatience to become
An Inmate of these mountains, if disturb'd
By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn
Out of the quiet rock the elements
Of thy trim mansion destin'd soon to blaze
In snow-white splendour, think again, and taught
By old Sir William and his quarry, leave
Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose,
There let the vernal slow-worm sun himself,
And let the red-breast hop from stone to stone.
_In the School of ---- is a tablet on which are inscribed, in gilt
letters, the names of the federal persons who have been
Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with the
time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite
one of those names the Author wrote the following lines_.
If Nature, for a favorite Child
In thee hath temper'd so her clay,
That every hour thy heart runs wild
Yet never once doth go astray,
Read o'er these lines; and then review
This tablet, that thus humbly rears
In such diversity of hue
Its history of two hundred years.
--When through this little wreck of fame,
Cypher and syllable, thine eye
Has travell'd down to Matthew's name,
Pause with no common sympathy.
And if a sleeping tear should wake
Then be it neither check'd nor stay'd:
For Matthew a request I make
Which for himself he had not made.
Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er,
Is silent as a standing pool,
Far from the chimney's merry roar,
And murmur of the village school.
The sighs which Matthew heav'd were sighs
Of one tir'd out with fun and madness;
The tears which came to Matthew's eyes
Were tears of light, the oil of gladness.
Yet sometimes when the secret cup
Of still and serious thought went round
It seem'd as if he drank it up,
He felt with spirit so profound.
--Thou soul of God's best earthly mould,
Thou happy soul, and can it be
That these two words of glittering gold
Are all that must remain of thee?
The Two April Mornings.
We walk'd along, while bright and red
Uprose the morning sun,
And Matthew stopp'd, he look'd, and said,
"The will of God be done!"
A village Schoolmaster was he,
With hair of glittering grey;
As blithe a man as you could see
On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass,
And by the steaming rills,
We travell'd merrily to pass
A day among the hills.
"Our work," said I, "was well begun;
Then, from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought?"
A second time did Matthew stop,
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top
To me he made reply.
Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
Full thirty years behind.
And on that slope of springing corn
The self-same crimson hue
Fell from the sky that April morn,
The same which now I view!
With rod and line my silent sport
I plied by Derwent's wave,
And, coming to the church, stopp'd short
Beside my Daughter's grave.
Nine summers had she scarcely seen
The pride of all the vale;
And then she sang!--she would have been
A very nightingale.
Six feet in earth my Emma lay,
And yet I lov'd her more,
For so it seem'd, than till that day
I e'er had lov'd before.
And, turning from her grave, I met
Beside the church-yard Yew
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.
We talk'd with open heart, and tongue
Affectionate and true,
A pair of Friends, though I was young,
And Matthew seventy-two.
We lay beneath a spreading oak,
Beside a mossy seat,
And from the turf a fountain broke,
And gurgled at our feet.
Now, Matthew, let us try to match
This water's pleasant tune
With some old Border-song, or catch
That suits a summer's noon.
Or of the Church-clock and the chimes
Sing here beneath the shade,
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
Which you last April made!
On silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree;
And thus the dear old Man replied,
The grey-hair'd Man of glee.
"Down to the vale this water steers,
How merrily it goes!
Twill murmur on a thousand years,
And flow as now it flows."
And here, on this delightful day,
I cannot chuse but think
How oft, a vigorous Man, I lay
Beside this Fountain's brink.
My eyes are dim with childish tears.
My heart is idly stirr'd,
For the same sound is in my ears,
Which in those days I heard.
Thus fares it still in our decay:
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.
The blackbird in the summer trees,
The lark upon the hill,
Let loose their carols when they please,
Are quiet when they will.
With Nature never do _they_ wage
A foolish strife; they see
A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free:
But we are press'd by heavy laws,
And often, glad no more,
We wear a face of joy, because
We have been glad of yore.
If there is one who need bemoan
His kindred laid in earth,
The houshold hearts that were his own,
It is the man of mirth.
"My days, my Friend, are almost gone,
My life has been approv'd,
And many love me, but by none
Am I enough belov'd."
"Now both himself and me he wrongs,
The man who thus complains!
I live and sing my idle songs
Upon these happy plains,"
"And, Matthew, for thy Children dead
I'll be a son to thee!"
At this he grasp'd his hands, and said,
"Alas! that cannot be."
We rose up from the fountain-side,
And down the smooth descent
Of the green sheep-track did we glide,
And through the wood we went,
And, ere we came to Leonard's Rock,
He sang those witty rhymes
About the crazy old church-clock
And the bewilder'd chimes.
--It seems a day,
One of those heavenly days which cannot die,
When forth I sallied from our cottage-door, 
And with a wallet o'er my shoulder slung,
A nutting crook in hand, I turn'd my steps
Towards the distant woods, a Figure quaint,
Trick'd out in proud disguise of Beggar's weeds
Put on for the occasion, by advice
And exhortation of my frugal Dame.
[Footnote 1: The house at which I was boarded during the time
I was at School.]
Motley accoutrements! of power to smile
At thorns, and brakes, and brambles, and, in truth,
More ragged than need was. Among the woods,
And o'er the pathless rocks, I forc'd my way
Until, at length, I came to one dear nook
Unvisited, where not a broken bough
Droop'd with its wither'd leaves, ungracious sign
Of devastation, but the hazels rose
Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung,
A virgin scene!--A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and with wise restraint
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed
The banquet, or beneath the trees I sate
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I play'd;
A temper known to those, who, after long
And weary expectation, have been bless'd
With sudden happiness beyond all hope.--
--Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons re-appear
And fade, unseen by any human eye,
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
For ever, and I saw the sparkling foam,
And with my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleec'd with moss, beneath the shady trees,
Lay round me scatter'd like a flock of sheep,
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
Tribute to ease, and, of its joy secure
The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,
And dragg'd to earth both branch and bough, with crash
And merciless ravage; and the shady nook
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower
Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being: and unless I now
Confound my present feelings with the past,
Even then, when, from the bower I turn'd away,
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
The silent trees and the intruding sky.--
Then, dearest Maiden! move along these shades
In gentleness of heart with gentle hand
Touch,--for there is a Spirit in the woods.
Three years she grew in sun and shower,
Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown;
This Child I to myself will take,
She shall be mine, and I will make
A Lady of my own."
Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse, and with me
The Girl in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.
She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs,
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.
The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her, for her the willow bend,
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the storm
A beauty that shall mould her form
By silent sympathy.
The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her, and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.
And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell,
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell.
Thus Nature spake--The work was done--
How soon my Lucy's race was run!
She died and left to me
This heath, this calm and quiet scene,
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.
The Pet-Lamb, A Pastoral.
The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink;
I heard a voice, it said, Drink, pretty Creature, drink!
And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied;
A snow-white mountain Lamb with a Maiden at its side.
No other sheep were near, the Lamb was all alone,
And by a slender cord was tether'd to a stone;
With one knee on the grass did the little Maiden kneel,
While to that Mountain Lamb she gave its evening meal.
The Lamb while from her hand he thus his supper took
Seem'd to feast with head and ears, and his tail with pleasure shook.
"Drink, pretty Creature, drink," she said in such a tone
That I almost receiv'd her heart into my own.
'Twas little Barbara Lewthwaite, a Child of beauty rare;
I watch'd them with delight, they were a lovely pair.
And now with empty Can the Maiden turn'd away,
But ere ten yards were gone her footsteps did she stay.
Towards the Lamb she look'd, and from that shady place
I unobserv'd could see the workings of her face:
If Nature to her tongue could measur'd numbers bring
Thus, thought I, to her Lamb that little Maid would sing.
What ails thee, Young One? What? Why pull so at thy cord?
Is it not well with thee? Well both for bed and board?
Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be.
Rest little Young One, rest; what is't that aileth thee?
What is it thou would'st seek? What is wanting to thy heart?
Thy limbs are they not strong? And beautiful thou art:
This grass is tender grass, these flowers they have no peer,
And that green corn all day is rustling in thy ears.
If the Sun is shining hot, do but stretch thy woollen chain,
This beech is standing by, its covert thou can'st gain,
For rain and mountain storms the like thou need'st not fear,
The rain and storm are things which scarcely can come here.
Rest, little Young One, rest; thou hast forgot the day
When my Father found thee first in places far away:
Many flocks are on the hills, but thou wert own'd by none,
And thy Mother from thy side for evermore was gone.
He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought thee home,
A blessed day for thee! then whither would'st thou roam?
A faithful nurse thou hast, the dam that did thee yean
Upon the mountain tops no kinder could have been.
Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought thee in this Can
Fresh water from the brook as clear as ever ran;
And twice in the day when the ground is wet with dew
I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is and new.
Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they are now,
Then I'll yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the plough,
My playmate thou shalt be, and when the wind is cold
Our hearth shall be thy bed, our house shall be thy fold.
It will not, will not rest!--poor Creature can it be
That 'tis thy Mother's heart which is working so in thee?
Things that I know not of belike to thee are dear,
And dreams of things which thou can'st neither see nor hear.
Alas, the mountain tops that look so green and fair!
I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come there,
The little brooks, that seem all pastime and all play,
When they are angry, roar like lions for their prey.
Here thou needst not dread the raven in the sky,
He will not come to thee, our Cottage is hard by,
Night and day thou art safe as living thing can be,
Be happy then and rest, what is't that aileth thee?
As homeward through the lane I went with lazy feet,
This song to myself did I oftentimes repeat,
And it seem'd as I retrac'd the ballad line by line
That but half of it was hers, and one half of it was mine.
Again, and once again did I repeat the song,
"Nay" said I, "more than half to the Damsel must belong,
For she look'd with such a look, and she spake with such a tone,
That I almost receiv'd her heart into my own."
_Written in GERMANY,
On one of the coldest days of the Century_.
_I must apprize the Reader that the stoves in North Germany
generally have the impression of a galloping Horse upon them, this
being part of the Brunswick Arms_.
A fig for your languages, German and Norse,
Let me have the song of the Kettle,
And the tongs and the poker, instead of that horse
That gallops away with such fury and force
On this dreary dull plate of black metal.
Our earth is no doubt made of excellent stuff,
But her pulses beat slower and slower.
The weather in Forty was cutting and rough,
And then, as Heaven knows, the glass stood low enough,
And _now_ it is four degrees lower.
Here's a Fly, a disconsolate creature, perhaps
A child of the field, or the grove,
And sorrow for him! this dull treacherous heat
Has seduc'd the poor fool from his winter retreat,
And he creeps to the edge of my stove.
Alas! how he fumbles about the domains
Which this comfortless oven environ,
He cannot find out in what track he must crawl
Now back to the tiles, and now back to the hall,
And now on the brink of the iron.
Stock-still there he stands like a traveller bemaz'd,
The best of his skill he has tried;
His feelers methinks I can see him put forth
To the East and the West, and the South and the North,
But he finds neither guide-post nor guide.
See! his spindles sink under him, foot, leg and thigh,
His eyesight and hearing are lost,
Between life and death his blood freezes and thaws,
And his two pretty pinions of blue dusky gauze
Are glued to his sides by the frost.
No Brother, no Friend has he near him, while I
Can draw warmth from the cheek of my Love,
As blest and as glad in this desolate gloom,
As if green summer grass were the floor of my room,
And woodbines were hanging above.
Yet, God is my witness, thou small helpless Thing,
Thy life I would gladly sustain
Till summer comes up from the South, and with crowds
Of thy brethren a march thou should'st sound through the clouds,
And back to the forests again.
_The CHILDLESS FATHER_.
Up, Timothy, up with your Staff and away!
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;
The Hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds,
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds.
--Of coats and of jackets both grey, scarlet, and green,
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen,
With their comely blue aprons and caps white as snow,
The girls on the hills made a holiday show.
The bason of box-wood,  just six months before,
Had stood on the table at Timothy's door,
A Coffin through Timothy's threshold had pass'd,
One Child did it bear and that Child was his last.
[Footnote 9: In several parts of the North of England, when a
funeral takes place, a bason full of Sprigs of Box-wood is placed at
the door of the house from which the Coffin is taken up, and each
person who attends the funeral ordinarily takes a Sprig of this
Box-wood, and throws it into the grave of the deceased.]
Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,
The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark! away!
Old Timothy took up his Staff, and he shut
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.
Perhaps to himself at that moment he said,
"The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead"
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak,
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek.
THE OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR.
_The OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR,
The class of Beggars to which the old man here described belongs,
will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, and, mostly,
old and infirm persons, who confined themselves to a stated round in
their neighbourhood, and had certain fixed days, on which, at
different houses, they regularly received charity; sometimes in money,
but mostly in provisions.
I saw an aged Beggar in my walk,
And he was seated by the highway side
On a low structure of rude masonry
Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they
Who lead their horses down the steep rough road
May thence remount at ease. The aged man
Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone
That overlays the pile, and from a bag
All white with flour the dole of village dames,
He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one,
And scann'd them with a fix'd and serious look
Of idle computation. In the sun,
Upon the second step of that small pile,
Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills,
He sate, and eat his food in solitude;
And ever, scatter'd from his palsied hand,
That still attempting to prevent the waste,
Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers
Fell on the ground, and the small mountain birds,
Not venturing yet to peck their destin'd meal,
Approached within the length of half his staff.
Him from my childhood have I known, and then
He was so old, he seems not older now;
He travels on, a solitary man,
So helpless in appearance, that for him
The sauntering horseman-traveller does not throw
With careless hand his alms upon the ground,
But stops, that he may safely lodge the coin
Within the old Man's hat; nor quits him so,
But still when he has given his horse the rein
Towards the aged Beggar turns a look,
Sidelong and half-reverted. She who tends
The toll-gate, when in summer at her door
She turns her wheel, if on the road she sees
The aged Beggar coming, quits her work,
And lifts the latch for him that he may pass.
The Post-boy when his rattling wheels o'ertake
The aged Beggar, in the woody lane,
Shouts to him from behind, and, if perchance
The old Man does not change his course, the Boy
Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,
And passes gently by, without a curse
Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.
He travels on, a solitary Man,
His age has no companion. On the ground
His eyes are turn'd, and, as he moves along,
_They_ move along the ground; and evermore;
Instead of common and habitual sight
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale,
And the blue sky, one little span of earth
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,
Bowbent, his eyes for ever on the ground,
He plies his weary journey, seeing still,
And never knowing that he sees, some straw,
Some scatter'd leaf, or marks which, in one track,
The nails of cart or chariot wheel have left
Impress'd on the white road, in the same line,
At distance still the same. Poor Traveller!
His staff trails with him, scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust, he is so still
In look and motion that the cottage curs,
Ere he have pass'd the door, will turn away
Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls,
The vacant and the busy, maids and youths,
And urchins newly breech'd all pass him by:
Him even the slow-paced waggon leaves behind.
But deem not this man useless.--Statesmen! ye
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye
Who have a broom still ready in your hands
To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate
Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not
A burthen of the earth. Tis Nature's law
That none, the meanest of created things,
Of forms created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good, a spirit and pulse of good,
A life and soul to every mode of being
Inseparably link'd. While thus he creeps
From door to door, the Villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds
Past deeds and offices of charity
Else unremember'd, and so keeps alive
The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,
And that half-wisdom, half-experience gives
Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign
To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.
Among the farms and solitary huts
Hamlets, and thinly-scattered villages,
Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels
To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason, yet prepares that after joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursu'd
Doth find itself insensibly dispos'd
To virtue and true goodness. Some there are,
By their good works exalted, lofty minds
And meditative, authors of delight
And happiness, which to the end of time
Will live, and spread, and kindle; minds like these,
In childhood, from this solitary being,
This helpless wanderer, have perchance receiv'd,
(A thing more precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy man
Who sits at his own door, and like the pear
Which overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young,
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Shelter'd, and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred, all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,
His charters and exemptions; and perchance,
Though he to no one give the fortitude
And circumspection needful to preserve
His present blessings, and to husband up
The respite of the season, he, at least,
And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt.
Yet further.--Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel
No self-reproach, who of the moral law
Establish'd in the land where they abide
Are strict observers, and not negligent,
Meanwhile, in any tenderness of heart
Or act of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
--But of the poor man ask, the abject poor,
Go and demand of him, if there be here,
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul.
No--man is dear to man: the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been
Themselves the fathers and the dealers out
Of some small blessings, have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
--Such pleasure is to one kind Being known
My Neighbour, when with punctual care, each week
Duly as Friday comes, though press'd herself
By her own wants, she from her chest of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilarated heart,
Sits by her tire and builds her hope in heav'n.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And while, in that vast solitude to which
The tide of things has led him, he appears
To breathe and live but for himself alone,
Unblam'd, uninjur'd, let him bear about
The good which the benignant law of heaven
Has hung around him, and, while life is his,
Still let him prompt the unletter'd Villagers
To tender offices and pensive thoughts.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And, long as he can wander, let him breathe
The freshness of the vallies, let his blood
Struggle with frosty air and winter snows,
And let the charter'd wind that sweeps the heath
Beat his grey locks against his wither'd face.
Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness
Gives the last human interest to his heart.
May never House, misnamed of industry,
Make him a captive; for that pent-up din,
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air,
Be his the natural silence of old age.
Let him be free of mountain solitudes,
And have around him, whether heard or nor,
The pleasant melody of woodland birds.
Few are his pleasures; if his eyes, which now
Have been so long familiar with the earth,
No more behold the horizontal sun
Rising or setting, let the light at least
Find a free entrance to their languid orbs.
And let him, _where_ and _when_ he will, sit down
Beneath the trees, or by the grassy bank
Of high-way side, and with the little birds
Share his chance-gather'd meal, and, finally,
As in the eye of Nature he has liv'd,
So in the eye of Nature let him die.
There's George Fisher, Charles Fleming, and Reginald Shore,
Three rosy-cheek'd School-boys, the highest not more
Than the height of a Counsellor's bag;
To the top of Great How did it please them to climb,
and there they built up without mortar or lime
A Man on the peak of the crag.
They built him of stones gather'd up as they lay,
They built him and christen'd him all in one day,
An Urchin both vigorous and hale;
And so without scruple they call'd him Ralph Jones.
Now Ralph is renown'd for the length of his bones;
The Magog of Legberthwaite dale.
Just half a week after the Wind sallied forth,
And, in anger or merriment, out of the North
Coming on with a terrible pother,
From the peak of the crag blew the Giant away.
And what did these School-boys?--The very next day
They went and they built up another.
--Some little I've seen of blind boisterous works
In Paris and London, 'mong Christians or Turks,
Spirits busy to do and undo:
At remembrance whereof my blood sometimes will flag.
--Then, light-hearted Boys, to the top of the Crag!
And I'll build up a Giant with you.
Great How is a single and conspicuous hill, which rises towards the
foot of Thirl-mere, on the western side of the beautiful dale of
Legberthwaite, along the 'high road between Keswick' and Ambleside.
_A POET'S EPITAPH_.
Art thou a Statesman, in the van
Of public business train'd and bred,
--First learn to love one living man;
_Then_ may'st thou think upon the dead.
A Lawyer art thou?--draw not nigh;
Go, carry to some other place
The hardness of thy coward eye,
The falshood of thy sallow face.
Art thou a man of purple cheer?
A rosy man, right plump to see?
Approach; yet Doctor, not too near:
This grave no cushion is for thee.
Art thou a man of gallant pride,
A Soldier, and no mail of chaff?
Welcome!--but lay thy sword aside,
And lean upon a Peasant's staff.
Physician art thou? One, all eyes,
Philosopher! a fingering slave,
One that would peep and botanize
Upon his mother's grave?
Wrapp'd closely in thy sensual fleece
O turn aside, and take, I pray,
That he below may rest in peace,
Thy pin-point of a soul away!
--A Moralist perchance appears;
Led, Heaven knows how! to this poor sod:
And He has neither eyes nor ears;
Himself his world, and his own God;
One to whose smooth-rubb'd soul can cling
Nor form nor feeling great nor small,
A reasoning, self-sufficing thing,
An intellectual All in All!
Shut close the door! press down the latch:
Sleep in thy intellectual crust,
Nor lose ten tickings of thy watch,
Near this unprofitable dust.
But who is He with modest looks,
And clad in homely russet brown?
He murmurs near the running brooks
A music sweeter than their own.
He is retired as noontide dew,
Or fountain in a noonday grove;
And you must love him, ere to you
He will seem worthy of your love.
The outward shews of sky and earth.
Of hill and valley he has view'd;
And impulses of deeper birth
Have come to him in solitude.
In common things that round us lie
Some random truths he can impart
The harvest of a quiet eye
That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
But he is weak, both man and boy,
Hath been an idler in the land;
Contented if he might enjoy
The things which others understand.
--Come hither in thy hour of strength,
Come, weak as is a breaking wave!
Here stretch thy body at full length
Or build thy house upon this grave.--
_In the antithetical Manner_.
I marvel how Nature could ever find space
For the weight and the levity seen in his face:
There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom,
And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.
There's weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;
Such strength, as if ever affliction and pain
Could pierce through a temper that's soft to disease,
Would be rational peace--a philosopher's ease.
There's indifference, alike when he fails and succeeds,
And attention full ten times as much as there needs,
Pride where there's no envy, there's so much of joy;
And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy.
There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare
Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she's there.
There's virtue, the title it surely may claim,
Yet wants, heaven knows what, to be worthy the name.
What a picture! 'tis drawn without nature or art,
--Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart,
And I for five centuries right gladly would be
Such an odd, such a kind happy creature as he.
Between two sister moorland rills
There is a spot that seems to lie
Sacred to flowrets of the hills,
And sacred to the sky.
And in this smooth and open dell
There is a tempest-stricken tree;
A corner stone by lightning cut,
The last stone of a cottage hut;
And in this dell you see
A thing no storm can e'er destroy,
The shadow of a Danish Boy.
In clouds above, the lark is heard,
He sings his blithest and his beet;
But in this lonesome nook the bird
Did never build his nest.
No beast, no bird hath here his home;
The bees borne on the breezy air
Pass high above those fragrant bells
To other flowers, to other dells.
Nor ever linger there.
The Danish Boy walks here alone:
The lovely dell is all his own.
A spirit of noon day is he,
He seems a Form of flesh and blood;
A piping Shepherd he might be,
A Herd-boy of the wood.
A regal vest of fur he wears,
In colour like a raven's wing;
It fears nor rain, nor wind, nor dew,
But in the storm 'tis fresh and blue
As budding pines in Spring;
His helmet has a vernal grace,
Fresh as the bloom upon his face.
A harp is from his shoulder slung;
He rests the harp upon his knee,
And there in a forgotten tongue
He warbles melody.
Of flocks and herds both far and near
He is the darling and the joy,
And often, when no cause appears,
The mountain ponies prick their ears,
They hear the Danish Boy,
While in the dell he sits alone
Beside the tree and corner-stone.
When near this blasted tree you pass,
Two sods are plainly to be seen
Close at its root, and each with grass
Is cover'd fresh and green.
Like turf upon a new-made grave
These two green sods together lie,
Nor heat, nor cold, nor rain, nor wind
Can these two sods together bind,
Nor sun, nor earth, nor sky,
But side by side the two are laid,
As if just sever'd by the spade.
There sits he: in his face you spy
No trace of a ferocious air,
Nor ever was a cloudless sky
So steady or so fair.
The lovely Danish Boy is blest
And happy in his flowery cove;
From bloody deeds his thoughts are far;
And yet he warbles songs of war;
They seem like songs of love,
For calm and gentle is his mien;
Like a dead Boy he is serene.
POEMS ON THE
_NAMING OF PLACES_.
By Persons resident in the country and attached to rural objects,
many places will be found unnamed or of unknown names, where little
Incidents will have occurred, or feelings been experienced, which
will have given to such places a private and peculiar interest. From
a wish to give some sort of record to such Incidents or renew the
gratification of such Feelings, Names have been given to Places by
the Author and some of his Friends, and the following Poems written
_POEMS on the NAMING of PLACES_.
It was an April Morning: fresh and clear
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
Ran with a young man's speed, and yet the voice
Of waters which the winter had supplied
Was soften'd down into a vernal tone.
The spirit of enjoyment and desire,
And hopes and wishes, from all living things
Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.
The budding groves appear'd as if in haste
To spur the steps of June; as if their shades
Of various green were hindrances that stood
Between them and their object: yet, meanwhile,
There was such deep contentment in the air
That every naked ash, and tardy tree
Yet leafless, seem'd as though the countenance
With which it look'd on this delightful day
Were native to the summer.--Up the brook
I roam'd in the confusion of my heart,
Alive to all things and forgetting all.
At length I to a sudden turning came
In this continuous glen, where down a rock
The stream, so ardent in its course before,
Sent forth such sallies of glad sound, that all
Which I till then had heard, appear'd the voice
Of common pleasure: beast and bird, the lamb,
The Shepherd's dog, the linnet and the thrush
Vied with this waterfall, and made a song
Which, while I listen'd, seem'd like the wild growth
Or like some natural produce of the air
That could not cease to be. Green leaves were here,
But 'twas the foliage of the rocks, the birch,
The yew, the holly, and the bright green thorn,
With hanging islands of resplendent furze:
And on a summit, distant a short space,
By any who should look beyond the dell,
A single mountain Cottage might be seen.
I gaz'd and gaz'd, and to myself I said,
"Our thoughts at least are ours; and this wild nook,
My EMMA, I will dedicate to thee."
--Soon did the spot become my other home,
My dwelling, and my out-of-doors abode.
And, of the Shepherds who have seen me there,
To whom I sometimes in our idle talk
Have told this fancy, two or three, perhaps,
Years after we are gone and in our graves,
When they have cause to speak of this wild place,
May call it by the name of EMMA'S DELL.
Amid the smoke of cities did you pass
Your time of early youth, and there you learn'd,
From years of quiet industry, to love
The living Beings by your own fire-side,
With such a strong devotion, that your heart
Is slow towards the sympathies of them
Who look upon the hills with tenderness,
And make dear friendships with the streams and groves.
Yet we who are transgressors in this kind,
Dwelling retired in our simplicity
Among the woods and fields, we love you well,
Joanna! and I guess, since you have been
So distant from us now for two long years,
That you will gladly listen to discourse
However trivial, if you thence are taught
That they, with whom you once were happy, talk
Familiarly of you and of old times.
While I was seated, now some ten days past,
Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop
Their ancient neighbour, the old Steeple tower,
The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by
Came forth to greet me, and when he had ask'd,
"How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid!
And when will she return to us?" he paus'd,
And after short exchange of village news,
He with grave looks demanded, for what cause,
Reviving obsolete Idolatry,
I like a Runic Priest, in characters
Of formidable size, had chisel'd out
Some uncouth name upon the native rock,
Above the Rotha, by the forest side.
--Now, by those dear immunities of heart
Engender'd betwixt malice and true love,
I was not both to be so catechiz'd,
And this was my reply.--"As it befel,
One summer morning we had walk'd abroad
At break of day, Joanna and myself.
--'Twas that delightful season, when the broom,
Full flower'd, and visible on every steep,
Along the copses runs in veins of gold."
Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks,
And when we came in front of that tall rock
Which looks towards the East, I there stopp'd short,
And trac'd the lofty barrier with my eye
From base to summit; such delight I found
To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower,
That intermixture of delicious hues,
Along so vast a surface, all at once,
In one impression, by connecting force
Of their own beauty, imag'd in the heart.
--When I had gaz'd perhaps two minutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laugh'd aloud.
The rock, like something starting from a sleep,
Took up the Lady's voice, and laugh'd again:
That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag
Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-Scar,
And the tall Steep of Silver-How sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,
And Fairfield answer'd with a mountain tone:
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the Lady's voice,--old Skiddaw blew
His speaking trumpet;--back out of the clouds
Of Glaramara southward came the voice;
And Kirkstone toss'd it from his misty head.
Now whether, (said I to our cordial Friend
Who in the hey-day of astonishment
Smil'd in my face) this were in simple truth
A work accomplish'd by the brotherhood
Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touch'd
With dreams and visionary impulses,
Is not for me to tell; but sure I am
That there was a loud uproar in the hills.
And, while we both were listening, to my side
The fair Joanna drew, is if she wish'd
To shelter from some object of her fear.
--And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen moons
Were wasted, as I chanc'd to walk alone
Beneath this rock, at sun-rise, on a calm
And silent morning, I sate down, and there,
In memory of affections old and true,
I chissel'd out in those rude characters
Joanna's name upon the living stone.
And I, and all who dwell by my fire-side
Have call'd the lovely rock, Joanna's Rock.
In Cumberland and Westmoreland are several Inscriptions upon the
native rock which from the wasting of Time and the rudeness of the
Workmanship had been mistaken for Runic. They are without doubt Roman.
The Roths, mentioned in this poem, is the River which flowing
through the Lakes of Grasmere and Rydole fells into Wyndermere. On
Helm-Crag, that impressive single Mountain at the head of the Vale
of Grasmere, is a Rock which from most points of view bears a
striking resemblance to an Old Woman cowering. Close by this rock is
one of those Fissures or Caverns, which in the language of the
Country are called Dungeons. The other Mountains either immediately
surround the Vale of Grasmere, or belong to the same Cluster.
There is an Eminence,--of these our hills
The last that parleys with the setting sun.
We can behold it from our Orchard seat.
And, when at evening we pursue our walk
Along the public way, this Cliff, so high
Above us, and so distant in its height,
Is visible, and often seems to send
Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts.
The meteors make of it a favorite haunt:
The star of Jove, so beautiful and large
In the mid heav'ns, is never half so fair
As when he shines above it. 'Tis in truth
The loneliest place we have among the clouds.
And She who dwells with me, whom I have lov'd
With such communion, that no place on earth
Can ever be a solitude to me,
Hath said, this lonesome Peak shall bear my Name.
A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interpos'd
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy.
And there, myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Saunter'd on this retir'd and difficult way.
--Ill suits the road with one in haste, but we
Play'd with our time; and, as we stroll'd along,
It was our occupation to observe
Such objects as the waves had toss'd ashore,
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or wither'd bough,
Each on the other heap'd along the line
Of the dry wreck. And in our vacant mood,
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,
Which, seeming lifeless half, and half impell'd
By some internal feeling, skimm'd along
Close to the surface of the lake that lay
Asleep in a dead calm, ran closely on
Along the dead calm lake, now here, now there,
In all its sportive wanderings all the while
Making report of an invisible breeze
That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,
Its very playmate, and its moving soul.
--And often, trifling with a privilege
Alike indulg'd to all, we paus'd, one now,
And now the other, to point out, perchance
To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair
Either to be divided from the place
On which it grew, or to be left alone
To its own beauty. Many such there are,
Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall plant
So stately, of the Queen Osmunda nam'd,
Plant lovelier in its own retir'd abode
On Grasmere's beach, than Naid by the side
Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere
Sole-sitting by the shores of old Romance.
--So fared we that sweet morning: from the fields
Meanwhile, a noise was heard, the busy mirth
Of Reapers, Men and Women, Boys and Girls.
Delighted much to listen to those sounds,
And in the fashion which I have describ'd,
Feeding unthinking fancies, we advanc'd
Along the indented shore; when suddenly,
Through a thin veil of glittering haze, we saw
Before us on a point of jutting land
The tall and upright figure of a Man
Attir'd in peasant's garb, who stood alone
Angling beside the margin of the lake.
That way we turn'd our steps: nor was it long,
Ere making ready comments on the sight
Which then we saw, with one and the same voice
We all cried out, that he must be indeed
An idle man, who thus could lose a day
Of the mid harvest, when the labourer's hire
Is ample, and some little might be stor'd
Wherewith to chear him in the winter time.
Thus talking of that Peasant we approach'd
Close to the spot where with his rod and line
He stood alone; whereat he turn'd his head
To greet us--and we saw a man worn down
By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks
And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean
That for my single self I look'd at them,
Forgetful of the body they sustain'd.--
Too weak to labour in the harvest field,
The man was using his best skill to gain
A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake
That knew not of his wants. I will not say
What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how
The happy idleness of that sweet morn,
With all its lovely images, was chang'd
To serious musing and to self-reproach.
Nor did we fail to see within ourselves
What need there is to be reserv'd in speech,
And temper all our thoughts with charity.
--Therefore, unwilling to forget that day,
My Friend, Myself, and She who then receiv'd
The same admonishment, have call'd the plate
By a memorial name, uncouth indeed
As e'er by Mariner was giv'n to Bay
Or Foreland on a new-discover'd coast,
And, POINT RASH-JUDGMENT is the Name it bears.
_To M. H_.
Our walk was far among the ancient trees:
There was no road, nor any wood-man's path,
But the thick umbrage, checking the wild growth
Of weed sapling, on the soft green turf
Beneath the branches of itself had made
A track which brought us to a slip of lawn,
And a small bed of water in the woods.
All round this pool both flocks and herds might drink
On its firm margin, even as from a well
Or some stone-bason which the Herdsman's hand
Had shap'd for their refreshment, nor did sun
Or wind from any quarter ever come
But as a blessing to this calm recess,
This glade of water and this one green field.
The spot was made by Nature for herself:
The travellers know it not, and 'twill remain
Unknown to them; but it is beautiful,
And if a man should plant his cottage near.
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its tress,
And blend its waters with his daily meal,
He would so love it that in his death-hour
Its image would survive among his thoughts,
And, therefore, my sweet MARY, this still nook
With all its beeches we have named from You.
_A PASTORAL POEM_.
_A PASTORAL POEM_
If from the public way you turn your steps
Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill,
You will suppose that with an upright path
Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent
The pastoral Mountains front you, face to face.
But, courage! for beside that boisterous Brook
The mountains have all open'd out themselves,
And made a hidden valley of their own.
No habitation there is seen; but such
As journey thither find themselves alone
With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites
That overhead are sailing in the sky.
It is in truth an utter solitude,
Nor should I have made mention of this Dell
But for one object which you might pass by,
Might see and notice not. Beside the brook
There is a straggling heap of unhewn stones!
And to that place a story appertains,
Which, though it be ungarnish'd with events,
Is not unfit, I deem, for the fire-side,
Or for the summer shade. It was the first,
The earliest of those tales that spake to me
Of Shepherds, dwellers in the vallies, men
Whom I already lov'd, not verily
For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills
Where was their occupation and abode.
And hence this Tale, while I was yet a boy
Careless of books, yet having felt the power
Of Nature, by the gentle agency
Of natural objects led me on to feel
For passions that were not my own, and think
At random and imperfectly indeed
On man; the heart of man and human life.
Therefore, although it be a history
Homely and rude, I will relate the same
For the delight of a few natural hearts,
And with yet fonder feeling, for the sake
Of youthful Poets, who among these Hills
Will be my second self when I am gone.
Upon the Forest-side in Grasmere Vale
There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name.
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen
Intense and frugal, apt for all affairs,
And in his Shepherd's calling he was prompt
And watchful more than ordinary men.
Hence he had learn'd the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone, and often-times
When others heeded not, He heard the South
Make subterraneous music, like the noise
Of Bagpipers on distant Highland hills;
The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock
Bethought him, and he to himself would say
The winds are now devising work for me!
And truly at all times the storm, that drives
The Traveller to a shelter, summon'd him
Up to the mountains: he had been alone
Amid the heart of many thousand mists
That came to him and left him on the heights.
So liv'd he till his eightieth year was pass'd.
And grossly that man errs, who should suppose
That the green Valleys, and the Streams and Rocks
Were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts.
Fields, where with chearful spirits he had breath'd
The common air; the hills, which he so oft
Had climb'd with vigorous steps; which had impress'd
So many incidents upon his mind
Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;
Which like a book preserv'd the memory
Of the dumb animals, whom he had sav'd,
Had fed or shelter'd, linking to such acts,
So grateful in themselves, the certainty
Of honorable gains; these fields, these hills
Which were his living Being, even more
Than his own Blood--what could they less? had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
He had not passed his days in singleness.
He had a Wife, a comely Matron, old
Though younger than himself full twenty years.
She was a woman of a stirring life
Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had
Of antique form, this large for spinning wool,
That small for flax, and if one wheel had rest,
It was because the other was at work.
The Pair had but one Inmate in their house,
An only Child, who had been born to them
When Michael telling o'er his years began
To deem that he was old, in Shepherd's phrase,
With one foot in the grave. This only son,
With two brave sheep dogs tried in many a storm.
The one of an inestimable worth,
Made all their Household. I may truly say,
That they were as a proverb in the vale
For endless industry. When day was gone,
And from their occupations out of doors
The Son and Father were come home, even then,
Their labour did not cease, unless when all
Turn'd to their cleanly supper-board, and there
Each with a mess of pottage and skimm'd milk,
Sate round their basket pil'd with oaten cakes,
And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when their meal
Was ended, LUKE (for so the Son was nam'd)
And his old Father, both betook themselves
To such convenient work, as might employ
Their hands by the fire-side; perhaps to card
Wool for the House-wife's spindle, or repair
Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe,
Or other implement of house or field.
Down from the cicling by the chimney's edge,
Which in our ancient uncouth country style
Did with a huge projection overbrow
Large space beneath, as duly as the light
Of day grew dim, the House-wife hung a lamp;
An aged utensil, which had perform'd
Service beyond all others of its kind.
Early at evening did it burn and late,
Surviving Comrade of uncounted Hours
Which going by from year to year had found
And left the Couple neither gay perhaps
Nor chearful, yet with objects and with hopes
Living a life of eager industry.
And now, when LUKE was in his eighteenth year,
There by the light of this old lamp they sate,
Father and Son, while late into the night
The House-wife plied her own peculiar work,
Making the cottage thro' the silent hours
Murmur as with the sound of summer flies.
Not with a waste of words, but for the sake
Of pleasure, which I know that I shall give
To many living now, I of this Lamp
Speak thus minutely: for there are no few
Whose memories will bear witness to my tale,
The Light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public Symbol of the life,
The thrifty Pair had liv'd. For, as it chanc'd,
Their Cottage on a plot of rising ground
Stood single, with large prospect North and South,
High into Easedale, up to Dunmal-Raise,
And Westward to the village near the Lake.
And from this constant light so regular
And so far seen, the House itself by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,
Both old and young, was nam'd The Evening Star.
Thus living on through such a length of years,
The Shepherd, if he lov'd himself, must needs
Have lov'd his Help-mate; but to Michael's heart
This Son of his old age was yet more dear--
Effect which might perhaps have been produc'd
By that instinctive tenderness, the same
Blind Spirit, which is in the blood of all,
Or that a child, more than all other gifts,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
From such, and other causes, to the thoughts
Of the old Man his only Son was now
The dearest object that he knew on earth.
Exceeding was the love he bare to him,
His Heart and his Heart's joy! For oftentimes
Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female service, not alone
For dalliance and delight, as is the use
Of Fathers, but with patient mind enforc'd
To acts of tenderness; and he had rock'd
His cradle with a woman's gentle hand.
And in a later time, ere yet the Boy
Had put on Boy's attire, did Michael love,
Albeit of a stern unbending mind,
To have the young one in his sight, when he
Had work by his own door, or when he sate
With sheep before him on his Shepherd's stool,
Beneath that large old Oak, which near their door
Stood, and from it's enormous breadth of shade
Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun,
Thence in our rustic dialect was call'd
The CLIPPING TREE,  a name which yet it bears.
[Footnote 10: Clipping is the word used in the North of England for
There, while they two were sitting in the shade,
With others round them, earnest all and blithe,
Would Michael exercise his heart with looks
Of fond correction and reproof bestow'd
Upon the child, if he dislurb'd the sheep
By catching at their legs, or with his shouts
Scar'd them, while they lay still beneath the shears.
And when by Heaven's good grace the Boy grew up
A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek
Two steady roses that were five years old,
Then Michael from a winter coppice cut
With his own hand a sapling, which he hoop'd
With iron, making it throughout in all
Due requisites a perfect Shepherd's Staff,
And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipp'd
He as a Watchman oftentimes was plac'd
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock,
And to his office prematurely call'd
There stood the urchin, as you will divine,
Something between a hindrance and a help,
And for this cause not always, I believe,
Receiving from his Father hire of praise.
While this good household thus were living on
From day to day, to Michael's ear there came
Distressful tidings. Long before, the time
Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound
In surety for his Brother's Son, a man
Of an industrious life, and ample means,
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly
Had press'd upon him, and old Michael now
Was summon'd to discharge the forfeiture,
A grievous penalty, but little less
Than half his substance. This un-look'd-for claim
At the first hearing, for a moment took
More hope out of his life than he supposed
That any old man ever could have lost.
As soon as he had gather'd so much strength
That he could look his trouble in the face,
It seem'd that his sole refuge was to sell
A portion of his patrimonial fields.
Such was his first resolve; he thought again,
And his heart fail'd him. "Isabel," said he,
Two evenings after he had heard the news,
"I have been toiling more than seventy years,
And in the open sun-shine of God's love
Have we all liv'd, yet if these fields of ours
Should pass into a Stranger's hand, I think
That I could not lie quiet in my grave."
"Our lot is a hard lot; the Sun itself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I,
And I have liv'd to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil Man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not false,
There are ten thousand to whom loss like this
Had been no sorrow. I forgive him--but
'Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.
When I began, my purpose was to speak
Of remedies and of a chearful hope."
"Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land
Shall not go from us, and it shall be free,
He shall possess it, free as is the wind
That passes over it. We have, thou knowest,
Another Kinsman, he will be our friend
In this distress. He is a prosperous man,
Thriving in trade, and Luke to him shall go,
And with his Kinsman's help and his own thrift,
He quickly will repair this loss, and then
May come again to us. If here he stay,
What can be done? Where every one is poor
What can be gain'd?" At this, the old man paus'd,
And Isabel sate silent, for her mind
Was busy, looking back into past times.
There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself,
He was a parish-boy--at the church-door
They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence,
And halfpennies, wherewith the Neighbours bought
A Basket, which they fill'd with Pedlar's wares,
And with this Basket on his arm, the Lad
Went up to London, found a Master there,
Who out of many chose the trusty Boy
To go and overlook his merchandise
Beyond the seas, where he grew wond'rous rich,
And left estates and monies to the poor,
And at his birth-place built a Chapel, floor'd
With Marble, which he sent from foreign lands.
These thoughts, and many others of like sort,
Pass'd quickly thro' the mind of Isabel,
And her face brighten'd. The Old Man was glad.
And thus resum'd. "Well I Isabel, this scheme
These two days has been meat and drink to me.
Far more than we have lost is left us yet.
--We have enough--I wish indeed that I
Were younger, but this hope is a good hope.
--Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best
Buy for him more, and let us send him forth
To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night:
--If he could go, the Boy should go to-night."
Here Michael ceas'd, and to the fields went forth
With a light heart. The House-wife for five days
Was restless morn and night, and all day long
Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare
Things needful for the journey of her Son.
But Isabel was glad when Sunday came
To stop her in her work; for, when she lay
By Michael's side, she for the two last nights
Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep:
And when they rose at morning she could see
That all his hopes were gone. That day at noon
She said to Luke, while they two by themselves
Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not go,
We have no other Child but thee to lose,
None to remember--do not go away,
For if thou leave thy Father he will die."
The Lad made answer with a jocund voice,
And Isabel, when she had told her fears,
Recover'd heart. That evening her best fare
Did she bring forth, and all together sate
Like happy people round a Christmas fire.
Next morning Isabel resum'd her work,
And all the ensuing week the house appear'd
As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length
The expected letter from their Kinsman came,
With kind assurances that he would do
His utmost for the welfare of the Boy,
To which requests were added that forthwith
He might be sent to him. Ten times or more
The letter was read over; Isabel
Went forth to shew it to the neighbours round:
Nor was there at that time on English Land
A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel
Had to her house return'd, the Old Man said,
"He shall depart to-morrow." To this word
The House--wife answered, talking much of things
Which, if at such, short notice he should go,
Would surely be forgotten. But at length
She gave consent, and Michael was at ease.
Near the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill,
In that deep Valley, Michael had design'd
To build a Sheep-fold, and, before he heard
The tidings of his melancholy loss,
For this same purpose he had gathered up
A heap of stones, which close to the brook side
Lay thrown together, ready for the work.
With Luke that evening thitherward he walk'd;
And soon as they had reach'd the place he stopp'd,
And thus the Old Man spake to him. "My Son,
To-morrow thou wilt leave me; with full heart
I look upon thee, for thou art the same
That wert a promise to me ere thy birth,
And all thy life hast been my daily joy.
I will relate to thee some little part
Of our two histories; 'twill do thee good
When thou art from me, even if I should speak
Of things thou caust not know of.--After thou
First cam'st into the world, as it befalls
To new-born infants, thou didst sleep away
Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue
Then fell upon thee. Day by day pass'd on,
And still I lov'd thee with encreasing love."