And late at night she sought her love— The snow slept on her skin— Get up, she cried, thou false young man, And let thy true love in. And fain would he have loosed the key All for his true love's sake, But Lord Gregory then was fast asleep, His mother wide awake.
And up she threw the window sash, And out her head put she: And who is that which knocks so late And taunts so loud to me? It is the Maid of Ocram, Your own heart's next akin; For so you've sworn, Lord Gregory, To come and let me in.
O pause not thus, you know me well, Haste down my way to win. The wind disturbs my yellow locks, The snow sleeps on my skin.— If you be the Maid of Ocram, As much I doubt you be, Then tell me of three tokens That passed with you and me.—
O talk not now of tokens Which you do wish to break; Chilled are those lips you've kissed so warm, And all too numbed to speak. You know when in my father's bower You left your cloak for mine, Though yours was nought but silver twist And mine the golden twine.—
If you're the lass of Ocram, As I take you not to be, The second token you must tell Which past with you and me.— O know you not, O know you not Twas in my father's park, You led me out a mile too far And courted in the dark?
When you did change your ring for mine My yielding heart to win, Though mine was of the beaten gold Yours but of burnished tin, Though mine was all true love without, Yours but false love within?
O ask me no more tokens For fast the snow doth fall. Tis sad to strive and speak in vain, You mean to break them all.— If you are the Maid of Ocram, As I take you not to be, You must mention the third token That passed with you and me.—
Twas when you stole my maidenhead; That grieves me worst of all.— Begone, you lying creature, then This instant from my hall, Or you and your vile baby Shall in the deep sea fall; For I have none on earth as yet That may me father call.—
O must none close my dying feet, And must none close my hands, And may none bind my yellow locks As death for all demands? You need not use no force at all, Your hard heart breaks the vow; You've had your wish against my will And you shall have it now.
And must none close my dying feet, And must none close my hands, And will none do the last kind deeds That death for all demands?— Your sister, she may close your feet, Your brother close your hands, Your mother, she may wrap your waist In death's fit wedding bands; Your father, he may tie your locks And lay you in the sands.—
My sister, she will weep in vain, My brother ride and run, My mother, she will break her heart; And ere the rising sun My father will be looking out— But find me they will none. I go to lay my woes to rest, None shall know where I'm gone. God must be friend and father both, Lord Gregory will be none.—
Lord Gregory started up from sleep And thought he heard a voice That screamed full dreadful in his ear, And once and twice and thrice. Lord Gregory to his mother called: O mother dear, said he, I've dreamt the Maid of Ocram Was floating on the sea.
Lie still, my son, the mother said, Tis but a little space And half an hour has scarcely passed Since she did pass this place.— O cruel, cruel mother, When she did pass so nigh How could you let me sleep so sound Or let her wander bye? Now if she's lost my heart must break— I'll seek her till I die.
He sought her east, he sought her west, He sought through park and plain; He sought her where she might have been But found her not again. I cannot curse thee, mother, Though thine's the blame, said he I cannot curse thee, mother, Though thou'st done worse to me. Yet do I curse thy pride that aye So tauntingly aspires; For my love was a gay knight's heir, And my father was a squire's.
And I will sell my park and hall; And if ye wed again Ye shall not wed for titles twice That made ye once so vain. So if ye will wed, wed for love, As I was fain to do; Ye've gave to me a broken heart, And I'll give nought to you.
Your pride has wronged your own heart's blood; For she was mine by grace, And now my lady love is gone None else shall take her place. I'll sell my park and sell my hall And sink my titles too. Your pride's done wrong enough as now To leave it more to do.
She owneth none that owned them all And would have graced them well; None else shall take the right she missed Nor in my bosom dwell.— And then he took and burnt his will Before his mother's face, And tore his patents all in two, While tears fell down apace— But in his mother's haughty look Ye nought but frowns might trace.
And then he sat him down to grieve, But could not sit for pain. And then he laid him on the bed And ne'er got up again.
The Gipsy's Camp
How oft on Sundays, when I'd time to tramp, My rambles led me to a gipsy's camp, Where the real effigy of midnight hags, With tawny smoked flesh and tattered rags, Uncouth-brimmed hat, and weather-beaten cloak, Neath the wild shelter of a knotty oak, Along the greensward uniformly pricks Her pliant bending hazel's arching sticks: While round-topt bush, or briar-entangled hedge, Where flag-leaves spring beneath, or ramping sedge, Keeps off the bothering bustle of the wind, And give the best retreat she hopes to find. How oft I've bent me oer her fire and smoke, To hear her gibberish tale so quaintly spoke, While the old Sybil forged her boding clack, Twin imps the meanwhile bawling at her back; Oft on my hand her magic coin's been struck, And hoping chink, she talked of morts of luck: And still, as boyish hopes did first agree, Mingled with fears to drop the fortune's fee, I never failed to gain the honours sought, And Squire and Lord were purchased with a groat. But as man's unbelieving taste came round, She furious stampt her shoeless foot aground, Wiped bye her soot-black hair with clenching fist, While through her yellow teeth the spittle hist, Swearing by all her lucky powers of fate, Which like as footboys on her actions wait, That fortune's scale should to my sorrow turn, And I one day the rash neglect should mourn; That good to bad should change, and I should be Lost to this world and all eternity; That poor as Job I should remain unblest:— (Alas, for fourpence how my die is cast!) Of not a hoarded farthing be possesst, And when all's done, be shoved to hell at last!
"Where art thou wandering, little child?" I said to one I met to-day.— She pushed her bonnet up and smiled, "I'm going upon the green to play: Folks tell me that the May's in flower, That cowslip-peeps are fit to pull, And I've got leave to spend an hour To get this little basket full."
—And thou'st got leave to spend an hour! My heart repeated.—She was gone; —And thou hast heard the thorn's in flower, And childhood's bliss is urging on: Ah, happy child! thou mak'st me sigh, This once as happy heart of mine, Would nature with the boon comply, How gladly would I change for thine.
The Wood-cutter's Night Song
Welcome, red and roundy sun, Dropping lowly in the west; Now my hard day's work is done, I'm as happy as the best.
Joyful are the thoughts of home, Now I'm ready for my chair, So, till morrow-morning's come, Bill and mittens, lie ye there!
Though to leave your pretty song, Little birds, it gives me pain, Yet to-morrow is not long, Then I'm with you all again.
If I stop, and stand about, Well I know how things will be, Judy will be looking out Every now-and-then for me.
So fare ye well! and hold your tongues, Sing no more until I come; They're not worthy of your songs That never care to drop a crumb.
All day long I love the oaks, But, at nights, yon little cot, Where I see the chimney smokes, Is by far the prettiest spot.
Wife and children all are there, To revive with pleasant looks, Table ready set, and chair, Supper hanging on the hooks.
Soon as ever I get in, When my faggot down I fling, Little prattlers they begin Teasing me to talk and sing.
Welcome, red and roundy sun, Dropping lowly in the west; Now my hard day's work is done, I'm as happy as the best.
Joyful are the thoughts of home, Now I'm ready for my chair, So, till morrow-morning's come, Bill and mittens, lie ye there!
Soon as the twilight through the distant mist In silver hemmings skirts the purple east, Ere yet the sun unveils his smiles to view And dries the morning's chilly robes of dew, Young Hodge the horse-boy, with a soodly gait, Slow climbs the stile, or opes the creaky gate, With willow switch and halter by his side Prepared for Dobbin, whom he means to ride; The only tune he knows still whistling oer, And humming scraps his father sung before, As "Wantley Dragon," and the "Magic Rose," The whole of music that his village knows, Which wild remembrance, in each little town, From mouth to mouth through ages handles down. Onward he jolls, nor can the minstrel-throngs Entice him once to listen to their songs; Nor marks he once a blossom on his way; A senseless lump of animated clay— With weather-beaten hat of rusty brown, Stranger to brinks, and often to a crown; With slop-frock suiting to the ploughman's taste, Its greasy skirtings twisted round his waist; And hardened high-lows clenched with nails around, Clamping defiance oer the stoney ground, The deadly foes to many a blossomed sprout That luckless meets him in his morning's rout. In hobbling speed he roams the pasture round, Till hunted Dobbin and the rest are found; Where some, from frequent meddlings of his whip, Well know their foe, and often try to slip; While Dobbin, tamed by age and labour, stands To meet all trouble from his brutish hands, And patient goes to gate or knowly brake, The teasing burden of his foe to take; Who, soon as mounted, with his switching weals, Puts Dob's best swiftness in his heavy heels, The toltering bustle of a blundering trot Which whips and cudgels neer increased a jot, Though better speed was urged by the clown— And thus he snorts and jostles to the town.
And now, when toil and summer's in its prime, In every vill, at morning's earliest time, To early-risers many a Hodge is seen, And many a Dob's heard clattering oer the green.
Now straying beams from day's unclosing eye In copper-coloured patches flush the sky, And from night's prison strugglingly encroach, To bring the summons of warm day's approach, Till, slowly mounting oer the ridge of clouds That yet half shows his face, and half enshrouds, The unfettered sun takes his unbounded reign And wakes all life to noise and toil again: And while his opening mellows oer the scenes Of wood and field their many mingling greens, Industry's bustling din once more devours The soothing peace of morning's early hours: The grunt of hogs freed from their nightly dens And constant cacklings of new-laying hens, And ducks and geese that clamorous joys repeat The splashing comforts of the pond to meet, And chirping sparrows dropping from the eaves For offal kernels that the poultry leaves, Oft signal-calls of danger chittering high At skulking cats and dogs approaching nigh. And lowing steers that hollow echoes wake Around the yard, their nightly fast to break, As from each barn the lumping flail rebounds In mingling concert with the rural sounds; While oer the distant fields more faintly creep The murmuring bleatings of unfolding sheep, And ploughman's callings that more hoarse proceed Where industry still urges labour's speed, The bellowing of cows with udders full That wait the welcome halloo of "come mull," And rumbling waggons deafening again, Rousing the dust along the narrow lane, And cracking whips, and shepherd's hooting cries, From woodland echoes urging sharp replies. Hodge, in his waggon, marks the wondrous tongue, And talks with echo as he drives along; Still cracks his whip, bawls every horse's name, And echo still as ready bawls the same: The puzzling mystery he would gladly cheat, And fain would utter what it can't repeat, Till speedless trials prove the doubted elf As skilled in noise and sounds as Hodge himself; And, quite convinced with the proofs it gives, The boy drives on and fancies echo lives, Like some wood-fiend that frights benighted men, The troubling spirit of a robber's den.
And now the blossom of the village view, With airy hat of straw, and apron blue, And short-sleeved gown, that half to guess reveals By fine-turned arms what beauty it conceals; Whose cheeks health flushes with as sweet a red As that which stripes the woodbine oer her head; Deeply she blushes on her morn's employ, To prove the fondness of some passing boy, Who, with a smile that thrills her soul to view, Holds the gate open till she passes through, While turning nods beck thanks for kindness done, And looks—if looks could speak-proclaim her won. With well-scoured buckets on proceeds the maid, And drives her cows to milk beneath the shade, Where scarce a sunbeam to molest her steals— Sweet as the thyme that blossoms where she kneels; And there oft scares the cooing amorous dove With her own favoured melodies of love. Snugly retired in yet dew-laden bowers, This sweetest specimen of rural flowers Displays, red glowing in the morning wind, The powers of health and nature when combined.
Last on the road the cowboy careless swings, Leading tamed cattle in their tending strings, With shining tin to keep his dinner warm Swung at his back, or tucked beneath his arm; Whose sun-burnt skin, and cheeks chuffed out with fat, Are dyed as rusty as his napless hat. And others, driving loose their herds at will, Are now heard whooping up the pasture-hill; Peeled sticks they bear of hazel or of ash, The rib-marked hides of restless cows to thrash. In sloven garb appears each bawling boy, As fit and suiting to his rude employ; His shoes, worn down by many blundering treads, Oft show the tenants needing safer sheds: The pithy bunch of unripe nuts to seek, And crabs sun-reddened with a tempting cheek, From pasture hedges, daily puts to rack His tattered clothes, that scarcely screen the back,— Daubed all about as if besmeared with blood, Stained with the berries of the brambly wood That stud the straggling briars as black as jet, Which, when his cattle lair, he runs to get; Or smaller kinds, as if beglossed with dew Shining dim-powdered with a downy blue, That on weak tendrils lowly creeping grow Where, choaked in flags and sedges, wandering slow, The brook purls simmering its declining tide Down the crooked boundings of the pasture-side. There they to hunt the luscious fruit delight, And dabbling keep within their charges' sight; Oft catching prickly struttles on their rout, And miller-thumbs and gudgeons driving out, Hid near the arched brig under many a stone That from its wall rude passing clowns have thrown. And while in peace cows eat, and chew their cuds, Moozing cool sheltered neath the skirting woods, To double uses they the hours convert, Turning the toils of labour into sport; Till morn's long streaking shadows lose their tails, And cooling winds swoon into faultering gales; And searching sunbeams warm and sultry creep, Waking the teazing insects from their sleep; And dreaded gadflies with their drowsy hum On the burnt wings of mid-day zephyrs come,— Urging each lown to leave his sports in fear, To stop his starting cows that dread the fly; Droning unwelcome tidings on his ear, That the sweet peace of rural morn's gone by.
One gloomy eve I roamed about Neath Oxey's hazel bowers, While timid hares were darting out, To crop the dewy flowers; And soothing was the scene to me, Right pleased was my soul, My breast was calm as summer's sea When waves forget to roll.
But short was even's placid smile, My startled soul to charm, When Nelly lightly skipt the stile, With milk-pail on her arm: One careless look on me she flung, As bright as parting day; And like a hawk from covert sprung, It pounced my peace away.
The Cross Roads; or, The Haymaker's Story
Stopt by the storm, that long in sullen black From the south-west stained its encroaching track, Haymakers, hustling from the rain to hide, Sought the grey willows by the pasture-side; And there, while big drops bow the grassy stems, And bleb the withering hay with pearly gems, Dimple the brook, and patter in the leaves, The song or tale an hour's restraint relieves. And while the old dames gossip at their ease, And pinch the snuff-box empty by degrees, The young ones join in love's delightful themes, Truths told by gipsies, and expounded dreams; And mutter things kept secrets from the rest, As sweethearts' names, and whom they love the best; And dazzling ribbons they delight to show, And last new favours of some veigling beau, Who with such treachery tries their hearts to move, And, like the highest, bribes the maidens' love. The old dames, jealous of their whispered praise, Throw in their hints of man's deluding ways; And one, to give her counsels more effect, And by example illustrate the fact Of innocence oercome by flattering man, Thrice tapped her box, and pinched, and thus began.
"Now wenches listen, and let lovers lie, Ye'll hear a story ye may profit by; I'm your age treble, with some oddments to't, And right from wrong can tell, if ye'll but do't: Ye need not giggle underneath your hat, Mine's no joke-matter, let me tell you that; So keep ye quiet till my story's told, And don't despise your betters cause they're old.
"That grave ye've heard of, where the four roads meet, Where walks the spirit in a winding-sheet, Oft seen at night, by strangers passing late, And tarrying neighbours that at market wait, Stalking along as white as driven snow, And long as one's shadow when the sun is low; The girl that's buried there I knew her well, And her whole history, if ye'll hark, can tell. Her name was Jane, and neighbour's children we, And old companions once, as ye may be; And like to you, on Sundays often strolled To gipsies' camps to have our fortunes told; And oft, God rest her, in the fortune-book Which we at hay-time in our pockets took, Our pins at blindfold on the wheel we stuck, When hers would always prick the worst of luck; For try, poor thing, as often as she might, Her point would always on the blank alight; Which plainly shows the fortune one's to have, As such like go unwedded to the grave,— And so it proved.—The next succeeding May, We both to service went from sports and play, Though in the village still; as friends and kin Thought neighbour's service better to begin. So out we went:—Jane's place was reckoned good, Though she bout life but little understood, And had a master wild as wild can be, And far unfit for such a child as she; And soon the whisper went about the town, That Jane's good looks procured her many a gown From him, whose promise was to every one, But whose intention was to wive with none. Twas nought to wonder, though begun by guess; For Jane was lovely in her Sunday dress, And all expected such a rosy face Would be her ruin—as was just the case. The while the change was easily perceived, Some months went by, ere I the tales believed; For there are people nowadays, Lord knows, Will sooner hatch up lies than mend their clothes; And when with such-like tattle they begin, Don't mind whose character they spoil a pin: But passing neighbours often marked them smile, And watched him take her milkpail oer a stile; And many a time, as wandering closer by, From Jenny's bosom met a heavy sigh; And often marked her, as discoursing deep, When doubts might rise to give just cause to weep, Smothering their notice, by a wished disguise To slive her apron corner to her eyes. Such signs were mournful and alarming things, And far more weighty than conjecture brings; Though foes made double what they heard of all, Swore lies as proofs, and prophesied her fall. Poor thoughtless wench! it seems but Sunday past Since we went out together for the last, And plain enough indeed it was to find She'd something more than common on her mind; For she was always fond and full of chat, In passing harmless jokes bout beaus and that, But nothing then was scarcely talked about, And what there was, I even forced it out. A gloomy wanness spoiled her rosy cheek, And doubts hung there it was not mine to seek; She neer so much as mentioned things to come, But sighed oer pleasures ere she left her home; And now and then a mournful smile would raise At freaks repeated of our younger days, Which I brought up, while passing spots of ground Where we, when children, "hurly-burlied" round, Or "blindman-buffed" some morts of hours away— Two games, poor thing, Jane dearly loved to play. She smiled at these, but shook her head and sighed When eer she thought my look was turned aside; Nor turned she round, as was her former way, To praise the thorn, white over then with May; Nor stooped once, though thousands round her grew, To pull a cowslip as she used to do: For Jane in flowers delighted from a child— I like the garden, but she loved the wild— And oft on Sundays young men's gifts declined, Posies from gardens of the sweetest kind, And eager scrambled the dog-rose to get, And woodbine-flowers at every bush she met. The cowslip blossom, with its ruddy streak, Would tempt her furlongs from the path to seek; And gay long purple, with its tufty spike, She'd wade oer shoes to reach it in the dyke; And oft, while scratching through the briary woods For tempting cuckoo-flowers and violet buds, Poor Jane, I've known her crying sneak to town, Fearing her mother, when she'd torn her gown. Ah, these were days her conscience viewed with pain, Which all are loth to lose, as well as Jane. And, what I took more odd than all the rest, Was, that same night she neer a wish exprest To see the gipsies, so beloved before, That lay a stone's throw from us on the moor: I hinted it; she just replied again— She once believed them, but had doubts since then. And when we sought our cows, I called, "Come mull!" But she stood silent, for her heart was full. She loved dumb things: and ere she had begun To milk, caressed them more than eer she'd done; But though her tears stood watering in her eye, I little took it as her last good-bye; For she was tender, and I've often known Her mourn when beetles have been trampled on: So I neer dreamed from this, what soon befell, Till the next morning rang her passing-bell. My story's long, but time's in plenty yet, Since the black clouds betoken nought but wet; And I'll een snatch a minute's breath or two, And take another pinch, to help me through.
"So, as I said, next morn I heard the bell, And passing neighbours crossed the street, to tell That my poor partner Jenny had been found In the old flag-pool, on the pasture, drowned. God knows my heart! I twittered like a leaf, And found too late the cause of Sunday's grief; For every tongue was loosed to gabble oer The slanderous things that secret passed before: With truth or lies they need not then be strict, The one they railed at could not contradict. Twas now no secret of her being beguiled, For every mouth knew Jenny died with child; And though more cautious with a living name, Each more than guessed her master bore the blame. That very morning, it affects me still, Ye know the foot-path sidles down the hill, Ignorant as babe unborn I passed the pond To milk as usual in our close beyond, And cows were drinking at the water's edge, And horses browsed among the flags and sedge, And gnats and midges danced the water oer, Just as I've marked them scores of times before, And birds sat singing, as in mornings gone,— While I as unconcerned went soodling on, But little dreaming, as the wakening wind Flapped the broad ash-leaves oer the pond reclin'd, And oer the water crinked the curdled wave, That Jane was sleeping in her watery grave. The neatherd boy that used to tend the cows, While getting whip-sticks from the dangling boughs Of osiers drooping by the water-side, Her bonnet floating on the top espied; He knew it well, and hastened fearful down To take the terror of his fears to town,—
A melancholy story, far too true; And soon the village to the pasture flew, Where, from the deepest hole the pond about, They dragged poor Jenny's lifeless body out, And took her home, where scarce an hour gone by She had been living like to you and I. I went with more, and kissed her for the last, And thought with tears on pleasures that were past; And, the last kindness left me then to do, I went, at milking, where the blossoms grew, And handfuls got of rose and lambtoe sweet, And put them with her in her winding-sheet. A wilful murder, jury made the crime; Nor parson 'lowed to pray, nor bell to chime; On the cross roads, far from her friends and kin, The usual law for their ungodly sin Who violent hands upon themselves have laid, Poor Jane's last bed unchristian-like was made; And there, like all whose last thoughts turn to heaven, She sleeps, and doubtless hoped to be forgiven. But, though I say't, for maids thus veigled in I think the wicked men deserve the sin; And sure enough we all at last shall see The treachery punished as it ought to be. For ere his wickedness pretended love, Jane, I'll be bound, was spotless as the dove, And's good a servant, still old folks allow, As ever scoured a pail or milked a cow; And ere he led her into ruin's way, As gay and buxom as a summer's day: The birds that ranted in the hedge-row boughs, As night and morning we have sought our cows, With yokes and buckets as she bounced along, Were often deafed to silence with her song.
But now she's gone:—girls, shun deceitful men, The worst of stumbles ye can fall agen; Be deaf to them, and then, as twere, ye'll see Your pleasures safe as under lock and key. Throw not my words away, as many do; They're gold in value, though they're cheap to you. And husseys hearken, and be warned from this, If ye love mothers, never do amiss: Jane might love hers, but she forsook the plan To make her happy, when she thought of man. Poor tottering dame, it was too plainly known, Her daughter's dying hastened on her own, For from the day the tidings reached her door She took to bed and looked up no more, And, ere again another year came round, She, well as Jane, was laid within the ground; And all were grieved poor Goody's end to see: No better neighbour entered house than she, A harmless soul, with no abusive tongue, Trig as new pins, and tight's the day was long; And go the week about, nine times in ten Ye'd find her house as cleanly as her sen. But, Lord protect us! time such change does bring, We cannot dream what oer our heads may hing; The very house she lived in, stick and stone, Since Goody died, has tumbled down and gone: And where the marjoram once, and sage, and rue, And balm, and mint, with curled-leaf parsley grew, And double marygolds, and silver thyme, And pumpkins neath the window used to climb; And where I often when a child for hours Tried through the pales to get the tempting flowers, As lady's laces, everlasting peas, True-love-lies-bleeding, with the hearts-at-ease, And golden rods, and tansy running high That oer the pale-tops smiled on passers-by, Flowers in my time that every one would praise, Though thrown like weeds from gardens nowadays; Where these all grew, now henbane stinks and spreads, And docks and thistles shake their seedy heads, And yearly keep with nettles smothering oer;— The house, the dame, the garden known no more: While, neighbouring nigh, one lonely elder-tree Is all that's left of what had used to be, Marking the place, and bringing up with tears The recollections of one's younger years. And now I've done, ye're each at once as free To take your trundle as ye used to be; To take right ways, as Jenny should have ta'en, Or headlong run, and be a second Jane; For by one thoughtless girl that's acted ill A thousand may be guided if they will: As oft mong folks to labour bustling on, We mark the foremost kick against a stone, Or stumble oer a stile he meant to climb, While hind ones see and shun the fall in time. But ye, I will be bound, like far the best Love's tickling nick-nacks and the laughing jest, And ten times sooner than be warned by me, Would each be sitting on some fellow's knee, Sooner believe the lies wild chaps will tell Than old dames' cautions, who would wish ye well: So have your wills."—She pinched her box again, And ceased her tale, and listened to the rain, Which still as usual pattered fast around, And bowed the bent-head loaded to the ground; While larks, their naked nest by force forsook, Pruned their wet wings in bushes by the brook.
The maids, impatient now old Goody ceased, As restless children from the school released, Right gladly proving, what she'd just foretold, That young ones' stories were preferred to old, Turn to the whisperings of their former joy, That oft deceive, but very rarely cloy.
How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs, Upon an ashen stoven pillowing me; Faintly are heard the ploughmen at their ploughs, But not an eye can find its way to see. The sunbeams scarce molest me with a smile, So thickly the leafy armies gather round; And where they do, the breeze blows cool the while, Their leafy shadows dancing on the ground. Full many a flower, too, wishing to be seen, Perks up its head the hiding grass between,— In mid-wood silence, thus, how sweet to be; Where all the noises, that on peace intrude, Come from the chittering cricket, bird, and bee, Whose songs have charms to sweeten solitude.
What wonder strikes the curious, while he views The black ant's city, by a rotten tree, Or woodland bank! In ignorance we muse: Pausing, annoyed,—we know not what we see, Such government and thought there seem to be; Some looking on, and urging some to toil, Dragging their loads of bent-stalks slavishly: And what's more wonderful, when big loads foil One ant or two to carry, quickly then A swarm flock round to help their fellow-men. Surely they speak a language whisperingly, Too fine for us to hear; and sure their ways Prove they have kings and laws, and that they be Deformed remnants of the Fairy-days.
To Anna Three Years Old
My Anna, summer laughs in mirth, And we will of the party be, And leave the crickets in the hearth For green fields' merry minstrelsy.
I see thee now with little hand Catch at each object passing bye, The happiest thing in all the land Except the bee and butterfly.
* * * * *
And limpid brook that leaps along, Gilt with the summer's burnished gleam, Will stop thy little tale or song To gaze upon its crimping stream.
Thou'lt leave my hand with eager speed The new discovered things to see— The old pond with its water weed And danger-daring willow tree, Who leans an ancient invalid Oer spots where deepest waters be.
In sudden shout and wild surprise I hear thy simple wonderment, As new things meet thy childish eyes And wake some innocent intent;
As bird or bee or butterfly Bounds through the crowd of merry leaves And starts the rapture of thine eye To run for what it neer achieves.
But thou art on the bed of pain, So tells each poor forsaken toy. Ah, could I see that happy hour When these shall be thy heart's employ, And see thee toddle oer the plain, And stoop for flowers, and shout for joy.
From "The Parish: A Satire"
In politics and politicians' lies The modern farmer waxes wondrous wise; Opinionates with wisdom all compact, And een could tell a nation how to act; Throws light on darkness with excessive skill, Knows who acts well and whose designs are ill, Proves half the members nought but bribery's tools, And calls the past a dull dark age of fools.
As wise as Solomon they read the news, Not with their blind forefathers' simple views, Who read of wars, and wished that wars would cease, And blessed the King, and wished his country peace; Who marked the weight of each fat sheep and ox, The price of grain and rise and fall of stocks; Who thought it learning how to buy and sell, And him a wise man who could manage well. No, not with such old-fashioned, idle views Do these newsmongers traffic with the news. They read of politics and not of grain, And speechify and comment and explain, And know so much of Parliament and state You'd think they're members when you heard them prate; And know so little of their farms the while They can but urge a wiser man to smile.
A thing all consequence here takes the lead, Reigning knight-errant oer this dirty breed— A bailiff he, and who so great to brag Of law and all its terrors as Bumtagg; Fawning a puppy at his master's side And frowning like a wolf on all beside; Who fattens best where sorrow worst appears And feeds on sad misfortune's bitterest tears? Such is Bumtagg the bailiff to a hair, The worshipper and demon of despair, Who waits and hopes and wishes for success At every nod and signal of distress, Happy at heart, when storms begin to boil, To seek the shipwreck and to share the spoil. Brave is this Bumtagg, match him if you can; For there's none like him living—save his man.
As every animal assists his kind Just so are these in blood and business joined; Yet both in different colours hide their art, And each as suits his ends transacts his part. One keeps the heart-bred villain full in sight, The other cants and acts the hypocrite, Smoothing the deed where law sharks set their gin Like a coy dog to draw misfortune in. But both will chuckle oer their prisoners' sighs And are as blest as spiders over flies. Such is Bumtagg, whose history I resign, As other knaves wait room to stink and shine; And, as the meanest knave a dog can brag, Such is the lurcher that assists Bumtagg.
Nobody Cometh to Woo
On Martinmas eve the dogs did bark, And I opened the window to see, When every maiden went by with her spark But neer a one came to me. And O dear what will become of me? And O dear what shall I do, When nobody whispers to marry me— Nobody cometh to woo?
None's born for such troubles as I be: If the sun wakens first in the morn "Lazy hussy" my parents both call me, And I must abide by their scorn, For nobody cometh to marry me, Nobody cometh to woo, So here in distress must I tarry me— What can a poor maiden do?
If I sigh through the window when Jerry The ploughman goes by, I grow bold; And if I'm disposed to be merry, My parents do nothing but scold; And Jerry the clown, and no other, Eer cometh to marry or woo; They think me the moral of mother And judge me a terrible shrew.
For mother she hateth all fellows, And spinning's my father's desire, While the old cat growls bass with the bellows If eer I hitch up to the fire. I make the whole house out of humour, I wish nothing else but to please, Would fortune but bring a new comer To marry, and make me at ease!
When I've nothing my leisure to hinder I scarce get as far as the eaves; Her head's instant out of the window Calling out like a press after thieves. The young men all fall to remarking, And laugh till they're weary to see't, While the dogs at the noise begin barking, And I slink in with shame from the street.
My mother's aye jealous of loving, My father's aye jealous of play, So what with them both there's no moving, I'm in durance for life and a day. O who shall I get for to marry me? Who will have pity to woo? Tis death any longer to tarry me, And what shall a poor maiden do?
What is there in those distant hills My fancy longs to see, That many a mood of joy instils? Say what can fancy be?
Do old oaks thicken all the woods, With weeds and brakes as here? Does common water make the floods, That's common everywhere?
Is grass the green that clothes the ground? Are springs the common springs? Daisies and cowslips dropping round, Are such the flowers she brings?
* * * * *
Are cottages of mud and stone, By valley wood and glen, And their calm dwellers little known Men, and but common men,
That drive afield with carts and ploughs? Such men are common here, And pastoral maidens milking cows Are dwelling everywhere.
If so my fancy idly clings To notions far away, And longs to roam for common things All round her every day,
Right idle would the journey be To leave one's home so far, And see the moon I now can see And every little star.
And have they there a night and day, And common counted hours? And do they see so far away This very moon of ours?
* * * * *
I mark him climb above the trees With one small [comrade] star, And think me in my reveries— He cannot shine so far.
* * * * *
The poets in the tales they tell And with their happy powers Have made lands where their fancies dwell Seem better lands than ours.
Why need I sigh far hills to see If grass is their array, While here the little paths go through The greenest every day?
Such fancies fill the restless mind, At once to cheat and cheer With thought and semblance undefined, Nowhere and everywhere.
MIDDLE PERIOD 1824-1836
When trouble haunts me, need I sigh? No, rather smile away despair; For those have been more sad than I, With burthens more than I could bear; Aye, gone rejoicing under care Where I had sunk in black despair.
When pain disturbs my peace and rest, Am I a hopeless grief to keep, When some have slept on torture's breast And smiled as in the sweetest sleep, Aye, peace on thorns, in faith forgiven, And pillowed on the hope of heaven?
Though low and poor and broken down, Am I to think myself distrest? No, rather laugh where others frown And think my being truly blest; For others I can daily see More worthy riches worse than me.
Aye, once a stranger blest the earth Who never caused a heart to mourn, Whose very voice gave sorrow mirth— And how did earth his worth return? It spurned him from its lowliest lot, The meanest station owned him not;
An outcast thrown in sorrow's way, A fugitive that knew no sin, Yet in lone places forced to stray— Men would not take the stranger in. Yet peace, though much himself he mourned, Was all to others he returned.
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His presence was a peace to all, He bade the sorrowful rejoice. Pain turned to pleasure at his call, Health lived and issued from his voice. He healed the sick and sent abroad The dumb rejoicing in the Lord.
The blind met daylight in his eye, The joys of everlasting day; The sick found health in his reply; The cripple threw his crutch away. Yet he with troubles did remain And suffered poverty and pain.
Yet none could say of wrong he did, And scorn was ever standing bye; Accusers by their conscience chid, When proof was sought, made no reply. Yet without sin he suffered more Than ever sinners did before.
What is song's eternity? Come and see. Can it noise and bustle be? Come and see. Praises sung or praises said Can it be? Wait awhile and these are dead— Sigh, sigh; Be they high or lowly bred They die.
What is song's eternity? Come and see. Melodies of earth and sky, Here they be. Song once sung to Adam's ears Can it be? Ballads of six thousand years Thrive, thrive; Songs awaken with the spheres Alive.
Mighty songs that miss decay, What are they? Crowds and cities pass away Like a day. Books are out and books are read; What are they? Years will lay them with the dead— Sigh, sigh; Trifles unto nothing wed, They die.
Dreamers, mark the honey bee; Mark the tree Where the blue cap "tootle tee" Sings a glee Sung to Adam and to Eve Here they be. When floods covered every bough, Noah's ark Heard that ballad singing now; Hark, hark,
"Tootle tootle tootle tee"— Can it be Pride and fame must shadows be? Come and see— Every season own her own; Bird and bee Sing creation's music on; Nature's glee Is in every mood and tone Eternity.
The Old Cottagers
The little cottage stood alone, the pride Of solitude surrounded every side. Bean fields in blossom almost reached the wall; A garden with its hawthorn hedge was all The space between.—Green light did pass Through one small window, where a looking-glass Placed in the parlour, richly there revealed A spacious landscape and a blooming field. The pasture cows that herded on the moor Printed their footsteps to the very door, Where little summer flowers with seasons blow And scarcely gave the eldern leave to grow. The cuckoo that one listens far away Sung in the orchard trees for half the day; And where the robin lives, the village guest, In the old weedy hedge the leafy nest Of the coy nightingale was yearly found, Safe from all eyes as in the loneliest ground; And little chats that in bean stalks will lie A nest with cobwebs there will build, and fly Upon the kidney bean that twines and towers Up little poles in wreaths of scarlet flowers.
There a lone couple lived, secluded there From all the world considers joy or care, Lived to themselves, a long lone journey trod, And through their Bible talked aloud to God; While one small close and cow their wants maintained, But little needing, and but little gained. Their neighbour's name was peace, with her they went, With tottering age, and dignified content, Through a rich length of years and quiet days, And filled the neighbouring village with their praise.
The spring is coming by a many signs; The trays are up, the hedges broken down, That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines Like some old antique fragment weathered brown. And where suns peep, in every sheltered place, The little early buttercups unfold A glittering star or two—till many trace The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold. And then a little lamb bolts up behind The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe, And then another, sheltered from the wind, Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go Close bye and never stirs but baking lies, With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.
When first we hear the shy-come nightingales, They seem to mutter oer their songs in fear, And, climb we eer so soft the spinney rails, All stops as if no bird was anywhere. The kindled bushes with the young leaves thin Let curious eyes to search a long way in, Until impatience cannot see or hear The hidden music; gets but little way Upon the path—when up the songs begin, Full loud a moment and then low again. But when a day or two confirms her stay Boldly she sings and loud for half the day; And soon the village brings the woodman's tale Of having heard the newcome nightingale.
The holly bush, a sober lump of green, Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown and grey, And smiles at winter be it eer so keen With all the leafy luxury of May. And O it is delicious, when the day In winter's loaded garment keenly blows And turns her back on sudden falling snows, To go where gravel pathways creep between Arches of evergreen that scarce let through A single feather of the driving storm; And in the bitterest day that ever blew The walk will find some places still and warm Where dead leaves rustle sweet and give alarm To little birds that flirt and start away.
Home furthest off grows dearer from the way; And when the army in the Indias lay Friends' letters coming from his native place Were like old neighbours with their country face. And every opportunity that came Opened the sheet to gaze upon the name Of that loved village where he left his sheep For more contented peaceful folk to keep; And friendly faces absent many a year Would from such letters in his mind appear. And when his pockets, chafing through the case, Wore it quite out ere others took the place, Right loath to be of company bereft He kept the fragments while a bit was left.
Here morning in the ploughman's songs is met Ere yet one footstep shows in all the sky, And twilight in the east, a doubt as yet, Shows not her sleeve of grey to know her bye. Woke early, I arose and thought that first In winter time of all the world was I. The old owls might have hallooed if they durst, But joy just then was up and whistled bye A merry tune which I had known full long, But could not to my memory wake it back, Until the ploughman changed it to the song. O happiness, how simple is thy track. —Tinged like the willow shoots, the east's young brow Glows red and finds thee singing at the plough.
Where slanting banks are always with the sun The daisy is in blossom even now; And where warm patches by the hedges run The cottager when coming home from plough Brings home a cowslip root in flower to set. Thus ere the Christmas goes the spring is met Setting up little tents about the fields In sheltered spots.—Primroses when they get Behind the wood's old roots, where ivy shields Their crimpled, curdled leaves, will shine and hide. Cart ruts and horses' footings scarcely yield A slur for boys, just crizzled and that's all. Frost shoots his needles by the small dyke side, And snow in scarce a feather's seen to fall.
Letter in Verse
Like boys that run behind the loaded wain For the mere joy of riding back again, When summer from the meadow carts the hay And school hours leave them half a day to play; So I with leisure on three sides a sheet Of foolscap dance with poesy's measured feet, Just to ride post upon the wings of time And kill a care, to friendship turned in rhyme. The muse's gallop hurries me in sport With much to read and little to divert, And I, amused, with less of wit than will, Run till I tire.—And so to cheat her still. Like children running races who shall be First in to touch the orchard wall or tree, The last half way behind, by distance vext, Turns short, determined to be first the next; So now the muse has run me hard and long— I'll leave at once her races and her song; And, turning round, laugh at the letter's close And beat her out by ending it in prose.
What a night! The wind howls, hisses, and but stops To howl more loud, while the snow volley keeps Incessant batter at the window pane, Making our comfort feel as sweet again; And in the morning, when the tempest drops, At every cottage door mountainous heaps Of snow lie drifted, that all entrance stops Untill the beesom and the shovel gain The path, and leave a wall on either side. The shepherd rambling valleys white and wide With new sensations his old memory fills, When hedges left at night, no more descried, Are turned to one white sweep of curving hills, And trees turned bushes half their bodies hide.
The boy that goes to fodder with surprise Walks oer the gate he opened yesternight. The hedges all have vanished from his eyes; Een some tree tops the sheep could reach to bite. The novel scene emboldens new delight, And, though with cautious steps his sports begin, He bolder shuffles the huge hills of snow, Till down he drops and plunges to the chin, And struggles much and oft escape to win— Then turns and laughs but dare not further go; For deep the grass and bushes lie below, Where little birds that soon at eve went in With heads tucked in their wings now pine for day And little feel boys oer their heads can stray.
The fir trees taper into twigs and wear The rich blue green of summer all the year, Softening the roughest tempest almost calm And offering shelter ever still and warm To the small path that towels underneath, Where loudest winds—almost as summer's breath— Scarce fan the weed that lingers green below When others out of doors are lost in frost and snow. And sweet the music trembles on the ear As the wind suthers through each tiny spear, Makeshifts for leaves; and yet, so rich they show, Winter is almost summer where they grow.
Grasshoppers go in many a thumming spring And now to stalks of tasseled sow-grass cling, That shakes and swees awhile, but still keeps straight; While arching oxeye doubles with his weight. Next on the cat-tail-grass with farther bound He springs, that bends until they touch the ground.
The beams in blossom with their spots of jet Smelt sweet as gardens wheresoever met; The level meadow grass was in the swath; The hedge briar rose hung right across the path, White over with its flowers—the grass that lay Bleaching beneath the twittering heat to hay Smelt so deliciously, the puzzled bee Went wondering where the honey sweets could be; And passer-bye along the level rows Stoopt down and whipt a bit beneath his nose.
Dear brother robin this comes from us all With our kind love and could Gip write and all Though but a dog he'd have his love to spare For still he knows and by your corner chair The moment he comes in he lyes him down and seems to fancy you are in the town. This leaves us well in health thank God for that For old acquaintance Sue has kept your hat Which mother brushes ere she lays it bye and every sunday goes upstairs to cry Jane still is yours till you come back agen and neer so much as dances with the men and ned the woodman every week comes in and asks about you kindly as our kin and he with this and goody Thompson sends Remembrances with those of all our friends Father with us sends love untill he hears and mother she has nothing but her tears Yet wishes you like us in health the same and longs to see a letter with your name So loving brother don't forget to write Old Gip lies on the hearth stone every night Mother can't bear to turn him out of doors and never noises now of dirty floors Father will laugh but lets her have her way and Gip for kindness get a double pay So Robin write and let us quickly see You don't forget old friends no more than we Nor let my mother have so much to blame To go three journeys ere your letter came.
Supper removed, the mother sits, And tells her tales by starts and fits. Not willing to lose time or toil, She knits or sews, and talks the while Something, that may be warnings found To the young listeners gaping round— Of boys who in her early day Strolled to the meadow-lake to play, Where willows, oer the bank inclined Sheltered the water from the wind, And left it scarcely crizzled oer— When one sank in, to rise no more! And how, upon a market-night, When not a star bestowed its light, A farmer's shepherd, oer his glass, Forgot that he had woods to pass: And having sold his master's sheep, Was overta'en by darkness deep. How, coming with his startled horse, To where two roads a hollow cross; Where, lone guide when a stranger strays, A white post points four different ways, Beside the woodride's lonely gate A murdering robber lay in wait. The frightened horse, with broken rein, Stood at the stable-door again; But none came home to fill his rack, Or take the saddle from his back; The saddle—it was all he bore— The man was seen alive no more!— In her young days, beside the wood, The gibbet in its terror stood: Though now decayed, tis not forgot, But dreaded as a haunted spot.—
She from her memory oft repeats Witches' dread powers and fairy feats: How one has oft been known to prance In cowcribs, like a coach, to France, And ride on sheep-trays from the fold A race-horse speed to Burton-hold; To join the midnight mystery's rout, Where witches meet the yews about: And how, when met with unawares, They turn at once to cats or hares, And race along with hellish flight, Now here, now there, now out of sight!— And how the other tiny things Will leave their moonlight meadow-rings, And, unperceived, through key-holes creep, When all around have sunk to sleep, To feast on what the cotter leaves,— Mice are not reckoned greater thieves. They take away, as well as eat, And still the housewife's eye they cheat, In spite of all the folks that swarm In cottage small and larger farm; They through each key-hole pop and pop, Like wasps into a grocer's shop, With all the things that they can win From chance to put their plunder in;— As shells of walnuts, split in two By crows, who with the kernels flew; Or acorn-cups, by stock-doves plucked, Or egg-shells by a cuckoo sucked; With broad leaves of the sycamore They clothe their stolen dainties oer: And when in cellar they regale, Bring hazel-nuts to hold their ale; With bung-holes bored by squirrels well, To get the kernel from the shell; Or maggots a way out to win, When all is gone that grew within; And be the key-holes eer so high, Rush poles a ladder's help supply. Where soft the climbers fearless tread, On spindles made of spiders' thread. And foul, or fair, or dark the night, Their wild-fire lamps are burning bright: For which full many a daring crime Is acted in the summer-time;— When glow-worm found in lanes remote Is murdered for its shining coat, And put in flowers, that nature weaves With hollow shapes and silken leaves, Such as the Canterbury bell, Serving for lamp or lantern well; Or, following with unwearied watch The flight of one they cannot match, As silence sliveth upon sleep, Or thieves by dozing watch-dogs creep, They steal from Jack-a-Lantern's tails A light, whose guidance never fails To aid them in the darkest night And guide their plundering steps aright. Rattling away in printless tracks, Some, housed on beetles' glossy backs, Go whisking on—and others hie As fast as loaded moths can fly: Some urge, the morning cock to shun, The hardest gallop mice can run, In chariots, lolling at their ease, Made of whateer their fancies please;— Things that in childhood's memory dwell— Scooped crow-pot-stone, or cockle-shell, With wheels at hand of mallow seeds, Where childish sport was stringing beads; And thus equipped, they softly pass Like shadows on the summer-grass, And glide away in troops together Just as the Spring-wind drives a feather. As light as happy dreams they creep, Nor break the feeblest link of sleep: A midge, if in their road a-bed, Feels not the wheels run oer his head, But sleeps till sunrise calls him up, Unconscious of the passing troop,—
Thus dame the winter-night regales With wonder's never-ceasing tales; While in a corner, ill at ease, Or crushing tween their father's knees, The children—silent all the while— And een repressed the laugh or smile— Quake with the ague chills of fear, And tremble though they love to hear; Starting, while they the tales recall, At their own shadows on the wall: Till the old clock, that strikes unseen Behind the picture-pasted screen Where Eve and Adam still agree To rob Life's fatal apple-tree, Counts over bed-time's hour of rest, And bids each be sleep's fearful guest. She then her half-told tales will leave To finish on to-morrow's eve;— The children steal away to bed, And up the ladder softly tread; Scarce daring—from their fearful joys— To look behind or make a noise; Nor speak a word! but still as sleep They secret to their pillows creep, And whisper oer, in terror's way, The prayers they dare no louder say; Then hide their heads beneath the clothes, And try in vain to seek repose: While yet, to fancy's sleepless eye, Witches on sheep-trays gallop by, And fairies, like a rising spark, Swarm twittering round them in the dark; Till sleep creeps nigh to ease their cares, And drops upon them unawares.
The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon; And, if the sun looks through, tis with a face Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon, When done the journey of her nightly race, Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place. For days the shepherds in the fields may be, Nor mark a patch of sky—blindfold they trace, The plains, that seem without a bush or tree, Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.
The timid hare seems half its fears to lose, Crouching and sleeping neath its grassy lair, And scarcely startles, though the shepherd goes Close by its home, and dogs are barking there; The wild colt only turns around to stare At passer by, then knaps his hide again; And moody crows beside the road forbear To fly, though pelted by the passing swain; Thus day seems turned to night, and tries to wake in vain.
The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon, And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light; The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon, And small birds chirp and startle with affright; Much doth it scare the superstitious wight, Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay; While cow-boys think the day a dream of night, And oft grow fearful on their lonely way, Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.
Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings Its murky prison round—then winds wake loud; With sudden stir the startled forest sings Winter's returning song-cloud races cloud. And the horizon throws away its shroud, Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye; Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd, And oer the sameness of the purple sky Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.
At length it comes among the forest oaks, With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high; The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks, And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly, While the blue hawk hangs oer them in the sky.— The hedger hastens from the storm begun, To seek a shelter that may keep him dry; And foresters low bent, the wind to shun, Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher's muttering gun.
The ploughman hears its humming rage begin, And hies for shelter from his naked toil; Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin, He bends and scampers oer the elting soil, While clouds above him in wild fury boil, And winds drive heavily the beating rain; He turns his back to catch his breath awhile, Then ekes his speed and faces it again, To seek the shepherd's hut beside the rushy plain.
The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat The melancholy crow—in hurry weaves, Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat, Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves, Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves. There he doth dithering sit, and entertain His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves; Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta'en, And wishing in his heart twas summer-time again.
Thus wears the month along, in checkered moods, Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms; One hour dies silent oer the sleepy woods, The next wakes loud with unexpected storms; A dreary nakedness the field deforms— Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight, Lives in the village still about the farms, Where toil's rude uproar hums from morn till night Noises, in which the ears of industry delight.
At length the stir of rural labour's still, And industry her care awhile foregoes; When winter comes in earnest to fulfil His yearly task, at bleak November's close, And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows; When frost locks up the stream in chill delay And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes, For little birds—then toil hath time for play, And nought but threshers' flails awake the dreary day.
Wandering by the river's edge, I love to rustle through the sedge And through the woods of reed to tear Almost as high as bushes are. Yet, turning quick with shudder chill, As danger ever does from ill, Fear's moment ague quakes the blood, While plop the snake coils in the flood And, hissing with a forked tongue, Across the river winds along. In coat of orange, green, and blue Now on a willow branch I view, Grey waving to the sunny gleam, Kingfishers watch the ripple stream For little fish that nimble bye And in the gravel shallows lie.
Eddies run before the boats, Gurgling where the fisher floats, Who takes advantage of the gale And hoists his handkerchief for sail On osier twigs that form a mast— While idly lies, nor wanted more, The spirit that pushed him on before.
There's not a hill in all the view, Save that a forked cloud or two Upon the verge of distance lies And into mountains cheats the eyes. And as to trees the willows wear Lopped heads as high as bushes are; Some taller things the distance shrouds That may be trees or stacks or clouds Or may be nothing; still they wear A semblance where there's nought to spare.
Among the tawny tasselled reed The ducks and ducklings float and feed. With head oft dabbing in the flood They fish all day the weedy mud, And tumbler-like are bobbing there, Heels topsy turvy in the air.
The geese in troops come droving up, Nibble the weeds, and take a sup; And, closely puzzled to agree, Chatter like gossips over tea. The gander with his scarlet nose When strife's at height will interpose; And, stretching neck to that and this, With now a mutter, now a hiss, A nibble at the feathers too, A sort of "pray be quiet do," And turning as the matter mends, He stills them into mutual friends; Then in a sort of triumph sings And throws the water oer his wings.
Ah, could I see a spinney nigh, A puddock riding in the sky Above the oaks with easy sail On stilly wings and forked tail, Or meet a heath of furze in flower, I might enjoy a quiet hour, Sit down at rest, and walk at ease, And find a many things to please. But here my fancy's moods admire The naked levels till they tire, Nor een a molehill cushion meet To rest on when I want a seat.
Here's little save the river scene And grounds of oats in rustling green And crowded growth of wheat and beans, That with the hope of plenty leans And cheers the farmer's gazing brow, Who lives and triumphs in the plough— One sometimes meets a pleasant sward Of swarthy grass; and quickly marred The plough soon turns it into brown, And, when again one rambles down The path, small hillocks burning lie And smoke beneath a burning sky. Green paddocks have but little charms With gain the merchandise of farms; And, muse and marvel where we may, Gain mars the landscape every day— The meadow grass turned up and copt, The trees to stumpy dotterels lopt, The hearth with fuel to supply For rest to smoke and chatter bye; Giving the joy of home delights, The warmest mirth on coldest nights. And so for gain, that joy's repay, Change cheats the landscape every day, Nor trees nor bush about it grows That from the hatchet can repose, And the horizon stooping smiles Oer treeless fens of many miles. Spring comes and goes and comes again And all is nakedness and fen.
Where the broad sheepwalk bare and brown [Yields] scant grass pining after showers, And winds go fanning up and down The little strawy bents and nodding flowers, There the huge thistle, spurred with many thorns, The suncrackt upland's russet swells adorns.
Not undevoid of beauty there they come, Armed warriors, waiting neither suns nor showers, Guarding the little clover plots to bloom While sheep nor oxen dare not crop their flowers Unsheathing their own knobs of tawny flowers When summer cometh in her hottest hours.
The pewit, swopping up and down And screaming round the passer bye, Or running oer the herbage brown With copple crown uplifted high, Loves in its clumps to make a home Where danger seldom cares to come.
The yellowhammer, often prest For spot to build and be unseen, Will in its shelter trust her nest When fields and meadows glow with green; And larks, though paths go closely bye, Will in its shade securely lie.
The partridge too, that scarce can trust The open downs to be at rest, Will in its clumps lie down, and dust And prune its horseshoe-circled breast, And oft in shining fields of green Will lay and raise its brood unseen.
The sheep when hunger presses sore May nip the clover round its nest; But soon the thistle wounding sore Relieves it from each brushing guest, That leaves a bit of wool behind, The yellowhammer loves to find.
The horse will set his foot and bite Close to the ground lark's guarded nest And snort to meet the prickly sight; He fans the feathers of her breast— Yet thistles prick so deep that he Turns back and leaves her dwelling free.
Its prickly knobs the dews of morn Doth bead with dressing rich to see, When threads doth hang from thorn to thorn Like the small spinner's tapestry; And from the flowers a sultry smell Comes that agrees with summer well.
The bee will make its bloom a bed, The humble bee in tawny brown; And one in jacket fringed with red Will rest upon its velvet down When overtaken in the rain, And wait till sunshine comes again.
And there are times when travel goes Along the sheep tracks' beaten ways, Then pleasure many a praise bestows Upon its blossoms' pointed rays, When other things are parched beside And hot day leaves it in its pride.
I would not wish the burning blaze Of fame around a restless world, The thunder and the storm of praise In crowded tumults heard and hurled. I would not be a flower to stand The stare of every passer-bye; But in some nook of fairyland, Seen in the praise of beauty's eye.
O take this world away from me; Its strife I cannot bear to see, Its very praises hurt me more Than een its coldness did before, Its hollow ways torment me now And start a cold sweat on my brow, Its noise I cannot bear to hear, Its joy is trouble to my ear, Its ways I cannot bear to see, Its crowds are solitudes to me. O, how I long to be agen That poor and independent man, With labour's lot from morn to night And books to read at candle light; That followed labour in the field From light to dark when toil could yield Real happiness with little gain, Rich thoughtless health unknown to pain: Though, leaning on my spade to rest, I've thought how richer folks were blest And knew not quiet was the best.
Go with your tauntings, go; Neer think to hurt me so; I'll scoff at your disdain. Cold though the winter blow, When hills are free from snow It will be spring again.
So go, and fare thee well, Nor think ye'll have to tell Of wounded hearts from me, Locked up in your hearts cell. Mine still at home doth dwell In its first liberty.
Bees sip not at one flower, Spring comes not with one shower, Nor shines the sun alone Upon one favoured hour, But with unstinted power Makes every day his own.
And for my freedom's sake With such I'll pattern take, And rove and revel on. Your gall shall never make Me honied paths forsake; So prythee get thee gone.
And when my toil is blest And I find a maid possest Of truth that's not in thee, Like bird that finds its nest I'll stop and take my rest; And love as she loves me.
Farewell and Defiance to Love
Love and thy vain employs, away From this too oft deluded breast! No longer will I court thy stay, To be my bosom's teazing guest. Thou treacherous medicine, reckoned pure, Thou quackery of the harassed heart, That kills what it pretends to cure, Life's mountebank thou art.
With nostrums vain of boasted powers, That, ta'en, a worse disorder leave; An asp hid in a group of flowers, That bites and stings when few perceive; Thou mock-truce to the troubled mind, Leading it more in sorrow's way, Freedom, that leaves us more confined, I bid thee hence away.
Dost taunt, and deem thy power beyond The resolution reason gave? Tut! Falsity hath snapt each bond, That kept me once thy quiet slave, And made thy snare a spider's thread, Which een my breath can break in twain; Nor will I be, like Sampson, led To trust thy wiles again.
I took thee as my staff to guide Me on the road I did pursue, And when my weakness most relied Upon its strength it broke in two. I took thee as my friendly host That counsel might in dangers show, But when I needed thee the most I found thou wert my foe.
Tempt me no more with rosy cheeks, Nor daze my reason with bright eyes; I'm wearied with thy painted freaks, And sicken at such vanities: Be roses fine as eer they will, They, with the meanest, fade and die, And eyes, though thronged with darts to kill, Share like mortality. Feed the young bard, that madly sips His nectar-draughts from folly's flowers, Bright eyes, fair cheeks, and ruby lips, Till muses melt to honey showers; Lure him to thrum thy empty lays, While flattery listens to the chimes, Till words themselves grow sick with praise And stop for want of rhymes.
Let such be still thy paramours, And chaunt love's old and idle tune, Robbing the spring of all its flowers, And heaven of all her stars and moon, To gild with dazzling similes Blind folly's vain and empty lay: I'm sobered from such phantasies, So get thee hence away.
Nor bid me sigh for mine own cost, Nor count its loss, for mine annoy, Nor say my stubbornness hath lost A paradise of dainty joy: I'll not believe thee, till I know That sober reason turns an ape, And acts the harlequin, to show That cares in every shape,
Heart-achings, sighs, and grief-wrung tears, Shame-blushes at betrayed distress, Dissembled smiles, and jealous fears, Are nought but real happiness: Then will I mourn what now I brave, And suffer Celia's quirks to be (Like a poor fate-bewilder'd slave,) The rulers of my destiny.
I'll weep and sigh wheneer she wills To frown, and when she deigns to smile It shall be cure for all my ills, And, foolish still, I'll laugh the while; But till that comes, I'll bless the rules Experience taught, and deem it wise To hold thee as the game of fools, And all thy tricks despise.
To John Milton
"From his honoured friend, William Davenant"
Poet of mighty power, I fain Would court the muse that honoured thee, And, like Elisha's spirit, gain A part of thy intensity; And share the mantle which she flung Around thee, when thy lyre was strung.
Though faction's scorn at first did shun With coldness thy inspired song, Though clouds of malice passed thy sun, They could not hide it long; Its brightness soon exhaled away Dank night, and gained eternal day.
The critics' wrath did darkly frown Upon thy muse's mighty lay; But blasts that break the blossom down Do only stir the bay; And thine shall flourish, green and long, With the eternity of song.
Thy genius saw, in quiet mood, Gilt fashion's follies pass thee by, And, like the monarch of the wood, Towered oer it to the sky, Where thou couldst sing of other spheres, And feel the fame of future years.
Though bitter sneers and stinging scorns Did throng the muse's dangerous way, Thy powers were past such little thorns, They gave thee no dismay; The scoffer's insult passed thee by, Thou smild'st and mad'st him no reply.
Envy will gnaw its heart away To see thy genius gather root; And as its flowers their sweets display Scorn's malice shall be mute; Hornets that summer warmed to fly, Shall at the death of summer die.
Though friendly praise hath but its hour. And little praise with thee hath been; The bay may lose its summer flower, But still its leaves are green; And thine, whose buds are on the shoot, Shall only fade to change to fruit.
Fame lives not in the breath of words, In public praises' hue and cry; The music of these summer birds Is silent in a winter sky, When thine shall live and flourish on, Oer wrecks where crowds of fames are gone.
The ivy shuns the city wall, When busy clamorous crowds intrude, And climbs the desolated hall In silent solitude; The time-worn arch, the fallen dome, Are roots for its eternal home.
The bard his glory neer receives Where summer's common flowers are seen, But winter finds it when she leaves The laurel only green; And time from that eternal tree, Shall weave a wreath to honour thee;
A sunny wreath for poets meet, From Helicon's immortal soil, Where sacred Time with pilgrim feet Walks forth to worship, not to spoil, A wreath which Fame creates and bears, And deathless genius only heirs.
Nought but thy ashes shall expire; Thy genius, at thy obsequies, Shall kindle up its living fire And light the muse's skies; Ay, it shall rise, and shine, and be A sun in song's posterity.
The Vanities of Life
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.—Solomon
What are life's joys and gains? What pleasures crowd its ways, That man should take such pains To seek them all his days? Sift this untoward strife On which thy mind is bent: See if this chaff of life Is worth the trouble spent.
Is pride thy heart's desire? Is power thy climbing aim? Is love thy folly's fire? Is wealth thy restless game? Pride, power, love, wealth, and all Time's touchstone shall destroy, And, like base coin, prove all Vain substitutes for joy.
Dost think that pride exalts Thyself in other's eyes, And hides thy folly's faults, Which reason will despise? Dost strut, and turn, and stride, Like walking weathercocks? The shadow by thy side Becomes thy ape, and mocks.
Dost think that power's disguise Can make thee mighty seem? It may in folly's eyes, But not in worth's esteem, When all that thou canst ask, And all that she can give, Is but a paltry mask Which tyrants wear and live.
Go, let thy fancies range And ramble where they may; View power in every change, And what is the display? —The country magistrate, The meanest shade in power, To rulers of the state, The meteors of an hour.
View all, and mark the end Of every proud extreme, Where flattery turns a friend, And counterfeits esteem; Where worth is aped in show, That doth her name purloin, Like toys of golden glow That's sold for copper coin.
Ambition's haughty nod With fancies may deceive, Nay, tell thee thou'rt a god, And wilt thou such believe? Go, bid the seas be dry; Go, hold earth like a ball, Or throw thy fancies by, For God can do it all.
Dost thou possess the dower Of laws to spare or kill? Call it not heavenly power When but a tyrant's will. Know what a God will do, And know thyself a fool, Nor, tyrant-like, pursue Where He alone should rule.
O put away thy pride, Or be ashamed of power That cannot turn aside The breeze that waves a flower. Or bid the clouds be still: Though shadows, they can brave Thy poor power mocking will: Then make not man a slave.
Dost think, when wealth is won, Thy heart has its desire? Hold ice up to the sun, And wax before the fire; Nor triumph oer the reign Which they so soon resign; In this world's ways they gain, Insurance safe as thine.
Dost think life's peace secure In house and in land? Go, read the fairy lure To twist a cord in sand; Lodge stones upon the sky, Hold water in a sieve, Nor give such tales the lie, And still thine own believe.
Whoso with riches deals, And thinks peace bought and sold, Will find them slipping eels, That slide the firmest hold: Though sweet as sleep with health Thy lulling luck may be, Pride may oerstride thy wealth, And check prosperity.
Dost think that beauty's power Life sweetest pleasure gives? Go, pluck the summer flower, And see how long it lives: Behold, the rays glide on Along the summer plain Ere thou canst say "they're gone," And measure beauty's reign.
Look on the brightest eye, Nor teach it to be proud; View but the clearest sky, And thou shalt find a cloud; Nor call each face ye meet An angel's, cause it's fair, But look beneath your feet, And think of what they are.
Who thinks that love doth live In beauty's tempting show, Shall find his hopes ungive, And melt in reason's thaw. Who thinks that pleasure lies In every fairy bower, Shall oft, to his surprise, Find poison in the flower.
Dost lawless passions grasp? Judge not thou deal'st in joy: Its flowers but hide the asp, Thy revels to destroy. Who trusts an harlot's smile, And by her wiles are led, Plays, with a sword the while Hung dropping oer his head.
Dost doubt my warning song? Then doubt the sun gives light, Doubt truth to teach thee wrong, And wrong alone as right; And live as lives the knave, Intrigue's deceiving guest; Be tyrant, or be slave, As suits thy ends the best.
Or pause amid thy toils For visions won and lost, And count the fancied spoils, If eer they quit the cost: And if they still possess Thy mind, as worthy things, Plat straws with bedlam Bess, And call them diamond rings.
Thy folly's past advice, Thy heart's already won, Thy fall's above all price, So go, and be undone; For all who thus prefer The seeming great for small Shall make wine vinegar, And sweetest honey gall.
Wouldst heed the truths I sing, To profit wherewithal, Clip folly's wanton wing, And keep her within call. I've little else to give, What thou canst easy try; The lesson how to live Is but to learn to die.
Why should man's high aspiring mind Burn in him with so proud a breath, When all his haughty views can find In this world yields to death? The fair, the brave, the vain, the wise, The rich, the poor, the great, and small, Are each but worm's anatomies To strew his quiet hall.
Power may make many earthly gods, Where gold and bribery's guilt prevails, But death's unwelcome, honest odds Kick o'er the unequal scales. The flattered great may clamours raise Of power, and their own weakness hide, But death shall find unlooked-for ways To end the farce of pride,
An arrow hurtled eer so high, From een a giant's sinewy strength, In Time's untraced eternity Goes but a pigmy length; Nay, whirring from the tortured string, With all its pomp of hurried flight, Tis by the skylark's little wing Outmeasured in its height.
Just so man's boasted strength and power Shall fade before death's lightest stroke, Laid lower than the meanest flower, Whose pride oer-topt the oak; And he who, like a blighting blast, Dispeopled worlds with war's alarms Shall be himself destroyed at last By poor despised worms.
Tyrants in vain their powers secure, And awe slaves' murmurs with a frown, For unawed death at last is sure To sap the babels down. A stone thrown upward to the sky Will quickly meet the ground agen; So men-gods of earth's vanity Shall drop at last to men;
And Power and Pomp their all resign, Blood-purchased thrones and banquet halls. Fate waits to sack Ambition's shrine As bare as prison walls, Where the poor suffering wretch bows down To laws a lawless power hath passed; And pride, and power, and king, and clown Shall be Death's slaves at last.
Time, the prime minister of Death! There's nought can bribe his honest will. He stops the richest tyrant's breath And lays his mischief still. Each wicked scheme for power all stops, With grandeurs false and mock display, As eve's shades from high mountain tops Fade with the rest away.
Death levels all things in his march; Nought can resist his mighty strength; The palace proud, triumphal arch, Shall mete its shadow's length. The rich, the poor, one common bed Shall find in the unhonoured grave, Where weeds shall crown alike the head Of tyrant and of slave.
The Fallen Elm
Old elm, that murmured in our chimney top The sweetest anthem autumn ever made And into mellow whispering calms would drop When showers fell on thy many coloured shade And when dark tempests mimic thunder made— While darkness came as it would strangle light With the black tempest of a winter night That rocked thee like a cradle in thy root— How did I love to hear the winds upbraid Thy strength without—while all within was mute. It seasoned comfort to our hearts' desire, We felt thy kind protection like a friend And edged our chairs up closer to the fire, Enjoying comfort that was never penned. Old favourite tree, thou'st seen time's changes lower, Though change till now did never injure thee; For time beheld thee as her sacred dower And nature claimed thee her domestic tree. Storms came and shook thee many a weary hour, Yet stedfast to thy home thy roots have been; Summers of thirst parched round thy homely bower Till earth grew iron—still thy leaves were green. The children sought thee in thy summer shade And made their playhouse rings of stick and stone; The mavis sang and felt himself alone While in thy leaves his early nest was made. And I did feel his happiness mine own, Nought heeding that our friendship was betrayed, Friend not inanimate—though stocks and stones There are, and many formed of flesh and bones. Thou owned a language by which hearts are stirred Deeper than by a feeling clothed in word, And speakest now what's known of every tongue, Language of pity and the force of wrong. What cant assumes, what hypocrites will dare, Speaks home to truth and shows it what they are. I see a picture which thy fate displays And learn a lesson from thy destiny; Self-interest saw thee stand in freedom's ways— So thy old shadow must a tyrant be. Tnou'st heard the knave, abusing those in power, Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free; Thou'st sheltered hypocrites in many a shower, That when in power would never shelter thee. Thou'st heard the knave supply his canting powers With wrong's illusions when he wanted friends; That bawled for shelter when he lived in showers And when clouds vanished made thy shade amends— With axe at root he felled thee to the ground And barked of freedom—O I hate the sound Time hears its visions speak,—and age sublime Hath made thee a disciple unto time. —It grows the cant term of enslaving tools To wrong another by the name of right; Thus came enclosure—ruin was its guide, But freedom's cottage soon was thrust aside And workhouse prisons raised upon the site. Een nature's dwellings far away from men, The common heath, became the spoiler's prey; The rabbit had not where to make his den And labour's only cow was drove away. No matter—wrong was right and right was wrong, And freedom's bawl was sanction to the song. —Such was thy ruin, music-making elm; The right of freedom was to injure thine: As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm In freedom's name the little that is mine. And there are knaves that brawl for better laws And cant of tyranny in stronger power Who glut their vile unsatiated maws And freedom's birthright from the weak devour.
Sport in the Meadows
Maytime is to the meadows coming in, And cowslip peeps have gotten eer so big, And water blobs and all their golden kin Crowd round the shallows by the striding brig. Daisies and buttercups and ladysmocks Are all abouten shining here and there, Nodding about their gold and yellow locks Like morts of folken flocking at a fair. The sheep and cows are crowding for a share And snatch the blossoms in such eager haste That basket-bearing children running there Do think within their hearts they'll get them all And hoot and drive them from their graceless waste As though there wa'n't a cowslip peep to spare. —For they want some for tea and some for wine And some to maken up a cuckaball To throw across the garland's silken line That reaches oer the street from wall to wall. —Good gracious me, how merrily they fare: One sees a fairer cowslip than the rest, And off they shout—the foremost bidding fair To get the prize—and earnest half and jest The next one pops her down—and from her hand Her basket falls and out her cowslips all Tumble and litter there—the merry band In laughing friendship round about her fall To helpen gather up the littered flowers That she no loss may mourn. And now the wind In frolic mood among the merry hours Wakens with sudden start and tosses off Some untied bonnet on its dancing wings; Away they follow with a scream and laugh, And aye the youngest ever lags behind, Till on the deep lake's very bank it hings. They shout and catch it and then off they start And chase for cowslips merry as before, And each one seems so anxious at the heart As they would even get them all and more. One climbs a molehill for a bunch of may, One stands on tiptoe for a linnet's nest And pricks her hand and throws her flowers away And runs for plantin leaves to have it drest. So do they run abouten all the day And teaze the grass-hid larks from getting rest. —Scarce give they time in their unruly haste To tie a shoestring that the grass unties— And thus they run the meadows' bloom to waste, Till even comes and dulls their phantasies, When one finds losses out to stifle smiles Of silken bonnet-strings—and utters sigh Oer garments renten clambering over stiles. Yet in the morning fresh afield they hie, Bidding the last day's troubles all goodbye; When red pied cow again their coming hears, And ere they clap the gate she tosses up Her head and hastens from the sport she fears: The old yoe calls her lamb nor cares to stoop To crop a cowslip in their company. Thus merrily the little noisy troop Along the grass as rude marauders hie, For ever noisy and for ever gay While keeping in the meadows holiday.
The winds and waters are in his command, Held as a courser in the rider's hand. He lets them loose, they triumph at his will: He checks their course and all is calm and still. Life's hopes waste all to nothingness away As showers at night wash out the steps of day.
* * * * *
The tyrant, in his lawless power deterred, Bows before death, tame as a broken sword. One dyeth in his strength and, torn from ease, Groans in death pangs like tempests in the trees. Another from the bitterness of clay Falls calm as storms drop on an autumn day, With noiseless speed as swift as summer light Death slays and keeps her weapons out of sight.
The tyrants that do act the God in clay And for earth's glories throw the heavens away, Whose breath in power did like to thunder sear, When anger hurried on the heels of fear, Whose rage planned hosts of murders at a breath— Here in sound silence sheath their rage in death.
Their feet, that crushed down freedom to its grave And felt the very earth they trod a slave, How quiet here they lie in death's cold arms Without the power to crush the feeble worms Who spite of all the dreadful fears they made Creep there to conquer and are not afraid.
Syren of sullen moods and fading hues, Yet haply not incapable of joy, Sweet Autumn! I thee hail With welcome all unfeigned;
And oft as morning from her lattice peeps To beckon up the sun, I seek with thee To drink the dewy breath Of fields left fragrant then,
In solitudes, where no frequented paths But what thy own foot makes betray thy home, Stealing obtrusive there To meditate thy end:
By overshadowed ponds, in woody nooks, With ramping sallows lined, and crowding sedge, Which woo the winds to play, And with them dance for joy;
And meadow pools, torn wide by lawless floods, Where water-lilies spread their oily leaves, On which, as wont, the fly Oft battens in the sun;
Where leans the mossy willow half way oer, On which the shepherd crawls astride to throw His angle, clear of weeds That crowd the water's brim;
Or crispy hills, and hollows scant of sward, Where step by step the patient lonely boy Hath cut rude flights of stairs To climb their steepy sides;
Then track along their feet, grown hoarse with noise, The crawling brook, that ekes its weary speed, And struggles through the weeds With faint and sullen brawl.
These haunts I long have favoured, more as now With thee thus wandering, moralizing on, Stealing glad thoughts from grief, And happy, though I sigh.
Sweet Vision, with the wild dishevelled hair, And raiment shadowy of each wind's embrace, Fain would I win thine harp To one accordant theme;
Now not inaptly craved, communing thus, Beneath the curdled arms of this stunt oak, While pillowed on the grass, We fondly ruminate
Oer the disordered scenes of woods and fields, Ploughed lands, thin travelled with half-hungry sheep, Pastures tracked deep with cows, Where small birds seek for seed:
Marking the cow-boy that so merry trills His frequent, unpremeditated song, Wooing the winds to pause, Till echo brawls again;
As on with plashy step, and clouted shoon, He roves, half indolent and self-employed, To rob the little birds Of hips and pendent haws,
And sloes, dim covered as with dewy veils, And rambling bramble-berries, pulp and sweet, Arching their prickly trails Half oer the narrow lane:
Noting the hedger front with stubborn face The dank blea wind, that whistles thinly by His leathern garb, thorn proof, And cheek red hot with toil.
While oer the pleachy lands of mellow brown, The mower's stubbling scythe clogs to his foot The ever eking whisp, With sharp and sudden jerk,
Till into formal rows the russet shocks Crowd the blank field to thatch time-weathered barns, And hovels rude repair, Stript by disturbing winds.
See! from the rustling scythe the haunted hare Scampers circuitous, with startled ears Prickt up, then squat, as bye She brushes to the woods,
Where reeded grass, breast-high and undisturbed, Forms pleasant clumps, through which the soothing winds Soften her rigid fears, And lull to calm repose.
Wild sorceress! me thy restless mood delights, More than the stir of summer's crowded scenes, Where, jostled in the din, Joy palled my ear with song;
Heart-sickening for the silence that is thine, Not broken inharmoniously, as now That lone and vagrant bee Booms faint with wearp chime.
Now filtering winds thin winnow through the woods In tremulous noise, that bids, at every breath, Some sickly cankered leaf Let go its hold, and die.
And now the bickering storm, with sudden start, In flirting fits of anger carps aloud, Thee urging to thine end, Sore wept by troubled skies.
And yet, sublime in grief, thy thoughts delight To show me visions of most gorgeous dyes, Haply forgetting now They but prepare thy shroud;
Thy pencil dashing its excess of shades, Improvident of waste, till every bough Burns with thy mellow touch Disorderly divine.
Soon must I view thee as a pleasant dream Droop faintly, and so sicken for thine end, As sad the winds sink low In dirges for their queen;
While in the moment of their weary pause, To cheer thy bankrupt pomp, the willing lark Starts from his shielding clod, Snatching sweet scraps of song.
Thy life is waning now, and silence tries To mourn, but meets no sympathy in sounds. As stooping low she bends, Forming with leaves thy grave;
To sleep inglorious there mid tangled woods, Till parch-lipped summer pines in drought away, Then from thine ivied trance Awake to glories new.
Now swarthy summer, by rude health embrowned, Precedence takes of rosy fingered spring; And laughing joy, with wild flowers pranked and crowned, A wild and giddy thing, And health robust, from every care unbound, Come on the zephyr's wing, And cheer the toiling clown.
Happy as holiday-enjoying face, Loud tongued, and "merry as a marriage bell," Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place; And where the troubled dwell, Thy witching smiles wean them of half their cares; And from thy sunny spell, They greet joy unawares.
Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude, And mantle laced with gems of garish light, Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude, And in the world's despite, Share the rude mirth that thy own heart beguiles: If haply so I might Win pleasure from thy smiles,
Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers, In nightly revels or in city streets; But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears, That one at leisure meets In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn, Or fields, where bee-fly greets The ears with mellow horn.
The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe, Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks; There bees go courting every flower that's ripe, On baulks and sunny banks; And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon, Attempts to give God thanks In no discordant tune.
There speckled thrush, by self-delight embued, There sings unto himself for joy's amends, And drinks the honey dew of solitude. There happiness attends With inbred joy until the heart oerflow, Of which the world's rude friends, Nought heeding, nothing know.
There the gay river, laughing as it goes, Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides, And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows What pleasure there abides, To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free: Spots solitude provides To muse, and happy be.
There ruminating neath some pleasant bush, On sweet silk grass I stretch me at mine ease, Where I can pillow on the yielding rush; And, acting as I please, Drop into pleasant dreams; or musing lie, Mark the wind-shaken trees, And cloud-betravelled sky.
And think me how some barter joy for care, And waste life's summer-health in riot rude, Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware; Where passions vain and rude By calm reflection, softened are and still; And the heart's better mood Feels sick of doing ill.
There I can live, and at my leisure seek Joys far from cold restraints—not fearing pride— Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek Rude health, so long denied. Here poor integrity can sit at ease, And list self-satisfied The song of honey-bees;
And green lane traverse heedless where it goes Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies Rude battered finger post, that stooping shows Where the snug mystery lies; And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown, Clears up the short surprise, And shows a peeping town.
I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours; The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn, Agape for honey showers; And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew Of morning's early hours, Like gold yminted new;