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Hears Winter, calling all his terrors round,
Rush down the living rocks with whirlwind sound.
Through Nature's vale his homely pleasures glide,
Unstained by envy, discontent, and pride;
The bound of all his vanity, to deck,
With one bright bell, a favourite Heifer's neck;
Well pleased upon some simple annual feast,
Remembered half the year and hoped the rest,
If dairy produce from his inner hoard
Of thrice ten summers consecrate the board.
-Alas! in every clime a flying ray
Is all we have to cheer our wintry way
"Here," cried a thoughtful Swain, upon whose head
The "blossoms of the grave" were thinly spread,
Last night, while by his dying fire, as closed
The day, in luxury my limbs reposed,
"Here Penury oft from Misery's mount will guide
Even to the summer door his icy tide,
And here the avalanche of Death destroy
The little cottage of domestic joy.
But, ah! the unwilling mind may more than trace
The general sorrows of the human race:
The churlish gales, that unremitting blow
Cold from necessity's continual snow,
To us the gentle groups of bliss deny
That on the noon-day bank of leisure lie.
Yet more;-compelled by Powers which only deign
That solitary man disturb their reign,
Powers that support a never-ceasing strife
With all the tender charities of life,
The father, as his sons of strength become
To pay the filial debt, for food to roam,
From his bare nest amid the storms of heaven
Drives, eagle-like, those sons as he was driven;
His last dread pleasure watches to the plain-
And never, eagle-like, beholds again!"
When the poor heart has all its joys resigned, Why does their sad remembrance cleave behind? Lo! where through flat Batavia's willowy groves, Or by the lazy Seine, the exile roves; Soft o'er the waters mournful measures swell, Unlocking tender thought's "memorial cell;" Past pleasures are transformed to mortal pains, While poison spreads along the listener's veins, Poison, which not a frame of steel can brave, Bows his young head with sorrow to the grave.*
Gay lark of hope, thy silent song resume! Fair smiling lights the purpled hills illume! Soft gales and dews of life's delicious morn, And thou, lost fragrance of the heart, return! Soon flies the little joy to man allowed, And grief before him travels like a cloud; For come Diseases on, and Penury's rage, Labour, and Care, and Pain, and dismal Age,
The effect of the famous air, called in French Ranz des Vaches upon the Swiss troops.
Till, Hope-deserted, long in vain his breath Implores the dreadful untried sleep of Death. -'Mid savage rocks, and seas of snow that shine Between interminable tracts of pine,
A Temple stands, which holds an awful shrine,
By an uncertain light revealed, that falls
On the mute Image and the troubled walls:
Pale, dreadful faces round the Shrine appear,
Abortive Joy, and Hope that works in fear;
While strives a secret Power to hush the crowd,
Pain's wild rebellious burst proclaims her rights aloud
Oh! give me not that eye of hard disdain
That views undimmed Ensiedlen'st wretched fane.
'Mid muttering prayers all sounds of torment meet,
Dire clap of hands, distracted chafe of feet;
While, loud and dull, ascends the weeping cry,
Surely in other thoughts contempt may die.
If the sad grave of human ignorance bear
One flower of hope-oh, pass and leave it there!
-The tall Sun, tiptoe on an Alpine spire,
Flings o'er the wilderness a stream of fire;
Now let us meet the pilgrims, ere the day
Close on the remnant of their weary way;
While they are drawing towards the sacred floor
Where the charmed worm of pain shall gnaw no more
How gaily murmur and how sweetly taste
The fountains reared for them amid the waste!
There some with tearful kiss each other greet,
And some, with reverence, wash their toil-worn feet.
Yes, I will see you when ye first behold
Those holy turrets tipped with evening gold,
In that glad moment when the hands are prest
In mute devotion on the thankful breast.
Last let us turn to where Chamoùny◊ shields With rocks and gloomy woods her fertile fields: Five streams of ice amid her cots descend, And with wild flowers and blooming orchards blend ;A scene more fair than what the Grecian feigns Of purple lights and ever-vernal plains; Here lawns and shades by breezy rivulets fanned, Here all the Seasons revel hand in hand. -Red stream the cottage-lights; the landscape fades, Erroneous wavering 'mid the twilight shades. Alone ascends that Hill of matchless height||, That holds no commerce with the summer Night; From age to age, amid his lonely bounds The crash of ruin fitfully resounds;
This shrine is resorted to, from a hope of relief, by multitudes, from every corner of the Catholic world, labouring under mental or bodily afflictions.
Rude fountains built and covered with sheds for the accommodation of the Pilgrims, in their ascent of the mountain.
This word is pronounced upon the spot Chàmouny: I have taken the liberty of changing the accent.
It is only from the higher part of the valley of Châmoun .hat Mont Blanc is visible.
Beloved Freedom! were it mine to stray,
With shrill winds roaring round my lonely way,
O'er the bleak sides of Cumbria's heath-clad moors,
Or where dank sea-weed lashes Scotland's shores;
To scent the sweets of Piedmont's breathing rose,
And orange gale that o'er Lugano blows;
In the wide range of many a varied round,
Fleet as my passage was, I still have found
That where despotic courts their gems display,
The lillies of domestic joy decay,
While the remotest hamlets blessings share,
In thy dear presence known, and only there!
The casement's shed more luscious woodbine binds,
And to the door a neater pathway winds;
At early morn, the careful housewife, led
To cull her dinner from its garden bed,
Of weedless herbs a healthier prospect sees,
While hum with busier joy her happy bees;
In brighter rows her table wealth aspires,
And laugh with merrier blaze her evening fires;
Her infants' cheeks with fresher roses glow,
And wilder graces sport around their brow;
By clearer taper lit, a cleanlier board
Receives at supper hour her tempting hoard;
The chamber hearth with fresher boughs is spread,
And whiter is the hospitable bed.
And oh, fair France! though now along the shade, Where erst at will the gray-clad peasant strayed, Gleam war's discordant vestments through the trees, And the red banner fluctuates in the breeze; Though martial songs have banished songs of love, And nightingales forsake the village grove, Scared by the fife and rumbling drum's alarms, And the short thunder, and the flash of arms; While, as Night bids the startling uproar die, Sole sound, the Sourd* renews his mournful cry! -Yet, hast thou found that Freedom spreads her power
Beyond the cottage hearth, the cottage door :
All nature smiles, and owns beneath her eyea
Her fields peculiar, and peculiar skies.
Yes, as I roamed where Loiret's waters glide
Through rustling aspens heard from side to side,
* An insect is so called, which emits a short, melancholy cry, heard at the close of the summer evenings, on the banks of the Loire.
When from October clouds a milder light
Fell, where the blue flood rippled into white,
Methought from every cot the watchful bird
Crowed with ear-piercing power till then unheard;
Each clacking mill, that broke the murmuring streaing,
Rocked the charmed thought in more delightful
Chasing those long, long dreams, the falling leaf
Awoke a fainter pang of moral grief;
The measured echo of the distant flail
Wound in more welcome cadence down the vale;
A more majestic tidef the water rolled,
And glowed the sun-gilt groves in richer gold.
-Though Liberty shall soon, indignant, raise
Red on the hills his beacon's comet blaze;
Bid from on high his lonely cannon sound,
And on ten thousand hearths his shout rebound;
His larum-bell from village tower to tower
Swing on the astounded ear its dull undying roar;
Yet, yet rejoice, though Pride's perverted ire
Rouse Hell's own aid, and wrap thy hills in fire!
Lo! from the innocuous flames, a lovely birth,
With its own Virtues springs another earth:
Nature, as in her prime, her virgin reign
Begins, and Love and Truth compose her train;
While, with a pulseless hand, and steadfast gaze,
Unbreathing Justice her still beam surveys.
Oh give, great God, to Freedom's waves to ride Sublime o'er Conquest, Avarice, and Pride, To sweep where Pleasure decks her guilty bowers, And dark Oppression builds her thick-ribbed towers Give them, beneath their breast while gladness springs,
To brood the nations o'er with Nile-like wings;
And grant that every sceptred Child of clay,
Who cries, presumptuous, "Here their tides shall stay,"
Swept in their anger from the affrighted shore,
With all his creatures sink-to rise no more!
To-night, my friend, within this humble cot
Be the dead load of mortal ills forgot
In timely sleep; and, when at break of day,
On the tall peaks the glistening sunbeams play
With lighter heart our course we may renew,
The first whose footsteps print the mountain dew.
†The duties upon many parts of the French rivers were ac exorbitant, that the poorer people, deprived of the benefit of water carriage were obliged to transport their goods by land.
WRITTEN IN VERY EARLY YOUTH.
CALM is all nature as a resting wheel.
The kine are couched upon the dewy grass;
The horse alone, seen dimly as I pass,
Is cropping audibly his later meal:
Dark is the ground; a slumber seems to steal
O'er vale, and mountain, and the starless sky.
Now, in this blank of things, a harmony
Homefelt, and home created, seems to heal
That grief for which the senses still supply
Fresh food; for only then, when memory
Is hushed, am I at rest. My Friends! restrain
Those busy cares that would allay my pain;
Oh! leave me to myself, nor let me feel
The officious touch that makes me droop again.
How richly glows the water's breast
Before us, tinged with evening hues,
While, facing thus the crimson west,
The boat her silent course pursues!
And see how dark the backward stream!
A little moment passed so smiling!
And still, perhaps, with faithless gleam,
Some other loiterers beguiling.
Such views the youthful bard allure;
But, heedless of the following gloom,
He dreams their colours shall endure
Till peace go with him to the tomb.
-And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow!
Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?
COMPOSED UPON THE THAMES NEAR RICHMOND.
GLIDE gently, thus for ever glide,
O Thames! that other bards may see
NAY, Traveller! rest. This lonely Yew-tree stands WRITTEN WHILE SAILING IN A BOAT AT EVENING. Far from all human dwelling; what if here
As lovely visions by thy side
'As now, fair river! come to me.
O glide, fair stream! for ever so,
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
Till all our minds for ever flow
As thy deep waters now are flowing.
Such as did once the Poet bless, Who murmuring here a later ditty, Could find no refuge from distress But in the milder grief of pity.
Vain thought!-Yet be as now thou art,
That in thy waters may be seen
The image of a poet's heart,
How bright, how solemn, how serene!
Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.
No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb? What if the bee love not these barren boughs? Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves, That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
-Who he was
That piled these stones, and with the mossy sod
First covered, and here taught this aged Tree
With its dark arms to form a circling bower,
I well remember. He was one who owned
No common soul. In youth by science nursed,
And led by nature into a wild scene
Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth
A favoured Being, knowing no desire
Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint
Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate,
And scorn, against all enemies prepared,
All but neglect. The world, for so it thought,
Owed him no service; wherefore he at once
With indignation turned himself away,
And with the food of pride sustained his soul
In solitude. Stranger! these gloomy boughs
Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit,
His only visitants a straggling sheep,
The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper:
And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath,
And juniper and thistle, sprinkled o'er,
Fixing his downcast eye, he many an hour
*Collins's Ode on the Death of Thomson, the last written, I believe, of the poems which were published during his lifetime. This Ode is also alluded to in the next stanza.
[ Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore
When Thames in summer wreaths is drest, And oft suspend the dashing oar,
To bid his gentle spirit rest!"
A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here
An emblem of his own unfruitful life:
And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze
On the more distant scene,-how lovely 'tis
Thou seest, and he would gaze till it became
Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain
The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time,
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Would he forget those Beings to whose minds,
Warm from the labours of benevolence,
The world and human life appeared a scene
Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh,
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
What he must never feel: and so, lost Man!
On visionary views would fancy feed,
Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale
He died, this seat his only monument.
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
Of young imagination have kept pure
A TRAVELLER on the skirt of Sarum's Plain
Pursued his vagrant way, with feet half bare,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride, Stooping his gait, but not as if to gain
Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he who feels contempt
For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
Is ever on himself doth look on one,
The least of Nature's works, one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,
In lowliness of heart.
The gathering clouds grew red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
That inn he long had passed; the distant spire,
Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye,
Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank sky.
Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around,
PREFIXED TO THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS poem, published in 1842. And scarce could any trace of man descry,
INCIDENTS UPON SALISBURY PLAIN.
sistible arms of Great Britain being added to those of the allies, . was assured in my own mind would be of long continuance, and productive of distress and misery beyond all possible calculation This conviction was pressed upon me by having been a witness, during a long residence in revolutionary France, of the spirit which prevailed in that country. After leaving the Isle of Wight, I spent two days in wandering on foot over Salisbury Plain, which, though cultivation was then widely spread through parts of it, had upon the whole a still more impressive appearance than it now retains.
The monuments and traces of antiquity, scattered in abundance over that region, led me unavoidably to compare what we know ot guess of those remote times with certain aspects of modern society, and with calamities, principally those consequent upon war, te which, more than other classes of men, the poor are subject. In those reflections, joined with particular facts that had come to my knowledge, the following stanzas originated.
In conclusion, to obviate some distraction in the minds of those who are well acquainted with Salisbury Plain, it may be proper to say, that of the features described as belonging to it, one or two are taken from other desolate parts of England.
NOT less than one-third of the following poem, though it has from time to time been altered in the expression, was published so far back as the year 1798, under the title of "The Female Vagrant." The extract is of such length that an apology seems to be required for reprinting it here: but it was necessary to restore it to its original position, or the rest would have been unintelligible. The whole was written before the close of the year 1794, and I will detail, rather as matter of literary biography than for any other reason, the circumstances under which it was produced.
During the latter part of the summer of 1793, having passed a month in the Isle of Wight, in view of the fleet which was then preparing for sea off Portsmouth at the commencement of the war, I left the place with melancholy forebodings. The American war was still fresh in memory. The struggle which was beginning, and which many thought would be brought to a speedy close by the irre
Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air
Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn with care
Both of the time to come, and time long fled.
Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair;
A coat he wore of military red,
But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch and shred
While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
That welcome in such house for him was nonc.
No board inscribed the needy to allure
Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor
And desolate, "Here you will find a friend!"
The pendent grapes glittered above the door;—
On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend,
Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines extend.
Save cornfields stretched and stretching without bound;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.
No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green,
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be near;
And so he sent a feeble shout-in vain;
No voice made answer, he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain,
Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurrowed plain,
Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn
And rest; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne.
Thus warned he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head,
But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn,
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread;
The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his only bed.
And be it so for to the chill night shower
And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared;
A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour
Hath told; for, landing after labour hard,
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
He to an armed fleet was forced away
Vain hope for fraud took all that he had earned.
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood
Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned,
Bears not to those he loves their needful food.
His home approaching, but in such a mood
That from his sight his children might have run,
He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood;
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to shun.
From that day forth no place to him could be,
So lonely, but that thence might come a pang
Brought from without to inward misery.
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang
A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
A human body that in irons swang,
Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.*
By seamen, who perhaps themselves had shared
Hurtle the clouds in deeper darkness piled,
Like fate; was hurried off, a helpless prey,
Gone is the raven timely rest to seek;
'Gainst all that in his heart, or theirs perhaps, said nay. On whom the elements their rage might wreak;
He seemed the only creature in the wild
It was a spectacle which none might view,
In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain;
Nor only did for him at once renew
All he had feared from man, but roused a train
Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
The stones, as if to cover him from day,
Rolled at his back along the living plam,
He fell, and without sense or motion lay;
But, when the trance was gone, feebly pursued his way.
As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires
Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed
Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost,
Left his mind still as a deep evening stream.
Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed,
Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem
To traveller who might talk of any casual thome.
For years the work of carnage did not cease,
And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed,
Death's minister; then came his glad release,
And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made
Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw
Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could know. Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye-which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms — at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every
Save that the bustard, of those regions bleak
Shy tenant, seeing by the uncertain light
A man there wandering, gave a mournful shrick,
And half upon the ground, with strange affright,
Forced hard against the wind a thick unwieldy flight.
Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep.
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned, with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would
Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through stort:
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam.
Nor any friendly sound nis footsteps led:
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.