Sidebilder
PDF

Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet
Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright.
O'er these, but far beyond, (a spacious map
Of hill and valley interposed between,)
The Ouse, dividing the well-watered land,
Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.

Hence the declivity is sharp and short,
And such the re-ascent; between them weeps
A little naiad her impoverished urn
All summer long, which winter fills again.
The folded gates would bar my progress now,
But that the lord of this enclosed demesne,
Communicative of the good he owns,
Admits me to a share: the guiltless eye
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys.
Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun?
By short transition we have lost his glare,
And stepped at once into a cooler clime.
Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice
That yet a remnant of your race survives.
How airy and how light the graceful arch,
Yet awful as the consecrated roof
Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath
The chequered earth seems restless as a flood
Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance,
Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick,
And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves
Play wanton, every moment, every spot.

And now with nerves new-braced and spirits cheered
We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolled walks
With curvature of slow and easy sweep,—
Deception innocent,—give ample space
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next;
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms
We may discern the thresher at his task.
Thump after thump, resounds the constant flail,
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls
Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff,
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist
Of atoms sparkling in the noonday beam.
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down
And sleep not,—see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it.—'Tis the primal curse,
But softened into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.

By ceaseless action, all that is subsists. Constant rotation of the unwearied wheel That nature rides upon, maintains her health, Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads

Her mingled suits and sequences, and sits

.Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad

And silent cypher, while her proxy plays.

Others are dragged into the crowded room

Between supporters; and once seated, sit

Through downright inability to rise,

Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again.

These speak a loud memento. Yet even these

Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he

That overhangs a torrent to a twig. .

They love it, and yet loathe it; fear to die.

Yet scorn the purposes for which they live.

Then wherefore not renounce them? No—the dread,

The slavish dread of solitude that breeds

Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame,

And their inveterate habits, all forbid.

Whom call we gay? That honour has been long
The boast of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay ;—the lark is gay
That dries his feathers saturate with dew
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant too, a witness of his song,
Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gaiety of those
Whose headaches nail them to a noon-day bed;
And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripped off by cruel chance;
From gaiety that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.

The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change,
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
Prospects however lovely may be seen
Till half their beauties fade; the weary sight,
Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes.
Then snug enclosures in the sheltered vale,
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye,
Delight us, happy to renounce a while,
Not senseless of its charm-:, what still we love,
That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests, or the savage rock may please,
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man : his hoary head
Conspicuous many a league, the mariner
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist
A girdle of half-withered shrubs he shows,
And at his feet the baffled bdlows die.
The common overgrown with fern, and rough

[graphic]

"From gaiety that fills t/ie bones with pains,
The month with blasphemy, the heart with woe."

Page 126.

With prickly goss, that shapeless and deform
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets.

There often wanders one, whom better days
Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimmed
With lace, and hat with splendid riband bound.
A serving-maid was she, and fell in love
With one who left her, went to sea and died.
Her fancy followed him through foaming waves
To distant shores, and she would sit and weep
At what a sailor suffers; fancy too,
Delusive most where warmest wishes are,
Would oft anticipate his glad return,
And dream of transports she was not to know.
She heard the doleful tidings of his death,
And never smiled again. And now she roams
The dreary waste; there spends the livelong day.
And there, unless when charity forbids,
The livelong night. A tattered apron hides,
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides a gown
More tattered still ; and both but ill conceal
A bosom heaved with never-ceasing sighs.
She begs an idle pin of all she meets,
And hoards them in her sleeve; but needful food,
Though pressed with hunger oft, or comelier clothes,
Though pinched with cold, asks never.—Kate is crazed.

I see a column of slow-rising smoke O'ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild. A vagabond and useless tribe there eat Their miserable meal. A kettle slung Between two poles upon a stick transverse, Receives the morsel; flesh obscene of dog, Or vermin, or at best, of cock purloined From his accustomed perch. Hard-faring race! They pick their fuel out of every hedge, Which kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquenched The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawny skin, The vellum of the pedigree they claim. Great skill have they in palmistry, and more To conjure clean away the gold they touch, Conveying worthless dross into its place. Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal. Strange! that a creature rational, and cast In human mould, should brutalize by choice His nature, and though capable of arts By which the world might profit and himself, Self-banished from society, prefer

« ForrigeFortsett »