Poems Chiefly From Manuscript
Part 3 out of 5
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
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;
And mark by rustic bridge, oer shallow stream,
Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled,
Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream;
Who now, in gestures wild,
Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall,
Nor fearing human thrall:
Then thread the sunny valley laced with streams,
Or forests rude, and the oershadowed brims
Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams,
And streaks his listless limbs;
Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long,
Where joy's wild impulse swims
In one continued song.
I love at early morn, from new mown swath,
To see the startled frog his route pursue;
To mark while, leaping oer the dripping path,
His bright sides scatter dew,
The early lark that, from its bustle flies,
To hail his matin new;
And watch him to the skies:
To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent,
The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn,
With earnest heed, and tremulous intent,
Frail brother of the morn,
That from the tiny bents and misted leaves
Withdraws his timid horn,
And fearful vision weaves:
Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top,
Wont to be first unsealing morning's eye,
Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop
Of honey on his thigh;
To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing,
Until the golden sky
Bepaint his russet wing:
And sawning boy by tanning corn espy,
With clapping noise to startle birds away,
And hear him bawl to every passer by
To know the hour of day;
And see the uncradled breeze, refreshed and strong,
With waking blossoms play,
And breathe eolian song.
I love the south-west wind, or low or loud,
And not the less when sudden drops of rain
Moisten my pallid cheek from ebon cloud,
Threatening soft showers again,
That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds,
Summer's sweet breath unchain,
And wake harmonious sounds.
Rich music breathes in summer's every sound;
And in her harmony of varied greens,
Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around
Much beauty intervenes,
Filling with harmony the ear and eye;
While oer the mingling scenes
Far spreads the laughing sky.
And wind-enamoured aspin--mark the leaves
Turn up their silver lining to the sun,
And list! the brustling noise, that oft deceives,
And makes the sheep-boy run;
The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers,
He thinks the rain begun,
And hastes to sheltering bowers.
But now the evening curdles dank and grey,
Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed;
And moping owls, to close the lids of day,
On drowsy wing proceed;
While chickering crickets, tremulous and long,
Light's farewell inly heed,
And give it parting song.
The pranking bat its nighty circlet makes;
The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew
Oer meadows dew-besprent; and beetle wakes
Enquiries ever new,
Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain,
As wanting to pursue
His homeward path again.
Hark to the melody of distant bells
That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds
By fitful starts, then musically swells
Oer the dun stilly grounds;
While on the meadow bridge the pausing boy
Listens the mellow sounds,
And hums in vacant joy.
Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round
His evening faggot, and with every stride
His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound.
Till silly sheep beside
His path start tremulous, and once again
Look back dissatisfied,
Then scour the dewy plain.
How sweet the soothing calm that smoothly stills
Oer the heart's every sense its opiate dews,
In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills!
That softens and subdues,
With gentle quiet's bland and sober train,
Which dreamy eve renews
In many a mellow strain.
I love to walk the fields, they are to me
A legacy no evil can destroy;
They, like a spell, set every rapture free
That cheered me when a boy.
Play--pastime--all time's blotting pen concealed,
Comes like a new-born joy,
To greet me in the field.
For nature's objects ever harmonize
With emulous taste, that vulgar deed annoys;
It loves in quiet moods to sympathize,
And meet vibrating joys
Oer nature's pleasant things; nor will it deem
Pastime the muse employs
A vain obtrusive theme.
_A World for Love_
Oh, the world is all too rude for thee, with much ado and care;
Oh, this world is but a rude world, and hurts a thing so fair;
Was there a nook in which the world had never been to sear,
That place would prove a paradise when thou and Love were near.
And there to pluck the blackberry, and there to reach the sloe,
How joyously and happily would Love thy partner go;
Then rest when weary on a bank, where not a grassy blade
Had eer been bent by Trouble's feet, and Love thy pillow made.
For Summer would be ever green, though sloes were in their prime,
And Winter smile his frowns to Spring, in beauty's happy clime;
And months would come, and months would go, and all in sunny mood,
And everything inspired by thee grow beautifully good.
And there to make a cot unknown to any care and pain,
And there to shut the door alone on singing wind and rain--
Far, far away from all the world, more rude than rain or wind,
Oh, who could wish a sweeter home, or better place to find?
Than thus to love and live with thee, thou beautiful delight!
Than thus to live and love with thee the summer day and night!
The Earth itself, where thou hadst rest, would surely smile to see
Herself grow Eden once again, possest of Love and thee.
Love, though it is not chill and cold,
But burning like eternal fire,
Is yet not of approaches bold,
Which gay dramatic tastes admire.
Oh timid love, more fond than free,
In daring song is ill pourtrayed,
Where, as in war, the devotee
By valour wins each captive maid;--
Where hearts are prest to hearts in glee,
As they could tell each other's mind;
Where ruby lips are kissed as free,
As flowers are by the summer wind.
No! gentle love, that timid dream,
With hopes and fears at foil and play,
Works like a skiff against the stream,
And thinking most finds least to say.
It lives in blushes and in sighs,
In hopes for which no words are found;
Thoughts dare not speak but in the eyes,
The tongue is left without a sound.
The pert and forward things that dare
Their talk in every maiden's ear,
Feel no more than their shadows there--
Mere things of form, with nought of fear.
True passion, that so burns to plead,
Is timid as the dove's disguise;
Tis for the murder-aiming gleed
To dart at every thing that flies.
True love, it is no daring bird,
But like the little timid wren,
That in the new-leaved thorns of spring
Shrinks farther from the sight of men.
The idol of his musing mind,
The worship of his lonely hour,
Love woos her in the summer wind,
And tells her name to every flower;
But in her sight, no open word
Escapes, his fondness to declare;
The sighs by beauty's magic stirred
Are all that speak his passion there.
_Nature's Hymn to the Deity_
All nature owns with one accord
The great and universal Lord:
The sun proclaims him through the day,
The moon when daylight drops away,
The very darkness smiles to wear
The stars that show us God is there,
On moonlight seas soft gleams the sky
And "God is with us" waves reply.
Winds breathe from God's abode "we come,"
Storms louder own God is their home,
And thunder yet with louder call,
Sounds "God is mightiest over all";
Till earth right loath the proof to miss
Echoes triumphantly "He is,"
And air and ocean makes reply,
God reigns on earth, in air and sky.
All nature owns with one accord
The great and universal Lord:
Insect and bird and tree and flower--
The witnesses of every hour--
Are pregnant with his prophesy
And "God is with us" all reply.
The first link in the mighty plan
Is still--and all upbraideth man.
O Poesy is on the wane,
For Fancy's visions all unfitting;
I hardly know her face again,
Nature herself seems on the flitting.
The fields grow old and common things,
The grass, the sky, the winds a-blowing;
And spots, where still a beauty clings,
Are sighing "going! all a-going!"
O Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.
The bank with brambles overspread,
And little molehills round about it,
Was more to me than laurel shades,
With paths of gravel finely clouted;
And streaking here and streaking there,
Through shaven grass and many a border,
With rutty lanes had no compare,
And heaths were in a richer order.
But Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.
I sat beside the pasture stream,
When Beauty's self was sitting by,
The fields did more than Eden seem
Nor could I tell the reason why.
I often drank when not adry
To pledge her health in draughts divine;
Smiles made it nectar from the sky,
Love turned een water into wine.
O Poesy is on the wane,
I cannot find her face again.
The sun those mornings used to find,
Its clouds were other-country mountains,
And heaven looked downward on the mind,
Like groves, and rocks, and mottled fountains.
Those heavens are gone, the mountains grey
Turned mist--the sun, a homeless ranger,
Pursues alone his naked way,
Unnoticed like a very stranger.
O Poesy is on the wane,
Nor love nor joy is mine again.
Love's sun went down without a frown,
For very joy it used to grieve us;
I often think the West is gone,
Ah, cruel Time, to undeceive us.
The stream it is a common stream,
Where we on Sundays used to ramble,
The sky hangs oer a broken dream,
The bramble's dwindled to a bramble!
O Poesy is on the wane,
I cannot find her haunts again.
Mere withered stalks and fading trees,
And pastures spread with hills and rushes,
Are all my fading vision sees;
Gone, gone are rapture's flooding gushes!
When mushrooms they were fairy bowers,
Their marble pillars overswelling,
And Danger paused to pluck the flowers
That in their swarthy rings were dwelling.
Yes, Poesy is on the wane,
Nor joy nor fear is mine again.
Aye, Poesy hath passed away,
And Fancy's visions undeceive us;
The night hath ta'en the place of day,
And why should passing shadows grieve us?
I thought the flowers upon the hills
Were flowers from Adam's open gardens;
But I have had my summer thrills,
And I have had my heart's rewardings.
So Poesy is on the wane,
I hardly know her face again.
And Friendship it hath burned away,
Like to a very ember cooling,
A make-believe on April day
That sent the simple heart a-fooling;
Mere jesting in an earnest way,
Deceiving on and still deceiving;
And Hope is but a fancy-play,
And Joy the art of true believing;
For Poesy is on the wane,
O could I feel her faith again!
_The Cellar Door_
By the old tavern door on the causey there lay
A hogshead of stingo just rolled from a dray,
And there stood the blacksmith awaiting a drop
As dry as the cinders that lay in his shop;
And there stood the cobbler as dry as a bun,
Almost crackt like a bucket when left in the sun.
He'd whetted his knife upon pendil and hone
Till he'd not got a spittle to moisten the stone;
So ere he could work--though he'd lost the whole day--
He must wait the new broach and bemoisten his clay.
The cellar was empty, each barrel was drained
To its dregs--and Sir John like a rebel remained
In the street--for removal too powerful and large
For two or three topers to take into charge.
Odd zooks, said a gipsey, with bellows to mend,
Had I strength I would just be for helping a friend
To walk on his legs: but a child in the street
Had as much power as he to put John on his feet.
Then up came the blacksmith: Sir Barley, said he,
I should just like to storm your old tower for a spree;
And my strength for your strength and bar your renown
I'd soon try your spirit by cracking your crown.
And the cobbler he tuckt up his apron and spit
In his hands for a burster--but devil a bit
Would he move--so as yet they made nothing of land;
For there lay the knight like a whale in the sand.
Said the tinker: If I could but drink of his vein
I should just be as strong and as stubborn again.
Push along, said the toper, the cellar's adry:
There's nothing to moisten the mouth of a fly.
Says the host, We shall burn out with thirst, he's so big.
There's a cag of small swipes half as sour as a wig.
In such like extremes, why, extremes will come pat;
So let's go and wet all our whistles with that.
Says the gipsey, May I never bottom a chair
If I drink of small swipes while Sir John's lying there.
And the blacksmith he threw off his apron and swore
Small swipes should bemoisten his gullet no more:
Let it out on the floor for the dry cock-a-roach--
And he held up his hammer with threatens to broach
Sir John in his castle without leave or law
And suck out his blood with a reed or a straw
Ere he'd soak at the swipes--and he turned him to start,
Till the host for high treason came down a full quart.
Just then passed the dandy and turned up his nose:
They'd fain have him shove, but he looked at his clothes
And nipt his nose closer and twirled his stick round
And simpered, Tis nuisance to lie on the ground.
But Bacchus, he laughed from the old tavern sign,
Saying, Go on, thou shadow, and let the sun shine.
Then again they all tried, and the tinker he swore
That the hogshead had grown twice as heavy or more.
Nay nay, said the toper, and reeled as he spoke,
We're all getting weak, that's the end of the joke.
The ploughman came up and cut short his old tune,
Hallooed "woi" to his horses and though it was June
Said he'd help them an hour ere he'd keep them adry;
Well done, said the blacksmith with hopes running high;
He moves, and, by jingo, success to the plough!
Aye aye, said the cobbler, we'll conquer him now.
The hogshead rolled forward, the toper fell back,
And the host laughed aloud as his sides they would crack
To see the old tinker's toil make such a gap
In his coat as to rend it from collar to flap.
But the tinker he grumbled and cried Fiddle-dee!
This garment hath been an old tenant with me;
And a needle and thread with a little good skill
When I've leisure will make it stand more weathers still.
Then crack went his breeks from the hip to the knee
With his thrusting--no matter; for nothing cared he.
So long as Sir John rolled along to the door,
He's a chip of our block, said the blacksmith, and swore;
And as sure as I live to drive nails in a shoe
He shall have at my cost a full pitcher or two.
And the toper he hiccuped--which hindered an oath--
So long as he'd credit, he'd pitcher them both.
But the host stopt to hint when he'd ordered the dray
Sir Barleycorn's order was purchase and pay.
And now the old knight is imprisoned and ta'en
To waste in the tavern man's cellar again.
And now, said the blacksmith, let forfeits come first
For the insult swipes offered, or his hoops I will burst.
Here it is, my old hearties--Then drink your thirst full,
Said the host, for the stingo is worth a strong pull.
Never fear for your legs if they're broken to-day;
Winds only blow straws, dust, and feathers away.
But the cask that is full, like a giant he lies,
And giants alone can his spirits capsize.
If he lies in the path, though a king's coming bye,
John Barleycorn's mighty and there he will lie.
Then the toper sat down with a hiccup and felt
If he'd still an odd coin in his pocket to melt,
And he made a wry face, for his pocket was bare.
--But he laughed and danced up, What, old boy, are you there?
When he felt that a stiver had got to his knee
Through a hole in his fob, and right happy was he.
Says the tinker, I've brawled till no breath I have got
And not met with twopence to purchase a pot.
Says the toper, I've powder to charge a long gun,
And a stiver I've found when I thought I'd got none;
So helping a thirsty old friend in his need
Is my duty--take heart, thou art welcome indeed.
Then the smith with his tools in Sir John made a breach,
And the toper he hiccuped and ended his speech;
And pulled at the quart, till the snob he declared
When he went to drink next that the bottom was bared.
No matter for that, said the toper, and grinned;
I had but a soak and neer rested for wind.
That's the law, said the smith, with a look rather vexed,
But the quart was a forfeit; so pay for the next.
Thus they talked of their skill and their labour till noon
When the sober man's toil was exactly half done,
And there the plough lay--people hardly could pass
And the horses let loose polished up the short grass
And browsed on the bottle of flags lying there,
By the gipsey's old budget, for mending a chair.
The miller's horse tied to the old smithy door
Stood stamping his feet, by the flies bitten sore,
Awaiting the smith as he wanted a shoe;
And he stampt till another fell off and made two:
Till the miller, expecting that all would get loose,
Went to seek him and cursed him outright for a goose;
But he dipt his dry beak in the mug once or twice
And forgot all his passion and toil in a trice.
And the flybitten horse at the old smithy post
Might stamp till his shoes and his legs they were lost.
He sung his old songs and forgot his old mill--
Blow winds high or low, she might rest her at will.
And the cobbler, in spite of his bustle for pelf,
Left the shop all the day to take care of itself.
And the toper who carried his house on his head,
No wife to be teazing, no bairns to be fed,
Would sit out the week or the month or the year
Or a life-time so long as he'd credit for beer.
The ploughman he talked of his skill as divine,
How he could plough thurrows as straight as a line;
And the blacksmith he swore, had he but the command,
He could shoe the king's hunter the best in the land;
And the cobbler declared, was his skill but once seen,
He should soon get an order for shoes from the queen.
But the tinker he swore he could beat them all three,
For gi' me a pair of old bellows, says he,
And I'll make them roar out like the wind in a storm
And make them blow fire out of coal hardly warm.
The toper said nothing but wished the quart full
And swore he could toss it all off at a pull.
Have one, said the tinker; but wit was away,
When the bet was to bind him he'd nothing to pay.
And thus in the face of life's sun-and-shower weather
They drank, bragged, and sung, and got merry together.
The sun he went down--the last gleam from his brow
Flung a smile of repose on the holiday plough;
The glooms they approached, and the dews like a rain
Fell thick and hung pearls on the old sorrel mane
Of the horse that the miller had brought to be shod,
And the morning awoke, saw a sight rather odd--
For a bit of the halter still hung at the door,
Bit through by the horse now at feed on the moor;
And the old tinker's budget lay still in the weather,
While all kept on singing and drinking together.
I've left my own old home of homes,
Green fields and every pleasant place;
The summer like a stranger comes,
I pause and hardly know her face.
I miss the hazel's happy green,
The blue bell's quiet hanging blooms,
Where envy's sneer was never seen,
Where staring malice never comes.
I miss the heath, its yellow furze,
Molehills and rabbit tracks that lead
Through beesom, ling, and teazel burrs
That spread a wilderness indeed;
The woodland oaks and all below
That their white powdered branches shield,
The mossy paths: the very crow
Croaks music in my native field.
I sit me in my corner chair
That seems to feel itself from home,
And hear bird music here and there
From hawthorn hedge and orchard come;
I hear, but all is strange and new:
I sat on my old bench in June,
The sailing puddock's shrill "peelew"
On Royce Wood seemed a sweeter tune.
I walk adown the narrow lane,
The nightingale is singing now,
But like to me she seems at loss
For Royce Wood and its shielding bough.
I lean upon the window sill,
The trees and summer happy seem;
Green, sunny green they shine, but still
My heart goes far away to dream.
Of happiness, and thoughts arise
With home-bred pictures many a one,
Green lanes that shut out burning skies
And old crooked stiles to rest upon;
Above them hangs the maple tree,
Below grass swells a velvet hill,
And little footpaths sweet to see
Go seeking sweeter places still,
With bye and bye a brook to cross
Oer which a little arch is thrown:
No brook is here, I feel the loss
From home and friends and all alone.
--The stone pit with its shelvy sides
Seemed hanging rocks in my esteem;
I miss the prospect far and wide
From Langley Bush, and so I seem
Alone and in a stranger scene,
Far, far from spots my heart esteems,
The closen with their ancient green,
Heaths, woods, and pastures, sunny streams.
The hawthorns here were hung with may,
But still they seem in deader green,
The sun een seems to lose its way
Nor knows the quarter it is in.
I dwell in trifles like a child,
I feel as ill becomes a man,
And still my thoughts like weedlings wild
Grow up to blossom where they can.
They turn to places known so long
I feel that joy was dwelling there,
So home-fed pleasure fills the song
That has no present joys to hear.
I read in books for happiness,
But books are like the sea to joy,
They change--as well give age the glass
To hunt its visage when a boy.
For books they follow fashions new
And throw all old esteems away,
In crowded streets flowers never grew,
But many there hath died away.
Some sing the pomps of chivalry
As legends of the ancient time,
Where gold and pearls and mystery
Are shadows painted for sublime;
But passions of sublimity
Belong to plain and simpler things,
And David underneath a tree
Sought when a shepherd Salem's springs,
Where moss did into cushions spring,
Forming a seat of velvet hue,
A small unnoticed trifling thing
To all but heaven's hailing dew.
And David's crown hath passed away,
Yet poesy breathes his shepherd-skill,
His palace lost--and to this day
The little moss is blossoming still.
Strange scenes mere shadows are to me,
Vague impersonifying things;
I love with my old haunts to be
By quiet woods and gravel springs,
Where little pebbles wear as smooth
As hermits' beads by gentle floods,
Whose noises do my spirits soothe
And warm them into singing moods.
Here every tree is strange to me,
All foreign things where eer I go,
There's none where boyhood made a swee
Or clambered up to rob a crow.
No hollow tree or woodland bower
Well known when joy was beating high,
Where beauty ran to shun a shower
And love took pains to keep her dry,
And laid the sheaf upon the ground
To keep her from the dripping grass,
And ran for stocks and set them round
Till scarce a drop of rain could pass
Through; where the maidens they reclined
And sung sweet ballads now forgot,
Which brought sweet memories to the mind,
But here no memory knows them not.
There have I sat by many a tree
And leaned oer many a rural stile,
And conned my thoughts as joys to me,
Nought heeding who might frown or smile.
Twas nature's beauty that inspired
My heart with rapture not its own,
And she's a fame that never tires;
How could I feel myself alone?
No, pasture molehills used to lie
And talk to me of sunny days,
And then the glad sheep resting bye
All still in ruminating praise
Of summer and the pleasant place
And every weed and blossom too
Was looking upward in my face
With friendship's welcome "how do ye do?"
All tenants of an ancient place
And heirs of noble heritage,
Coeval they with Adam's race
And blest with more substantial age.
For when the world first saw the sun
These little flowers beheld him too,
And when his love for earth begun
They were the first his smiles to woo.
There little lambtoe bunches springs
In red tinged and begolden dye
For ever, and like China kings
They come but never seem to die.
There may-bloom with its little threads
Still comes upon the thorny bowers
And neer forgets those prickly heads
Like fairy pins amid the flowers.
And still they bloom as on the day
They first crowned wilderness and rock,
When Abel haply wreathed with may
The firstlings of his little flock,
And Eve might from the matted thorn
To deck her lone and lovely brow
Reach that same rose that heedless scorn
Misnames as the dog rosey now.
Give me no high-flown fangled things,
No haughty pomp in marching chime,
Where muses play on golden strings
And splendour passes for sublime,
Where cities stretch as far as fame
And fancy's straining eye can go,
And piled until the sky for shame
Is stooping far away below.
I love the verse that mild and bland
Breathes of green fields and open sky,
I love the muse that in her hand
Bears flowers of native poesy;
Who walks nor skips the pasture brook
In scorn, but by the drinking horse
Leans oer its little brig to look
How far the sallows lean across,
And feels a rapture in her breast
Upon their root-fringed grains to mark
A hermit morehen's sedgy nest
Just like a naiad's summer bark.
She counts the eggs she cannot reach
Admires the spot and loves it well,
And yearns, so nature's lessons teach,
Amid such neighbourhoods to dwell.
I love the muse who sits her down
Upon the molehill's little lap,
Who feels no fear to stain her gown
And pauses by the hedgerow gap;
Not with that affectation, praise
Of song, to sing and never see
A field flower grown in all her days
Or een a forest's aged tree.
Een here my simple feelings nurse
A love for every simple weed,
And een this little shepherd's purse
Grieves me to cut it up; indeed
I feel at times a love and joy
For every weed and every thing,
A feeling kindred from a boy,
A feeling brought with every Spring.
And why? this shepherd's purse that grows
In this strange spot, in days gone bye
Grew in the little garden rows
Of my old home now left; and I
Feel what I never felt before,
This weed an ancient neighbour here,
And though I own the spot no more
Its every trifle makes it dear.
The ivy at the parlour end,
The woodbine at the garden gate,
Are all and each affection's friend
That render parting desolate.
But times will change and friends must part
And nature still can make amends;
Their memory lingers round the heart
Like life whose essence is its friends.
Time looks on pomp with vengeful mood
Or killing apathy's disdain;
So where old marble cities stood
Poor persecuted weeds remain.
She feels a love for little things
That very few can feel beside,
And still the grass eternal springs
Where castles stood and grandeur died.
Summer's pleasures they are gone like to visions every one,
And the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on.
I tried to call them back, but unbidden they are gone
Far away from heart and eye and forever far away.
Dear heart, and can it be that such raptures meet decay?
I thought them all eternal when by Langley Bush I lay,
I thought them joys eternal when I used to shout and play
On its bank at "clink and bandy," "chock" and "taw" and "ducking stone,"
Where silence sitteth now on the wild heath as her own
Like a ruin of the past all alone.
When I used to lie and sing by old Eastwell's boiling spring,
When I used to tie the willow boughs together for a swing,
And fish with crooked pins and thread and never catch a thing,
With heart just like a feather, now as heavy as a stone;
When beneath old Lea Close oak I the bottom branches broke
To make our harvest cart like so many working folk,
And then to cut a straw at the brook to have a soak.
O I never dreamed of parting or that trouble had a sting,
Or that pleasures like a flock of birds would ever take to wing,
Leaving nothing but a little naked spring.
When jumping time away on old Crossberry Way,
And eating awes like sugarplums ere they had lost the may,
And skipping like a leveret before the peep of day
On the roly poly up and downs of pleasant Swordy Well,
When in Round Oak's narrow lane as the south got black again
We sought the hollow ash that was shelter from the rain,
With our pockets full of peas we had stolen from the grain;
How delicious was the dinner time on such a showery day!
O words are poor receipts for what time hath stole away,
The ancient pulpit trees and the play.
When for school oer Little Field with its brook and wooden brig,
Where I swaggered like a man though I was not half so big,
While I held my little plough though twas but a willow twig,
And drove my team along made of nothing but a name,
"Gee hep" and "hoit" and "woi"--O I never call to mind
These pleasant names of places but I leave a sigh behind,
While I see little mouldiwarps hang sweeing to the wind
On the only aged willow that in all the field remains,
And nature hides her face while they're sweeing in their chains
And in a silent murmuring complains.
Here was commons for their hills, where they seek for freedom still,
Though every common's gone and though traps are set to kill
The little homeless miners--O it turns my bosom chill
When I think of old Sneap Green, Puddock's Nook and Hilly Snow,
Where bramble bushes grew and the daisy gemmed in dew
And the hills of silken grass like to cushions to the view,
Where we threw the pismire crumbs when we'd nothing else to do,
All levelled like a desert by the never weary plough,
All banished like the sun where that cloud is passing now
And settled here for ever on its brow.
O I never thought that joys would run away from boys,
Or that boys would change their minds and forsake such summer joys;
But alack I never dreamed that the world had other toys
To petrify first feelings like the fable into stone,
Till I found the pleasure past and a winter come at last,
Then the fields were sudden bare and the sky got overcast
And boyhood's pleasing haunt like a blossom in the blast
Was shrivelled to a withered weed and trampled down and done,
Till vanished was the morning spring and set the summer sun
And winter fought her battle strife and won.
By Langley Bush I roam, but the bush hath left its hill,
On Cowper Green I stray, tis a desert strange and chill,
And the spreading Lea Close oak, ere decay had penned its will,
To the axe of the spoiler and self-interest fell a prey,
And Crossberry Way and old Round Oak's narrow lane
With its hollow trees like pulpits I shall never see again,
Enclosure like a Buonaparte let not a thing remain,
It levelled every bush and tree and levelled every hill
And hung the moles for traitors--though the brook is running still
It runs a sicker brook, cold and chill.
O had I known as then joy had left the paths of men,
I had watched her night and day, be sure, and never slept agen,
And when she turned to go, O I'd caught her mantle then,
And wooed her like a lover by my lonely side to stay;
Ay, knelt and worshipped on, as love in beauty's bower,
And clung upon her smiles as a bee upon a flower,
And gave her heart my posies, all cropt in a sunny hour,
As keepsakes and pledges all to never fade away;
But love never heeded to treasure up the may,
So it went the common road to decay.
True as the church clock hand the hour pursues
He plods about his toils and reads the news,
And at the blacksmith's shop his hour will stand
To talk of "Lunun" as a foreign land.
For from his cottage door in peace or strife
He neer went fifty miles in all his life.
His knowledge with old notions still combined
Is twenty years behind the march of mind.
He views new knowledge with suspicious eyes
And thinks it blasphemy to be so wise.
On steam's almighty tales he wondering looks
As witchcraft gleaned from old blackletter books.
Life gave him comfort but denied him wealth,
He toils in quiet and enjoys his health,
He smokes a pipe at night and drinks his beer
And runs no scores on tavern screens to clear.
He goes to market all the year about
And keeps one hour and never stays it out.
Een at St. Thomas tide old Rover's bark
Hails Dapple's trot an hour before it's dark.
He is a simple-worded plain old man
Whose good intents take errors in their plan.
Oft sentimental and with saddened vein
He looks on trifles and bemoans their pain,
And thinks the angler mad, and loudly storms
With emphasis of speech oer murdered worms.
And hunters cruel--pleading with sad care
Pity's petition for the fox and hare,
Yet feels self-satisfaction in his woes
For war's crushed myriads of his slaughtered foes.
He is right scrupulous in one pretext
And wholesale errors swallows in the next.
He deems it sin to sing, yet not to say
A song--a mighty difference in his way.
And many a moving tale in antique rhymes
He has for Christmas and such merry times,
When "Chevy Chase," his masterpiece of song,
Is said so earnest none can think it long.
Twas the old vicar's way who should be right,
For the late vicar was his heart's delight,
And while at church he often shakes his head
To think what sermons the old vicar made,
Downright and orthodox that all the land
Who had their ears to hear might understand,
But now such mighty learning meets his ears
He thinks it Greek or Latin which he hears,
Yet church receives him every sabbath day
And rain or snow he never keeps away.
All words of reverence still his heart reveres,
Low bows his head when Jesus meets his ears,
And still he thinks it blasphemy as well
Such names without a capital to spell.
In an old corner cupboard by the wall
His books are laid, though good, in number small,
His Bible first in place; from worth and age
Whose grandsire's name adorns the title page,
And blank leaves once, now filled with kindred claims,
Display a world's epitome of names.
Parents and children and grandchildren all
Memory's affections in the lists recall.
And prayer-book next, much worn though strongly bound,
Proves him a churchman orthodox and sound.
The "Pilgrim's Progress" and the "Death of Abel"
Are seldom missing from his Sunday table,
And prime old Tusser in his homely trim,
The first of bards in all the world with him,
And only poet which his leisure knows;
Verse deals in fancy, so he sticks to prose.
These are the books he reads and reads again
And weekly hunts the almanacks for rain.
Here and no further learning's channels ran;
Still, neighbours prize him as the learned man.
His cottage is a humble place of rest
With one spare room to welcome every guest,
And that tall poplar pointing to the sky
His own hand planted when an idle boy,
It shades his chimney while the singing wind
Hums songs of shelter to his happy mind.
Within his cot the largest ears of corn
He ever found his picture frames adorn:
Brave Granby's head, De Grosse's grand defeat;
He rubs his hands and shows how Rodney beat.
And from the rafters upon strings depend
Beanstalks beset with pods from end to end,
Whose numbers without counting may be seen
Wrote on the almanack behind the screen.
Around the corner up on worsted strung
Pooties in wreaths above the cupboard hung.
Memory at trifling incidents awakes
And there he keeps them for his children's sakes,
Who when as boys searched every sedgy lane,
Traced every wood and shattered clothes again,
Roaming about on rapture's easy wing
To hunt those very pooty shells in spring.
And thus he lives too happy to be poor
While strife neer pauses at so mean a door.
Low in the sheltered valley stands his cot,
He hears the mountain storm and feels it not;
Winter and spring, toil ceasing ere tis dark,
Rests with the lamb and rises with the lark,
Content his helpmate to the day's employ
And care neer comes to steal a single joy.
Time, scarcely noticed, turns his hair to grey,
Yet leaves him happy as a child at play.
These tiny loiterers on the barley's beard,
And happy units of a numerous herd
Of playfellows, the laughing Summer brings,
Mocking the sunshine in their glittering wings,
How merrily they creep, and run, and fly!
No kin they bear to labour's drudgery,
Smoothing the velvet of the pale hedge-rose;
And where they fly for dinner no one knows--
The dew-drops feed them not--they love the shine
Of noon, whose sun may bring them golden wine.
All day they're playing in their Sunday dress--
Till night goes sleep, and they can do no less;
Then, to the heath bell's silken hood they fly,
And like to princes in their slumbers lie,
Secure from night, and dropping dews, and all,
In silken beds and roomy painted hall.
So merrily they spend their summer day,
Now in the cornfields, now the new-mown hay.
One almost fancies that such happy things,
With coloured hoods and richly burnished wings,
Are fairy folk, in splendid masquerade
Disguised, as if of mortal folk afraid,
Keeping their merry pranks a mystery still,
Lest glaring day should do their secrets ill.
Black grows the southern sky, betokening rain,
And humming hive-bees homeward hurry bye:
They feel the change; so let us shun the grain,
And take the broad road while our feet are dry.
Ay, there some dropples moistened on my face,
And pattered on my hat--tis coming nigh!
Let's look about, and find a sheltering place.
The little things around, like you and I,
Are hurrying through the grass to shun the shower.
Here stoops an ash-tree--hark! the wind gets high,
But never mind; this ivy, for an hour,
Rain as it may, will keep us dryly here:
That little wren knows well his sheltering bower,
Nor leaves his dry house though we come so near.
When once the sun sinks in the west,
And dew-drops pearl the evening's breast;
Almost as pale as moonbeams are,
Or its companionable star,
The evening primrose opes anew
Its delicate blossoms to the dew;
And, shunning-hermit of the light,
Wastes its fair bloom upon the night;
Who, blindfold to its fond caresses,
Knows not the beauty he possesses.
Thus it blooms on till night is bye
And day looks out with open eye,
Abashed at the gaze it cannot shun,
It faints and withers, and is done.
_The Shepherd's Tree_
Huge elm, with rifted trunk all notched and scarred,
Like to a warrior's destiny! I love
To stretch me often on thy shadowed sward,
And hear the laugh of summer leaves above;
Or on thy buttressed roots to sit, and lean
In careless attitude, and there reflect
On times, and deeds, and darings that have been--
Old castaways, now swallowed in neglect;
While thou art towering in thy strength of heart,
Stirring the soul to vain imaginings,
In which life's sordid being hath no part.
The wind of that eternal ditty sings,
Humming of future things, that burn the mind
To leave some fragment of itself behind.
These children of the sun which summer brings
As pastoral minstrels in her merry train
Pipe rustic ballads upon busy wings
And glad the cotters' quiet toils again.
The white-nosed bee that bores its little hole
In mortared walls and pipes its symphonies,
And never absent couzen, black as coal,
That Indian-like bepaints its little thighs,
With white and red bedight for holiday,
Right earlily a-morn do pipe and play
And with their legs stroke slumber from their eyes.
And aye so fond they of their singing seem
That in their holes abed at close of day
They still keep piping in their honey dreams,
And larger ones that thrum on ruder pipe
Round the sweet smelling closen and rich woods
Where tawny white and red flush clover buds
Shine bonnily and bean fields blossom ripe,
Shed dainty perfumes and give honey food
To these sweet poets of the summer fields;
Me much delighting as I stroll along
The narrow path that hay laid meadow yields,
Catching the windings of their wandering song.
The black and yellow bumble first on wing
To buzz among the sallow's early flowers,
Hiding its nest in holes from fickle spring
Who stints his rambles with her frequent showers;
And one that may for wiser piper pass,
In livery dress half sables and half red,
Who laps a moss ball in the meadow grass
And hoards her stores when April showers have fled;
And russet commoner who knows the face
Of every blossom that the meadow brings,
Starting the traveller to a quicker pace
By threatening round his head in many rings:
These sweeten summer in their happy glee
By giving for her honey melody.
_The Firetail's Nest_
"Tweet" pipes the robin as the cat creeps by
Her nestling young that in the elderns lie,
And then the bluecap tootles in its glee,
Picking the flies from orchard apple tree,
And "pink" the chaffinch cries its well-known strain,
Urging its kind to utter "pink" again,
While in a quiet mood hedgesparrows try
An inward stir of shadowed melody.
Around the rotten tree the firetail mourns
As the old hedger to his toil returns,
Chopping the grain to stop the gap close by
The hole where her blue eggs in safety lie.
Of everything that stirs she dreameth wrong
And pipes her "tweet tut" fears the whole day long.
_The Fear of Flowers_
The nodding oxeye bends before the wind,
The woodbine quakes lest boys their flowers should find,
And prickly dogrose spite of its array
Can't dare the blossom-seeking hand away,
While thistles wear their heavy knobs of bloom
Proud as a warhorse wears its haughty plume,
And by the roadside danger's self defy;
On commons where pined sheep and oxen lie
In ruddy pomp and ever thronging mood
It stands and spreads like danger in a wood,
And in the village street where meanest weeds
Can't stand untouched to fill their husks with seeds,
The haughty thistle oer all danger towers,
In every place the very wasp of flowers.
The frog half fearful jumps across the path,
And little mouse that leaves its hole at eve
Nimbles with timid dread beneath the swath;
My rustling steps awhile their joys deceive,
Till past,--and then the cricket sings more strong,
And grasshoppers in merry moods still wear
The short night weary with their fretting song.
Up from behind the molehill jumps the hare,
Cheat of his chosen bed, and from the bank
The yellowhammer flutters in short fears
From off its nest hid in the grasses rank,
And drops again when no more noise it hears.
Thus nature's human link and endless thrall,
Proud man, still seems the enemy of all.
_Emmonsail's Heath in Winter_
I love to see the old heath's withered brake
Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling,
While the old heron from the lonely lake
Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing,
And oddling crow in idle motions swing
On the half rotten ashtree's topmost twig,
Beside whose trunk the gipsy makes his bed.
Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig
Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread,
The fieldfares chatter in the whistling thorn
And for the awe round fields and closen rove,
And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again.
_Pleasures of Fancy_
A path, old tree, goes by thee crooking on,
And through this little gate that claps and bangs
Against thy rifted trunk, what steps hath gone?
Though but a lonely way, yet mystery hangs
Oer crowds of pastoral scenes recordless here.
The boy might climb the nest in thy young boughs
That's slept half an eternity; in fear
The herdsman may have left his startled cows
For shelter when heaven's thunder voice was near;
Here too the woodman on his wallet laid
For pillow may have slept an hour away;
And poet pastoral, lover of the shade,
Here sat and mused half some long summer day
While some old shepherd listened to the lay.
The heroes of the present and the past
Were puny, vague, and nothingness to thee:
Thou didst a span grasp mighty to the last,
And strain for glory when thy die was cast.
That little island, on the Atlantic sea,
Was but a dust-spot in a lake: thy mind
Swept space as shoreless as eternity.
Thy giant powers outstript this gaudy age
Of heroes; and, as looking at the sun,
So gazing on thy greatness, made men blind
To merits, that had adoration won
In olden times. The world was on thy page
Of victories but a comma. Fame could find
No parallel, thy greatness to presage.
Above the russet clods the corn is seen
Sprouting its spiry points of tender green,
Where squats the hare, to terrors wide awake,
Like some brown clod the harrows failed to break.
Opening their golden caskets to the sun,
The buttercups make schoolboys eager run,
To see who shall be first to pluck the prize--
Up from their hurry see the Skylark flies,
And oer her half-formed nest, with happy wings,
Winnows the air till in the cloud she sings,
Then hangs a dust spot in the sunny skies,
And drops and drops till in her nest she lies,
Which they unheeded passed--not dreaming then
That birds, which flew so high, would drop again
To nests upon the ground, which anything
May come at to destroy. Had they the wing
Like such a bird, themselves would be too proud
And build on nothing but a passing cloud!
As free from danger as the heavens are free
From pain and toil, there would they build and be,
And sail about the world to scenes unheard
Of and unseen,--O were they but a bird!
So think they, while they listen to its song,
And smile and fancy and so pass along;
While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.
Waves trough, rebound, and furious boil again,
Like plunging monsters rising underneath,
Who at the top curl up a shaggy mane,
A moment catching at a surer breath,
Then plunging headlong down and down, and on
Each following whirls the shadow of the last;
And other monsters rise when those are gone,
Crest their fringed waves, plunge onward and are past.
The chill air comes around me oceanly,
From bank to bank the waterstrife is spread;
Strange birds like snowspots oer the whizzing sea
Hang where the wild duck hurried past and fled.
On roars the flood, all restless to be free,
Like Trouble wandering to Eternity.
_The Thrush's Nest_
Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush,
That overhung a molehill large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns to sunrise, and I drank the sound
With joy; and, often an intruding guest,
I watched her secret toils from day to day--
How true she warped the moss, to form a nest,
And modelled it within with wood and clay;
And by and by, like heath-bells gilt with dew,
There lay her shining eggs, as bright as flowers,
Ink-spotted-over shells of greeny blue;
And there I witnessed in the sunny hours
A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly,
Glad as that sunshine and the laughing sky.
Sybil of months, and worshipper of winds,
I love thee, rude and boisterous as thou art;
And scraps of joy my wandering ever finds
Mid thy uproarious madness--when the start
Of sudden tempests stirs the forest leaves
Into hoarse fury, till the shower set free
Stills the huge swells. Then ebb the mighty heaves,
That sway the forest like a troubled sea.
I love thy wizard noise, and rave in turn
Half-vacant thoughts and rhymes of careless form;
Then hide me from the shower, a short sojourn,
Neath ivied oak; and mutter to the storm,
Wishing its melody belonged to me,
That I might breathe a living song to thee.
Man, Earth's poor shadow! talks of Earth's decay:
But hath it nothing of eternal kin?
No majesty that shall not pass away?
No soul of greatness springing up within?
Thought marks without hoar shadows of sublime,
Pictures of power, which if not doomed to win
Eternity, stand laughing at old Time
For ages: in the grand ancestral line
Of things eternal, mounting to divine,
I read Magnificence where ages pay
Worship like conquered foes to the Apennine,
Because they could not conquer. There sits Day
Too high for Night to come at--mountains shine,
Outpeering Time, too lofty for decay.
Autumn comes laden with her ripened load
Of fruitage and so scatters them abroad
That each fern-smothered heath and mole-hill waste
Are black with bramble berries--where in haste
The chubby urchins from the village hie
To feast them there, stained with the purple dye;
While painted woods around my rambles be
In draperies worthy of eternity.
Yet will the leaves soon patter on the ground,
And death's deaf voice awake at every sound:
One drops--then others--and the last that fell
Rings for those left behind their passing bell.
Thus memory every where her tidings brings
How sad death robs us of life's dearest things.
_Signs of Winter_
The cat runs races with her tail. The dog
Leaps oer the orchard hedge and knarls the grass.
The swine run round and grunt and play with straw,
Snatching out hasty mouthfuls from the stack.
Sudden upon the elmtree tops the crow
Unceremonious visit pays and croaks,
Then swops away. From mossy barn the owl
Bobs hasty out--wheels round and, scared as soon,
As hastily retires. The ducks grow wild
And from the muddy pond fly up and wheel
A circle round the village and soon, tired,
Plunge in the pond again. The maids in haste
Snatch from the orchard hedge the mizzled clothes
And laughing hurry in to keep them dry.
Darkness like midnight from the sobbing woods
Clamours with dismal tidings of the rain,
Roaring as rivers breaking loose in floods
To spread and foam and deluge all the plain.
The cotter listens at his door again,
Half doubting whether it be floods or wind,
And through the thickening darkness looks afraid,
Thinking of roads that travel has to find
Through night's black depths in danger's garb arrayed.
And the loud glabber round the flaze soon stops
When hushed to silence by the lifted hand
Of fearing dame who hears the noise in dread
And thinks a deluge comes to drown the land;
Nor dares she go to bed until the tempest drops.
NOTE.--The remaining poems in this section are taken from a series,
numbering several hundred brief pieces, written by Clare in the winter
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