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Might see and notice not. Beside the brook
Upon thc Forest-side in Grasmere Wale There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name; An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb. His bodily frame had been from youth to age Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen, Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs, And in his Shepherd's calling he was prompt And watchful more than ordinary men. Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds, Of blasts of every tone; and, oftentimes, When others heeded not, He heard the South Make subterraneous music, like the noise Of Bagpipers on distant Highland hills. The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock Bethought him, and he to himself would say, • The winds are now devising work for me!” And, truly, at all times, the storm—that drives The Traveller to a shelter—summoned him Up to the mountains: he had been alone Amid the heart of many thousand mists, That came to him and left him on the heights. So lived he till his eightieth year was past. And grossly that man errs, who should suppose That the green Valleys, and the Streams and Rocks, were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts. Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed The common air; the hills, which he so oft Had climbed with vigorous steps; which had impressed So many incidents upon his mind Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear; which like a book preserved the memory Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved, Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts, So grateful in themselves, the certainty Of honourable gain; these fields, these hills, which were his living Being, even more Than his own blood—what could they less? had laid Strong hold on his affections, were to him A pleasurable feeling of blind love, The pleasure which there is in life itself.
His days had not been passed in singleness. His Helpmate was a comely Matron, old— Though younger than himself full twenty years. She was a woman of a stirring life, Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had Of antique form, this large for spinning wool, That small for flax; and if one wheel had rest, It was because the other was at work. The Pair had but one Inmate in their house, An only child, who had been born to them When Michael, telling o'er his years, began To deem that he was old,—in Shepherd's phrase, With one foot in the grave. This only Son, With two brave Sheep-dogs tried in many a storm, The one of an inestimable worth, Made all their Household. I may truly say, That they were as a proverb in the vale For endless industry. When day was gone, And from their occupations out of doors The Son and Father were come home, even then, Their labour did not cease; unless when all Turned to their cleanly supper-board, and there, Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk, Sat round their basket piled with oaten cakes, And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when their meal Was ended, Luke (for so the Son was named) And his old Father both betook themselves To such convenient work as might employ Their hands by the fire-side; perhaps to card Wool for the Housewife's spindle, or repair Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe, Or other implement of house or field.
Down from the ceiling by the chimney's edge That in our ancient uncouth country style Did with a huge projection overbrow Large space beneath, as duly as the light of day grew dim the Housewife hung a Lamp; An aged utensil, which had performed Service beyond all others of its kind. Early at evening did it burn and late, Surviving Comrade of uncounted Hours, Which going by from year to year had found And left the couple neither gay perhaps Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes, Living a life of eager industry. And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth year There by the light of this old Lamp they sat, Father and Son, while late into the night The Housewife plied her own peculiar work, Making the cottage through the silent hours Murmur as with the sound of summer flies. This Light was famous in its neighbourhood, And was a public Symbol of the life The thrifty Pair had lived. For, as it chanced, Their Cottage on a plot of rising ground Stood single, with large prospect, North and South, High into Easedale, up to Dunmail-Raise, And Westward to the village near the Lake; And from this constant light, so regular And so far seen, the House itself, by all Who dwelt within the limits of the vale, Both old and young, was named The Evening StAR
Thus living on through such a length of years, The Shepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his Helpmate; but to Michael's heart
And, in a later time, ere yet the Boy
Had put on Boy's attire, did Michael love, | Albeit of a stern unbending mind, To have the Young-one in his sight, when he tlad work by his own door, or when he sat with sheep before him on his Shepherd's stool, Beneath that large old Oak, which near their door Stood, -and, from its enormous breadth of shade, Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun, Thence in our rustic dialect was called The Clipping Tree, a name which yet it bears.
There, while they two were sitting in the shade, with others round them, earnest all and blithe, Would Michael exercise his heart with looks of fond correction and reproof bestowed Upon the Child, if he disturbed the sheep By catching at their legs, or with his shouts Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears.
And when by Heaven's good grace the Boy grew up A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek Two steady roses that were five years old, Then Michael from a winter coppice cut With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped With iron, making it throughout in all Due requisites a perfect Shepherd's Staff, And gave it to the Boy; where with equipt Ile as a Watchman oftentimes was placed At 6ate or gap, to stem or turn the lock; And, to his office prematurely called, There stood the Urchin, as you will divine, Something between a hinderance and a help; And for this cause not always, I believe, Receiving from his Father hire of praise; Though uought was left undone which staff or voice, or looks, or threatening gestures could perform.
But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights, Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways, He with his Father daily went, and they were as companions, why should I relate | That objects which the Shepherd loved before were dearer now that from the Boy there came Feelings and emanations—things which were Light to the sun and music to the wind; And that the Old Man's heart seemed born again.
* Clipping is the word used in the North of England for shearis:
Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew up; And now when he had reached his eighteenth year, He was his comfort and his daily hope.
While in this sort the simple Household lived From day to day, to Michael's ear there came Distressful tidings. Long before the time Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound In surety for his Brother's Son, a man Of an industrious life, and ample means,— But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly Had prest upon him, and old Michael now Was summoned to discharge the forfeiture, A grievous penalty, but little less Than half his substance. This unlooked-for claim, At the first hearing, for a moment took More hope out of his life than he supposed That any old man ever could have lost. As soon as he had gathered so much strength That he could look his trouble in the face, It seemed that his sole refuge was to sell A portion of his patrimonial fields. Such was his first resolve; he thought again, And his heart failed him. “ Isabel,” said he, Two evenings after he had heard the news, * I have been toiling more than seventy years, And in the open sunshine of God's love Ilave we all lived; yet if these fields of ours Should pass into a Stranger's hand, I think That I could not lie quiet in my grave. Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself Has scarcely been more diligent than I; And I have lived to be a fool at last To my own family. An evil Alan That was, and made an evil choice, if he Were false to us; and if he were not false, There are ten thousand to whom loss like this Ilad been no sorrow. I forgive him—but T were better to be dumb than to talk thus. When I began, my purpose was to speak Of remedies and of a cheerful hope. Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land Shall not go from us, and it shall be free; He shall possess it, free as is the wind That passes over it. We have, thou know'st, Another Kinsman—he will be our friend In this distress. He is a prosperous man, Thriving in trade—and Luke to him shall go, And with his Kinsman's help and his own thrift He quickly will repair this loss, and then \lay come again to us. If here he stay, What can be done? Where every one is poor, What can be gained to At this the Old Man paused, And Isabel sat silent, for her mind Was busy, looking back into past times. There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself, He was a Parish-boy—at the Church-door They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence, And halfpennies, where with the neighbours bought A Basket, which they filled with Pedlar's wares; And with this Basket on his arm, the Lad, Went up to London, found a Master there, Who out of many chose the trusty Boy To go and overlook his merchandise beyond the seas: where he grew wonderous rich,
And left estates and monies to the poor,
With daylight Isabel resumed her work; And all the ensuing week the house appeared As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length The expected letter from their Kinsman came, With kind assurances that he would do His utmost for the welfare of the Boy; To which, requests were added, that forthwith He might be sent to him. Ten times or more The letter was read over; Isabel Went forth to show it to the neighbours round; Nor was there at that time on English land A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel Had to her house returned, the Old Man said, “He shall depart to-morrow.” To this word The Housewife answered, talking much of things Which, if at such short notice he should go, Would surely be forgotten. But at length She gave consent, and Michael was at case.
Near the tumultuous brook of Green-head Ghyll, In that deep Valley, Michael had designed To build a Sheep-fold; and, before he heard The tidings of his melancholy loss, For this same purpose he had gathered up A heap of stones, which by the Streamlet's edge Lay thrown together, ready for the work. With Luke that evening thitherward he walked; And soon as they had reached the place he stopped, And thus the Old Man spake to him — My Son,
To-morrow thou will leave me: with full heart
with many hopes—ft should be so—Yes—yes—
The Shepherd ended here; and Luke stooped down, And, as his Father had requested, laid The first stone of the Sheep-fold. At the sight The Old Man's grief broke from him, to his heart he pressed his Son, he kissed him and wept; And to the House together they returned. —Hushed was that House in peace, or seeming peace, Ere the night fell;-with morrow's dawn the Boy Began his journey, and when he had reached The public Way, he put on a bold face; And all the Neighbours as he passed their doors Came forth with wishes and with farewell prayers, That followed him till he was out of sight.
A tood report did from their Kinsman come, of Luke and his well-doing; and the Boy wrote loving letters, full of wonderous news. which, as the Housewife phrased it, were throughout - The prettiest letters that were ever seen.” Both parents read them with rejoicing hearts. so, many months passed on: and once again The Shepherd went about his daily work with confident and cheerful thoughts; and now Sometimes when he could find a leisure hour He to that valley took his way, and there wrought at the Sheep-fold. Meantime Luke began To slacken in his duty; and at length He in the dissolute city gave himself To evil courses: ignominy and shame Fell on him, so that he was driven at last To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas.
There is a comfort in the strength of love; T will make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart: * I have couversed with more than one who well nemember the Old Man, and what he was Years after he had heard this heavy news. fir bodily frame had been from youth to age of an unusual strength. Among the rocks Ile went, and still looked up upon the sun, And listened to the wind; and as before Performed all kinds of labour for his Sheep, And for the land his small inheritance, And to that hollow Dell from time to time
Did he repair, to build the fold of which
There, by the Sheep-fold, sometimes was he seen Sitting alone, with that his faithful Dog, Then old, beside him, lying at his feet. The length of full seven years from time to time He at the building of this Sheep-fold wrought, And left the work unfinished when he died. Three years, or little more, did Isabel Survive her husband: at her death the estate Was sold, and went into a Stranger's hand. The Cottage which was named the Evening StAR ls gone—the ploughshare has been through the ground On which it stood; great changes have been wrought In all the neighbourhood:—yet the Oak is left That grew beside their Door; and the remains Of the unfinished Sheep-fold may be seen Beside the boisterous brook of Green-head Ghyll.
TO CHARLES LAMB, Esq.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
when I sent you, a few weeks ago, the Tale of Peter I’ell, you asked to why The WAGGox ER was not added ?” —To say the truth, from the higher tone of imagination, and the deeper touches of passion aimed at in the former, I apprehended, this little Piece could not accompany it without disadvantage. In the year 1806, if I am not mistaken, The WAggoNER was read to you in manuscript; and, as you have remembered it for so long a time, I am the more encouraged to hope, that, since the localities on which it partly depends did not prevent its being interesting to you, it may prove acceptable to others. Being therefore in some measure the cause of its present appearance, you must allow me the gratification of inscribing it to you; in acknowledgment of the pleasure I have derived from your Writings, and of the high esteem with which I am
Very truly yours,
Rydal Mount, May ao, 1819.
CANTO I. t is spent—this burning day of June! Soft darkness o'er its latest gleams is stealing; The dor-hawk, solitary bird, Round the dim crags on heavy pinions wheeling, Buzzes incessantly, a tiresome tune; That constant voice is all that can be heard In silence deeper far than that of deepest noon!
Confiding Glow-worms! "t is a night Propitious to your earth-born light; But, where the scattered stars are seen in hazy straits the clouds between,
Each, in his station twinkling not,
Hush, there is some one on the stir." 'T is Benjamin the Waggoner;Who long hath trod this toilsome way, Companion of the night and day. That far-off tinkling's drowsy cheer, Mixed with a faint yet grating sound In a moment lost and found, The Wain announces—by whose side, Along the banks of Rydal Mere, He paces on, a trusty Guide,Listen! you can scarcely hear! Hither he his course is bending;Now he leaves the lower ground, And up the cratsby hill ascending Many a stop and stay he makes, Many a breathing-fit he takes;– Steep the way and wearisome, Yet all the while his whip is dumb
The Horses have worked with right good-will, And now have gained the top of the hill; He was patient—they were strong— And now they smoothly glide along, Gathering breath, and pleased to win The praises of mild Benjamin. Heaven shield him from mishap and snare : But why so early with this prayer?— Is it for threatenings in the sky? Or for some other danger night No, none is near him yet, though he Be one of much infirmity; For, at the bottom of the Brow, Where once the Dove and Olive-hough Offered a greeting of good ale To all who entered Grasmere Vale; And called on him who must depart To leave it with a jovial heart;— There, where the Dove and Olive-bough Once hung, a Poet harbours now, A simple water-drinking Bard; Why need our Hero then (though frail His best resolves) be on his guard He marches by, secure and bold,— Yet, while he thinks on times of old, It seems that all looks wonderous cold, He shrugs his shoulders—shakes his head– And, for the honest folk within, It is a doubt with Benjamin Whether they be alive or dead!
Here is no danger, none at all ! Beyond his wish is he secure; But pass a mile—and then for trial,— Then for the pride of self-denial;
If he resist that tempting door,
The place to Benjamin full well Is known, and by as strong a spell As used to be that sign of love And hope—the Olive-bough and Dove; He knows it to his cost, good Man' Who does not know the famous Swan Uncouth although the object be, An image of perplexity; Yet not the less it is our boast, For it was painted by the Host; His own conceit the figure planned, 'T was coloured all by his own hand; And that frail Child of thirsty clay, Of whom I sing this rustic lay, Could tell with sclf-dissatisfaction Quaint stories of the Bird's attraction ''
Well! that is past—and in despite Of open door and shining light. And now the Conqueror cssays The long ascent of Dunmail-raise; And with his Team is gentle here As when he clonb from Rydal Mere; His whip they do not dread—his voice They only hear it to rejoice. To stand or go is at their pleasure; Their efforts and their time they measure By generous pride within the breast; And, while they strain, and while they rest, He thus pursues his thoughts at leisure.
Now am I fairly safe to-night— And never was my heart more light. I trespassed lately worse than ever— But Ileaven will bless a good endeavour; And, to my soul's delight, I find The evil One is left behind. Yes, let my master fume and fret, Herc am I–with my Horses yet! My jolly Team, he finds that ye Will work for nobody but me ! Good proof of this the Country gained, One day, when ye were vexed and strained— Entrusted to another's care, And forced unworthy stripes to bear. Here was it—on this rugged spot Which now, contented with our lot, We climb–that, piteously abused, Ye plunged in anger and confused: As chance would have it, passing by I saw you in your jeopardy : A word from mc was like a charm-The ranks were taken with one mind; And your huge burthen, safe from harm, Moved like a vessel in the wind