Page images
PDF
EPUB

Grasmere.

ON APPROACHING HOME AFTER A TOUR IN

SCOTLAND, 1803.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

There le

SLY, some kind spirit, Ay to Grasmere Vale !
B Say that we come, and come by this day's light:

Glad tidings !- spread them over field and height;
But chiefly let one cottage hear the tale ;
There let a mystery of joy prevail,
The kitten frolic with unruly might,
And Rover whine, as at a second sight

Of near-approaching good that shall not fail ;-
1 And from that infant's face let joy appear ;
Yea, let our Mary's one companion child,
That hath her six weeks' solitude beguiled
With intimations manifold and dear,
While we have wandered over wood and wild,
Smile on his Mother now with bolder cheer.

A WALK BY THE LAKE.

A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy.
And there, myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.
-- Ill suits the road with one in haste, but we
Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,
It was our occupation to observe
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore,
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,
Each on the other heaped, along the line
Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood,
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,
That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake,
Suddenly halting now—a lifeless stand !
And starting off again with freak as sudden ;
In all its sportive wanderings, all the while,
Making report of an invisible breeze,

That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,
Its very playmate, and its moving soul.
-—And often, trifling with a privilege
Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now,
And now the other, to point out, perchance
To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair
Either to be divided from the place
On which it grew, or to be left alone
To its own beauty. Many such there are,
Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall fern
So stately, of the Queen Osmunda named,
Plant lovelier in iis own retired abode
On Gralmere's beach, than Naiad by the side
Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere,
Sole-sitting by the shores of old Romance.

-So fared we that sweet morning: from the fields
Meanwhile a noise was heard, the busy mirth
Of reapers, men and women, boys and girls.
Delighted much to listen to those sounds,
And, in the fashion which I have described,
Feeding unthinking fancies, we advanced
Along the indented shore; when suddenly,
Through a thin veil of glittering haze, we saw
Before us, on a point of jutting land,
The tall and upright figure of a man
Attired in peasant's garb, who stood alone,
Angling beside the margin of the lake.

That way we turned our steps ; nor was it long Ere, making ready comments on the fight Which then we saw, with one and the same voice Did all cry out, that he must be indeed An idler, he who thus could lose a day Of the mid-harvest, when the labourer's hire Is ample, and some little might be stored Wherewith to cheer him in the winter-time. Thus talking of that peasant, we approached Close to the spot where with his rod and line He stood alone; wherea: he turned his head To greet us—and we saw a man worn down By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean, That for my single self I looked at them, Forgetful of the body they sustained. Too weak to labour in the harvest field, The man was using his best skill to gain A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake That knew not of his wants. I will not say What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how The happy idleness of that sweet morn, With all its lovely images, was changed To serious musing and to self-reproach. Nor did we fail to see within ourselves What need there is to be reserved in speech, And temper all our thoughts with charity.

- Therefore, unwilling to forget that day, My friend, myself, and she who then received The same admonishment, have called the place By a memorial name, uncouth indeed As e'er by mariner was given to bay Or foreland, on a new-discovered coast; And Point Rash Judgment is the name it bears.

HELM CRAG.
The road is black before his eyes,
Glimmering faintly where it lies;
Black is the sky—and every hill,
Up to the sky, is blacker still —
Sky, hill, and dale, one dismal room,
Hung round and overhung with gloom ;
Save that above a single height
Is to be seen a lurid light,
Above Helm Crag—a streak half dead,
A burning of portentous red;
And near that lurid light, full well
The Astrologer, sage Sidrophel,
Where at his desk and book he sits,
Puzzling aloft his curious wits ;
He whose domain is held in common
With no one but the Ancient Woman,

« PreviousContinue »