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Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance
I view the muscular proportioned limb
Transformed to a lean shank. The shapeless pair,
As they designed to mock me, at my side
Take step for step; and, as I near approach
The cottage, walk along the plastered wall,
Prepofterous fight! the legs without the man.
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents,
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad,
And fledged with icy feathers, nod superb.
The cattle mourn in corners where the fence
Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait
Their wonted fodder; not like hungering man,
Fretful if unsupplied ; but filent, meek,
And patient of the Now-paced swain's delay,
He from the stack carves out the accustomed load,
Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft,
His broad keen knife into the folid mass :
Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands,
With such undeviating and even force
He severs it away: no needless care,
Left storms should overset the leaning pile
Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight. Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcerned The cheerful haunts of man, to wield the axe And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear, From morn to eve his folitary task. Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears And tail cropped short, half lurcher and half cur, His dog attends him. Close behind his heel Now creeps he flow; and now, with many a frisk Wide-scampering, snatches up the drifted snow With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout; Then shakes his powdered coat, and barks for joy. Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for aught, But now and then with preffure of his thumb To adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube, That fumes beneath his nose: the trailing cloud Streams far behind him, scenting all the air. Now from the rooft, or from the neighbouring pale, Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam Of smiling day, they gossiped side by side, Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call The feathered tribes domestic. Half on wing, And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood, Conscious and fearful of too deep a plunge. The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltering eaves
To seize the fair occasion. Well they eye
The scattered grain, and thievishly resolved
To escape the impending famine, often scared
As oft return, a pert voracious kind.
Clean riddance quickly made, one only care
Remains to each, the search of sunny nook,
Or shed impervious to the blast. Refigned
To sad neceffity, the cock foregoes
His wonted ftrut; and wading at their head
With well-considered fteps, seems to resent
His altered gait and stateliness retrenched.
How find the myriads, that in summer cheer
"The hills and vallies with their ceaseless songs,
Due sustenance, or where fubfift they now?
Earth yields them nought; the imprisoned worm is fafe
Beneath the frozen clod; all feeds of herbs
Lie covered clofe; and berry-bearing thorns,
That feed the thrush, (whatever some suppose)
Afford the smaller minstrels no fupply.
The long protracted rigour of the year
Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and holes
Ten thousand seek an unmolested end,
As instinct prompts; self-buried ere they die.
The very rooks and daws forsake the fields,
Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth-nut, now
Repays their labour more ; and perched aloft
By the way-side, or stalking in the path,
Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track,
up their nauseous dole, though fweet to thein,
Of voided pulse or half digefted grain.
The streams are loft amid the splendid blank,
O'erwhelming all diftinction. On the flood,
Indurated and fixt, the snowy weight
Lies undiffolved; while filently beneath,
And unperceived, the current steals away.
Not fo where, scornful of a check, it leaps
The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel,
And wantons in the pebbly gulph below :
No froft can bind it there; its utmost force
Can but arreft the light and smoky mist,
That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide.
And fee where it has hung the embroidered banks
With form's so various, that no powers of art,
The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene!
Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high
(Fantastic misarrangement !) on the roof
Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees
And Mrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops,
That trickle down the branches, fast congealed,
Shoot into pillars of pellucid length,
prop the pile they but adorned before. Here grotto within grotto safe defies
The sun-beam; there, embossed and fretted wild,
The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes
Capricious, in which fancy feeks in vain
The likeness of some object seen before.
Thus nature works as if to mock at art,
And in defiance of her rival powers;
By these fortuitous and random strokes
Performing such inimitable feats,
As she with all her rules can never reach.
Less worthy of applause, though more admired,
Because a novelty, the work of man,
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ!
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak,
The wonder of the North. No foreft fell
When thou wouldst build; no quarry sent its ftores
To enrich thy walls: but thou didft hew the floods,
And make thy marble of the glasly wave.
In such a palace Arifæus found
Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale
Of his loft bees to her maternal ear:
In such a palace poetry might place
The armory of winter; where his troops,
The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy fleet,
Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail,
And snow, that often blinds the traveller's course,
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb.