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(At random and imperfectly indeed)
On man, the heart of man, and human life.
Therefore, although it be a history
Homely and rude, I will relate the same
For the delight of a few natural hearts;
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake
Of youthful poets, who among these hills
Will be my second self when I am gone.

Upon the forest-side in Grasmere Vale 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 breathe

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, oldThough 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 fireside ; 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
This son of his old age was yet more dear-
Less from instinctive tenderness, the same
Blind spirit, which is in the blood of all-
Than that a child, more than all other gifts,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
Exceeding was the love he bare to him,
His heart and his heart's joy! For oftentimes
Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female service, not alone
For pastime and delight, as is the use
Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced
To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
His cradle with a woman's gentle hand.

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
Had 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; wherewith equipped He as a watchman oftentimes was placed , At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock; And, to his office prematurely called, There stood the urchin, as you will divine, Something between a hindrance and a help; And for this course, not always, I believe, Receiving from his father hire of praise; Though nought 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

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