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Again! his heart within him dies-
His pulse is stopped, his breath is lost,
He totters, pallid as a ghost,
And, looking down, espies
A lamb, that in the pool is pent
Within that black and frightful rent.
The lamb had slipped into the stream,
And safe without a bruise or wound
The cataract had borne him down
Into the gulf profound.
His dam had seen him when he fell,
She saw him down the torrent borne:
And, while with all a mother's love
She from the lofty rocks above
Sent forth a cry forlorn,
The lamb, still swimming round and round,
Made answer to that plaintive sound.
When he had learnt what thing it was
That sent this rueful cry; I ween
The boy recovered heart, and told
The sight which he had seen.
Both gladly now deferred their task ;
Nor was there wanting other aid-
A poet, one who loves the brooks
Far better than the sages' books,
By chance had hither strayed;
And there the helpless lamb he found
By those huge rocks encompassed round.
He drew it gently from the pool,
And brought it forth into the light:
The shepherds met him with his charge,
An unexpected sight!
Into their arms the lamb they took,
Said they, “He's neither maimed nor scarred."
Then up the steep ascent they hied,
And placed him at his mother's side;
And gently did the bard
Those idle shepherd-boys upbraid,
And bade them better mind their trade.
TO H. C. SIX YEARS OLD.
O THOU whose fancies from afar are brought !
Who of thy words dost make a mock apparel,
And fittest to unutterable thought
The breeze-like motion and the self-born carol;
Thou fairy voyager that dost float
In such clear water that thy boat
May rather seem
To brood on air than on an earthly stream;
Suspended in a stream as clear as sky,
Where earth and heaven do make one imagery!
O blessed vision! happy child !
That art so exquisitely wild,
I think of thee with many fears
For what may be thy lot in future years.
I thought of times when pain might be thy guest, Lord of thy house and hospitality! And grief, uneasy lover! never rest But when she sate within the touch of thee. Oh, too industrious folly! Oh, vain and causeless melancholy ! Nature will either end thee quite, Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right,
A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks.
What hast thou to do with sorrow,
Or the injuries of to-morrow?
Thou art a dewdrop which the morn brings forth,
Ill fitted to sustain unkindly shocks,
Or to be trailed along the soiling earth;
A gem that glitters while it lives,
And no forewarning gives;
But, at the touch of wrong, without a strife
Slips in a moment out of life.
INFLUENCE OF NATURAL OBJECTS
IN CALLING FORTH AND STRENGTHENING THE IMA-
GINATION IN BOYHOOD AND EARLY YOUTH.
Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought,
And giv'st to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion! not in vain,
By day or star light, thus from my first dawn
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things,
With life and nature ; purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying by such discipline
Both pain and fear, until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me With stinted kindness. In November days, When vapours rolling down the valleys made A lonely scene more lonesome, among woods
At noon, and mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills, I homeward went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine:
'Twas mine among the fields both day and night,
And by the waters, all the summer long;
And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile,
The cottage windows through the twilight blazed,
I heeded not the summons : happy time
It was indeed for all of us; for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six-I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse
That cares not for his home. All shod with steel
We hissed along the polished ice, in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase
And woodland pleasures, the resounding horn,
The pack loud bellowing, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle: with the din
Meanwhile the precipices rang aloud;
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while the distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy, not unnoticed, while the stars,
Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.
Not seldom from the uproar I retired Into a silent bay, or sportively Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, To cut across the reflex of a star, Image that, flying still before me, gleamed Upon the glassy plain: and oftentimes,
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me-even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round !
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a summer sea.
THE OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR. I saw an aged beggar in my walk; And he was seated, by the highway side, On a low structure of rude masonry Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they Who lead their horses down the steep rough road May thence remount at ease. The aged man Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone That overlays the pile ; and, from a bag All white with flour, the dole of village dames, He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one ; And scanned them with a fixed and serious look Of idle computation. In the sun, Upon the second step of that small pile, Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills, He sat, and ate his food in solitude: And ever, scattered from his palsied hand, That, still attempting to prevent the waste, Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds, Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal, Approached within the length of half his staff,