« PreviousContinue »
There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye Cliffs
And islands of Winander !- many a time,
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake ;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him. — And they would
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call, — with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of mirth and jocund din! And, when it chanced
That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill,
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.
This Boy was taken from his Mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair are the woods, and beauteous is the spot,
The Vale where he was born : the Church-yard
Upon a slope above the village-school ;
And there, along that bank, when I have passed
At evening, I believe, that oftentimes
A long half-hour together I have stood
Mute – looking at the grave in which he lies !
On her First Ascent to the Summit of Helvellyn.
INMATE of a mountain Dwelling,
Thou hast clomb aloft, and gazed,
From the watch-towers of Helvellyn;
Awed, delighted, and amazed !
Potent was the spell that bound thee
In the moment of dismay,
While blue Ether's arms, flung round thee,
Stilled the pantings of dismay..
Lo! the dwindled woods and meadows !
What a vast abyss is there !
Lo! the clouds, the solemn shadows,
And the glistenings — heavenly fair!
And a record of commotion
Which a thousand ridges yield ;
Ridge, and gulph, and distant ocean
Gleaming like a silver shield !
– Take thy flight ;- possess, inherit Alps or Andes — they are thine ! With the morning's roseate spirit, Sweep their length of snowy line ;
Or survey the bright dominions
In the gorgeous colours drest,
Flung from off the purple pinions,
Evening spreads throughout the west !
Thine are all the choral fountains
Warbling in each sparry vault
Of the untrodden lunar mountains ;
Listen to their songs ! - or halt,
To Niphate's top invited,
Whither spiteful Satan steered ;
Or descend where the ark alighted,
When the green earth re-appeared ;
For the power of hills is on thee,
As was witnessed through thine eye
Then, when old Helvellyn won thee,
To confess their majesty!
O BLITHE New-comer ! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice :
O Cuckoo ! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice ?
While I am lying on the grass,
Thy loud note smites my ear!
It seems to fill the whole air's space,
At once far off and near!
I hear thee babbling to the Vale
Of sunshine and of flowers ;
But unto me thou bring’st a tale
Of visionary hours.
Thrice welcome, Darling of the Spring !
Even yet thou art to me
No Bird; but an invisible Thing,
A voice, a mystery.