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He told me that he to this pond had come
To gather Leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance:And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.

The Old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole Body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by strong admo-
nishment.

My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;

And hope that is unwilling to be fed;

Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;

And mighty Poets in their misery dead.

—Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,

My question eagerly did I renew,

"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"

He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering Leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the Ponds where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."

While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The Old Man's shape, and speech, all troubled me:
In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse
renewed.

And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn, to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely
moor!"

S

XXXI.

THE THORN.

"There is a Thorn — it looks so old,

In truth, you'd find it hard to say

How it could ever have been young,

It looks so old and gray.

Not higher than a two years' child

It stands erect, this aged Thorn;

No leaves it has, no thorny points;

It is a mass of knotted joints,

A wretched thing forlorn.

It stands erect, and like a stone

With lichens it is overgrown.

Like rock or stone, it is o'ergrown

With lichens to the very top,

And hung with heavy tufts of moss,

A melancholy crop:

Up from the earth these mosses creep,

And this poor Thorn they clasp it round

So close, you'd say that they were bent

With plain and manifest intent

To drag it to the ground;

And all had joined in one endeavour

To bury this poor Thorn for ever.

High on a mountain's highest ridge,

Where oft the stormy winter gale

Cuts like a scythe, while through the clouds

It sweeps from vale to vale;

Not five yards from the mountain path,

This Thorn you on your left espy;

And to the left, three yards beyond,

You see a little muddy Pond

Of water, never dry;

Though but of compass small, and bare

To thirsty suns, and parching air.

And, close beside this aged Thorn,

There is a fresh and lovely sight,

A beauteous heap, a Hill of moss,

Just half a foot in height.

All lovely colours there you see,

All colours that were ever seen;

And mossy net-work too is there,

As if by hand of lady fair

The work had woven been;

And cups, the darlings of the eye,

So deep is their vermilion dye.

Ah me! what lovely tints are there!

Of olive green and scarlet bright,

In spikes, in branches, and in stars,

Green, red, and pearly white.

This heap of earth o'ergrown with moss,

Which close beside the Thorn you see,

So fresh in all its beauteous dyes,

Is like an infant's grave in size,

As like as like can be:

But never, never any where,

An infant's grave was half so fair.

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