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THE WAGGONER.

CANTO FIRST.

'Tis spent — this burning day of June!

Soft darkness o'er its latest gleams is stealing;

The dor-hawk, solitary bird,

Round the dim crags on heavy pinions wheeling,

Buzzes incessantly, a tiresome tune;

That constant voice is all that can be heard

In silence deeper far than that of deepest noon!

Confiding Glow-worms, 'tis a night Propitious to your earth-born light! But, where the scattered stars are seen In hazy straits the clouds between, Each, in his station twinkling not, Seems changed into a pallid spot.'

The air, as in a lion's den,

Is close and hot; — and now and then

Comes a tired and sultry breeze

With a haunting and a panting,

Like the stifling of disease;

The mountains rise to wonderous height,

And in the heavens there is a weight;

But the dews allay the heat,

And the silence makes it sweet.

Hush, there is some one on the stir f 'Tis Benjamin the Waggoner;Who long hath trod this toilsome way, Companion of the night and day. That far-off tinkling's drowsy cheer, Mixed with a faint yet grating sound In a moment lost and found, The Wain announces — by whose side, Along the banks of Rydal Mere, He paces on, a trusty Guide, — Listen! you can scarcely hear! Hither he his course is bending; — Now he leaves the lower ground, And up the craggy hill ascending

Many a stop and stay he makes,
Many a breathing-fit he takes ;—
Steep the way and wearisome,
Yet all the while his whip is dumb!

The Horses have worked with right good-will,
And now have gained the top of the hill;
He was patient — they were strong —
And now they smoothly glide along,
Gathering breath, and pleased to win
The praises of mild Benjamin.
Heaven shield him from mishap and snare!
But why so early with this prayer ? —
Is it for threatenings in the sky?
Or for some other danger nigh?
No, none is near him yet, though he
Be one of much infirmity;
For, at the bottom of the Brow,
Where once the Dove and Olive-bough
Offered a greeting of good ale
To all who entered Grasmere Vale;
And called on him who must depart
To leave it with a jovial heart; —

There, where the Dove and Olive-bough

Once hung, a Poet harbours now, —

A simple water-drinking Bard;

Why need our Hero then (though frail

His best resolves) be on his guard ? —

He marches by, secure and bold, —

Yet, while he thinks on times of old,

It seems that all looks wonderous cold;

He shrugs his shoulders — shakes his head —

And, for the honest folk within,

It is a doubt with Benjamin

Whether they be alive or dead!

Here is no danger, — none at all! Beyond his wish is he secure; But pass a mile — and then for trial, — Then for the pride of self-denial; If he resist that tempting door, Which with such friendly voice will call, If he resist those casement panes, And that bright gleam which thence will fall Upon his Leaders' bells and manes, Inviting him with cheerful lure; For still, though all be dark elsewhere,

Some shining notice will be there,
Of open house and ready fare.

The place to Benjamin full well
Is known, and by as strong a spell
As used to be that sign of love
And hope — the Olive-bough and Dove;
He knows it to his cost, good Man!
Who does not know the famous Swan?
Uncouth although the object be,
An image of perplexity;
Yet not the less it is our boast,
For it was painted by the Host;
His own conceit the figure planned,
'Twas coloured all by his own hand;
And that frail Child of thirsty clay,
Of whom I frame this rustic lay,
Could tell with self-dissatisfaction
Quaint stories of the Bird's attraction ! *

Well! that is past — and in despite Of open door and shining light. * This rude piece of self-taught art (such is the progress of refinement) has been supplanted by a professional production.

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