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Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
With which the fieldfare, wintry guest, is fed :
Nor autumn yet had brushed from every spray,
With her chill hand, the mellow leaves away;
But corn was housed, and beans were in the stack,
Now therefore issued forth the spotted pack,
With tails high-mounted, ears hung low, and throats
With a whole gamut fill'd of heavenly notes,
For which, alas ! my destiny severe,
Though ears she gave me two, gave me no ear.
The sun accomplishing his early march,
His lamp now planted on heaven's topmost arch,
When, exercise and air my only aim,
And heedless whither, to that field I came,
Ere yet with ruthless joy the happy hound
Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found,
Or with the high-raised horn's melodious clang
All Kilwick and all Dinglederry rang.
Sheep grazed the field; some with soft bosom pressed
The herb as soft, while nibbling stray'd the rest;
Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook,
Struggling, detained in many a petty nook.
All seemed so peaceful, that, from them conveyed,
To me their peace by kind contagion spread.
But when the huntsman, with distended cheek,
'Gan make his instrument of music speak,
And from within the wood that crash was heard,
Though not a hound from whom it burst appear'd,
The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that grazed,
All huddling intoo stood and gazed,
Admiring, terrified, the novel strain,
Then coursed the field around, and coursed it round
Boileting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urged advanced them nought,
They gathered close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again—but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustomed long,
Perceives in everything that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees
Have speech for him, and understood with ease;
After long drought, when rains abundant fall,
He hears the herbs and flowers rejoicing all;
Knows what the freshness of their hue implies,
How glad they catch the largess of the skies;
But, with precision nicer still, the mind
He scans of every locomotive kind;
Birds of all feather, beasts of every name,
That serve mankind, or shun them, wild or tame;
The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears
Have all articulation in his ears;
He spells them true by intuition's light,
And needs no glossary to set him right.
This truth premised was needful as a text,
To win due credence to what follows next.
Awhile they mused ; surveying every face,
Thou hadst supposed them of superior race;
Their periwigs of wool and fears combined,
Stamped on each countenance such marks of mind,
That sage they seemed, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,
Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths;
When thus a mutton statelier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers sad addressed :
“Friends ! we have lived too long. I never heard
Sounds such as these, so worthy to be feared.
Could I believe, that winds for ages pent
In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent,
And from their prison-house below arise,
With all these hideous howlings to the skies,
I could be much composed, nor should appear,
For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear.
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders rolled
All night, me resting quiet in the fold.
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone,
I could expound the melancholy tone;
Should deem it by our old companion made,
The ass; for he, we know, has lately strayed,
And, being lost, perhaps, and wandering wide,
Might be supposed to clamour for a guide.
But ah I those dreadful yells what soul can hear,
That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear?
Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-clawed,
And fanged with brass the demons are abroad;
I hold it therefore wisest and most fit
That, life to save, we leap into the pit.”
Him answered then his loving mate and true,
But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe,
“How leap into the pit our life to save
To save our life leap all into the grave
For can we find it less : . Contemplate first
The depth how awful falling there, we burst:
Or should the brambles interposed our fall
In part abate, that happiness were small;
For with a race like theirs no chance I see *
Of peace or ease to creatures clad as we.
Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray,
Or be it not, or be it whose it may,
And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues
Of demons uttered, from whatever lun
Sounds are but sounds, and, till the cause appear,
We have at least commodious standing here.
Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast
From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last."
While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals, For Reynard, close attended at his heels By panting dog, tired man, and spattered horse, Through mere good fortune, took a different course. The flock grew calm again, and I, the road Following that led me to my own abode, Much wonder'd that the silly sheep had found Such cause of terror in an empty sound, So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Seware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
Tive till to-morrow, will have passed away.
ON THE RECEIPT OF MY MOTHER's PICTURE, OUT OF NORFOLK,
THE GIFT OF MY COUSIN, ANNE BoDHAM.
O THAT those lips had language 1 Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
“Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away ! '
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalise,
The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
To quench it !) here shines on me still the same.
Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,
O welcome guest, though unexpected here I
Who bids me honour with an artless song,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long,
I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own ;
And, while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief,
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream, that thou art she.
My mother when I learnt that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun ?
Perhaps thou gav'st me, though unfelt, a kiss;
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss—
Ah, that maternal smile !—it answers—Yes.
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nursery window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu !
But was it such —It was.--Where thou art gone,
Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown.
May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore,
The parting word shall pass my lips no more I
Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of thy quick return;
What ardently I wished, I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived;
By expectation every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrows spent,
I learnt at last submission to my lot,
But though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.
Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more,”
Children not thine have trod my nursery floor;
* The rectory at Great Berkhampstead, where he was born.