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THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

THERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds; And, as the mind is pitch’d, the ear is pleas'd With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave: Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies. ' How soft the music of those village bells, Falling at intervals upon the ear In cadence sweet, now dying all away, Now pealing loud again, and louder still, Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on! With easy force it opens all the cells Where mem'ry slept. Wherever I have heard A kindred melody, the scene recurs, And with it all its pleasures and its pains. Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, That in a few short moments I retrace (As in a map the voyager his course) The windings of my way through many years. Short as in retrospect the journey seems, It seem'd not always short; the rugged path, And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn,

Mov'd many a sigh at its disheart'ning length.
Yet, feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revok’d,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience, as we now perceive)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found !
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend!
A father, whose authority, in show
When most severe, and must'ring all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love ;
Whose favor, like the clouds of spring, might low,
And utter now and then an awful voice,
But Irad a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threat'ning at once, and nourishing the plant.
We lov’d, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allur'd
By ev'ry gilded folly, we renounc'd
His shelt'ring side, and wilfully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrot has, since they went, subdu'd and tam'd
The playful humor: he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth
Till time has stol'n away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is,

The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And, seeking grace & improve the prize they hold,
Would arge a wiser suit than asking more.

The night was winter in his roughest mood; The morning sharp and clear.. But now at noon , Upon the southern side of the slant hills, And where the woods fence off the northern blaster The season smiles, resigning all its rage, And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendor of the scene below. Again the harmony comes o’er the vale ; And through the trees I view th' embattled tower Whence all the music. I again perceive The soothing influence of the wafted strains, And settle in soft musings as I tread The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, Whose outspread branches overarch the glade. The roof, though moveable through all its length As the wind sways it, has yet well suffic'd, And, intercepting in their silent fall The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me. No noise is here, or none that hinders thought. A The red-breast warbles still, but is content With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd: Pleas’d with his solitude, and fitting light From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below. Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft, Charms more than silence. Meditation here

May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give an useful lesson to the head, "
And learning wiser grow.without his books. .
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft times no connexion. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till smooth'd and squar'd and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems t'enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells;
By which the magic arts of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall’d.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment, hoodwink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error, leads them by a tune entranc'd...
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing, therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees, and rivulets, whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn

root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won

By slow solicitation, seize at once .
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.

What prodigies can pow'r divine perform More grand than it produces year by year, And all in sight of inattentive man? Familiar with th' effect we slight the cause, And, in the constancy of nature's course, The regular return of genial months, And renovation of a faded world, See nought to wonder at. Should God again, As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race Of the undeviating and punctual sun, How would the world admire ! but speaks it less An agency divine, to make him know His moment when to sink and when to rise, Age after age, than to arrest his course? All we behold is miracle; but, seen So duly, all is miracle in vain. Where now the vital energy that mor'd While summer was, the pure and subtile lymph Through th' imperceptible meand'ring veins Of leaf and flow'r? It sleeps; and th' icy touch Of unprolific winter has impress'd A cold stagnation on th' intestine tide. But let the months go round, a few short months, And all shall be restor'd. These naked shoots, Barren as lances, among which the wind Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes, Shall put their graceful foliage on again, And, more aspiring, and with ample spread, Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost,

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