Page images

O Brother! I revere the choice

That took thee from thy native hills; 20

And it is given thee to rejoice:

Though public care full often tills

(Heaven only witness of the toil)

A barren and ungrateful soiI.

Yet, would that Thou, with me and mine, 25

Hadst heard this never-failing rite;

And seen on other faces shine

A true revival of the light

Which Nature and these rustic Powers,

In simple childhood, spread through ours! 30

For pleasure hath not ceased to wait

On these expected annual rounds;

Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate

Call forth the unelaborate sounds,

Or they are offered at the door 35

That guards the lowliest of the poor.

How touching, when, at midnight, sweep

Snow-mufflea winds, and all is dark,

To hear—and sink again to sleep!

Or, at an earlier call, to mark, 40

By blazing fire, the still suspense

Oi self-complacent innocence;

The mutual nod,—the grave disguise

Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;

And some unbidden tears that rise 45

For names once heard, and heard no more;

Tears brightened by the serenade

For infant in the cradle laid.

Ah ! not for emerald fields alone,

With ambient streams more pure and bright 50

Than fabled Cytherea's zone

Glittering before the Thunderer's sight,

Is to my neart of hearts endeared

The ground where we were born and reared!

Hail, ancient Manners ! sure defence, 55

Where they survive, of wholesome laws;

Remnants of love whose modest sense

Thus into narrow room withdraws;

Hail, Usages of pristine mould,

And ye that guard them, Mountains old! 60 Bear with me, Brother! quench the thought

That slights this passion, or condemns;

If thee fond Fancy ever brought

From the proud margin of the Thames,

And Lambeth's venerable towers, 65

To humbler streams, and greener bowers.

Yes, they can make, who fail to find,

Short leisure even in busiest days;

Moments, to cast a look behind,

And profit by those kindly rays 70

That through the clouds do sometimes steal,

And all the far-off past revea1.

Hence, while the imperial City's din

Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,

A pleased attention I may win 75

To agitations less severe,

That neither overwhelm nor cloy,

But fill the hollow vale with joy!

Not envying Latian shades—if yet they throw
A grateful coolness round that crystal Spring,
Bandusia, prattling as when long ago
The Sabine Bard was moved her praise to sing;
Careless of flowers that in perennial blow 5
Bound the moist marge of Persian fountains

cling; Heedless of Alpine torrents thundering Through ice-built arches radiant as heaven's

bow; I seek the birth-place of a native Stream.— All hail, ye mountains! hail, thou morning

light! 10

Better to breathe at large on this clear height Than toil in needless sleep from dream to

dream: Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and

bright, For Duddon, long-loved Duddon, is my theme! II.

Child of the clouds! remote from every taint
Of sordid industry thy lot is cast;
Thine are the honours of the lofty waste;
Not seldom, when with heat the valleys faint,
Thy handmaid Frost with spangled tissue

quaint 5

Thy cradle decks;—to chant thy birth, thou

hast No meaner Poet than the whistling Blast, And Desolation is thy Patron-saint! She guards thee, ruthless Power! who would

not spare Those mighty forests, once the bison's screen, 10 Where stalked the huge deer to his shaggy lair' Through paths and alleys roofed with darkest

green; Thousands of years before the silent air Was pierced by whizzing shaft of hunter keen!


How shall I paint thee ?—Be this naked stone
My seat, while I give way to such intent;
Pleased could my verse, a speaking monument,
Make to the eyes of men thy features known.
But as of all those tripping lambs not one 5
Outruns his fellows, so hath Nature lent
To thy beginning nought that doth present
Peculiar ground for hope to build upon.
To dignify the spot that gives thee birth
No sign of hoar Antiquity's esteem 10

1 The deer alluded to is the Leigh, a gigantic species long since extinct.

Appears, and none of modern Fortune's care; Yet thou thyself hast round thee shed a gleam Of brilliant moss, instinct with freshness rare; Prompt offering to thy Foster-mother, Earth!


Take, cradled Nursling of the mountain, take

This parting glance, no negligent adieu!

A Protean change seems wrought while I

pursue The curves, a loosely-scattered chain doth make; Or rather thou appear'st a glittering snake, 5 Silent, and to the gazer's eye untrue, Thridding with sinuous lapse the rushes,

through Dwarf willows gliding, and by ferny brake. Starts from a dizzy steep the undaunted Rill Robed instantly in garb of snow-white foam; 10 And laughing dares the Adventurer, who hath

clomb So high, a rival purpose to fulfil; Else let the dastard backward wend, and roam, Seeking less bold achievement, where he will!


Sole listener, Duddon! to the breeze that

played With thy clear voice, I caught the fitful sound Wafted o'er sullen moss and craggy mound— Unfruitful solitudes, that seemed to upbraid The sun in heaven!— but now, to form a shade 5 For Thee, green alders have together wound Their foliage; ashes flung their arms around; And birch-trees risen in silver colonnade.

And thou hast also tempted here to rise,
'Mid sheltering pines, this Cottage rude and

grey; 10

Whose ruddy children, by the mother's eyes Carelessly watched, sport through the summer

day, Thy pleased associates :—light as endless May On infant bosoms lonely Nature lies.



Ere yet our course was graced with social trees
It lacked not old remains of hawthorn bowers,
Where small birds warbled to their paramours;
And, earlier still, was heard the hum of bees;
I saw them ply their harmless robberies, 5

And caught the fragrance which the sundry

flowers, Fed by the stream with soft perpetual showers, Plenteously yielded to the vagrant breeze. There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness; The trembling eyebright showed her sapphire

blue, 10

The thyme her purple, like the blush of Even;
And if the breath of some to no caress
Invited, forth they peeped so fair to view,
All kinds alike seemed favourites of Heaven.


"Change me, some G-od, into that breathing

rose!" The love-sick Stripling fancifully sighs, The envied flower beholding, as it lies On Laura's breast, in exquisite repose; Or he would pass into her bird, that throws s

« PreviousContinue »