« PreviousContinue »
THE IDLE SHEPHERD-BOYS;.
OR, DUNGEON-GHYLL FORCE1
The valley rings with mirth and joy;
Among the hills the echoes play
A never never ending song,
To welcome in the May.
The magpie chatters with delight;
The mountain raven's youngling brood
Have left the mother and the nest;
And they go rambling east and west
In search of their own food;
Or through the glittering vapours dart
In very wantonness of heart.
Beneath a rock, upon the grass,
Along the river's stony marge
1 Ghyll, in the dialect of Cumberland and Westmoreland, is a short and, for the most part, a steep narrow valley, with a stream running through it. Force is the word universally employed in these dialects for waterfall,
A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
Said Walter, leaping from the ground,
Away the shepherds flew;
They leapt, they ran, and when they came
"Cross, if you dare, where I shall cross;
Come on, and tread where I shall tread."
The other took him at his word,
And followed as he led.
It was a spot which you may see
If ever you to Langdale go;
Into a chasm a mighty block
Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock:
The gulf is deep below;
And, in a basin black and small,
Receives a lofty waterfall.
With staff in hand across the cleft
And, looking down, espies
A lamb, that in the pool is pent
Within that black and frightful rent.
The lamb had slipped into the stream,
And safe without a bruise or wound
The cataract had borne him down
Into the gulf profound.
His dam had seen him when he fell,
She saw him down the torrent borne;
And, while with all a mother's love
She from the lofty rocks above
Sent forth a cry forlorn,
The lamb, still swimming round and round,
Made answer to that plaintive sound.
When he had learnt what thing it was,
That sent this rueful cry, I ween
The boy recovered heart, and told
The sight which he had seen.
Both gladly now deferred their task;
Nor was there wanting other aid.
A poet—one who loves the brooks
Far better than the sages' books—
By chance had thither strayed;
And there the helpless lamb he found
By those huge rocks encompassed round.
He drew it from the troubled pool,
And brought it forth into the light:
The shepherds met him with his charge,
An unexpected sight!
Into their arms the lamb they took,
Whose life and limbs the flood had spared;
Then up the steep ascent they hied,
And placed him at his mother's side;
And gently did the bard
Those idle shepherd-boys upbraid,
And bade them better mind their trade.
TO H. C.
SIX YEARS OLD
O Thou! whose fancies from afar are brought;
Who of thy words dost make a mock apparel,
And fittest to unutterable thought
The breeze-like motion and the self-born carol;
Thou faery voyager! that dost float
In such clear water, that thy boat
May rather seem
To brood on air than on an earthly stream;
Suspended in a stream as clear as sky,
Where earth and heaven do make one imagery;
0 blessed vision! happy child! Thou art so exquisitely wild,
1 think of thee with many fears
For what may be thy lot in future years.
I thought of times when pain might be thy guest, Lord of thy house and hospitality; And grief, uneasy lover! never rest But when she sate within the touch of thee. O too industrious folly! O vain and causeless melancholy! Nature will either end thee quite; Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right, A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks. What hast thou to do with sorrow, Or the injuries of to-morrow? Thou art a dew-drop, which the morn brings forth, 111 fitted to sustain unkindly shocks, Or to be trailed along the soiling earth; A gem that glitters while it lives, And no forewarning gives; But, at the touch of wrong, without a strife Slips in a moment out of life.
THE LONGEST DAY
ADDRESSED TO MY DAUGHTER, DORA
Let Us quit the leafy arbour,
Evening now unbinds the fetters
Yet by some grave thoughts attended
Who would check the happy feeling
Yet, at this impressive season,
And, while shades to shades succeeding